Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

Ray Ellinwood graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton in 1933 and soared into the annals of sports history when he broke the world record in the 440-yard dash.
Lawrence Dupont was a member of Western's 1909 graduating class and made national sports headlines as a star quarterback at Louisiana State University.

Ellinwood and Dupont are among dozens of athletes who learned their skills at Western Military Academy and became some of the greatest sports stars in the United States, said C.B. Jackson, a Western Military Academy historian.
"Western Military Academy in Alton was a training ground for some of America's top athletes," said Jackson, a 1968 Western graduate.
Ellinwood, a world record holder in track, and Dupont, a football star, are pictured in two books written by Jackson on the history of athletics at Western.
Jackson wrote "Western Military Academy Athletics" and "Alton's Thanksgiving Day Classic," a history of the popular rivalry of the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between Western Military and Alton High School.
Jackson's book features dozens of photographs showing the history of athletics at Western Military from the time the academy was founded by Albert M. Jackson in Alton in 1879 until it closed in 1971.
At Western, 16-year-old Ray Ellinwood learned character-building traits and military tactics to prepare cadets for combat duty on the front lines of World War II.
Spectators sat on the hillside of the sports arena at Western in 1932 to watch Ellinwood stretch his long legs and speed around the track ahead of top runners from Illinois and Missouri high schools.
The crowd cheered as the tall athlete's spiked shoes churned up the cinders on the track, breaking dozens of records in the 440-yard dash and relay team.
People who gathered for track meets at the historic Western Military Academy in Upper Alton were unaware that in years ahead Ellinwood would burst into athletic history as one of the world's greatest runners.
He was a gifted student and scored an outstanding record in classes in military tactics when he graduated from Western in 1933.
He enrolled at the University of Chicago and was suddenly thrust into the national scene as a track star.
Photographers from newspapers across the country aimed their cameras on the track in 1935 to watch Ellinwood compete in the 440-yard dash against top runners in the Big Ten Conference.
Gliding down the back stretch of the track, Ellinwood pulled away from the other runners and stretched his legs to cross the finish line in a world-record time of 48.9 seconds.
People stood and cheered and cameras caught the world record history-making event of the young man who started his running career at Western Military Academy in Alton.
During one remarkable stretch, Ellinwood broke the world record three times in three weeks in the 440-yard dash.
Cadet Lawrence Dupont was a great football quarterback who led Western Military to scoring records against top teams, said Jackson, the Western historian.
Thousands of fans crowded the stands and stood along the sidelines to watch Dupont and his Western team play their rival Alton High School in the annual Thanksgiving Day football classic in 1908.
Dupont called the signals as quarterback, leading his Western team to a 17-0 shutout of Alton High.
He graduated from Western in 1909 and enrolled at Louisiana University, where his name went into the record books as a star football quarterback. In 1937, LSU created its athletic hall of fame and named Dupont as the "best quarterback in LSU history."
Many star athletes at Western Military Academy were heroes in World War II, and some died on the battlefields of Europe and South Pacific islands.
All-American swimmer Howard Humphreys graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton in 1936, Jackson said.
Humphreys was a courageous Army officer of a company of soldiers who defended the Philippines from Japanese armies in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star for bravery in saving the lives of his soldiers. He died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1945.
Ellinwood, Dupont and Humphreys are among dozens of sports stars displayed in Jackson's two books on the history of athletics at Western Military Academy.

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