Philip O'Meara's senior football season at Linfield, in 1941, is the stuff of legends.
The school paper that year said as much, recounting how Phil’s arm was broken in the first game of the season, but he played on until the final minute. Not only that game, but all the games. His arm was placed in a cast before the second game and he played. The plaster casts kept getting beat up during games and he had to replace them six times, but he played.
Actually, the O’Meara legend began two years earlier, when he played every minute of every game, never coming off the field — an unusual achievement even in those days of one-platoon football. In four years, he played in every game but the first one of his freshman season. His brother Jim was his teammate and offensive line-mate for three years.
At the end of his senior season, Philip O’Meara was honored as a tackle on the All-Northwest Conference and Little All-Coast teams and received honorable mention Little All-America from the Associated Press.
He received inquiries from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. But two days after the Eagles mailed their letter, Pearl Harbor was attacked and a month after that, Philip O’Meara was drafted into the Army.
As ferocious in battle as he was on the football field, Staff Sgt. O’Meara fought with the 39th field artillery battalion of the Third Infantry Division. He fought in 10 battles in North Africa and Europe — from Italy to France to Germany -- and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Upon his discharge in 1945, he returned to Linfield to finish his final semester and graduated in the spring of 1946.
Much of his postwar, post-college life was spent raising beef cattle around Wasco, Ore., where Philip grew up and graduated from Wasco High School in 1937. Mr. O’Meara, a widower, was married for 46 years. He passed away Sept. 6, 2004, leaving behind four children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.