Mr. Trojan

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At 95, Nick Pappas is a living history of Troy.  During his 59 years of service to USC, Pappas played the role of student-athlete, coach and administrator.

Thumbnail image for Hill-signs-Pappas.jpgFrom 1935-37, he filled the tailback position for Howard Jones and led the team in rushing in his first season.  After a brief professional career with the Hollywood Bears, he returned to his alma mater as a coach.

He guided the freshman teams in 1939 and 1940 and then worked under Jess Hill as an assistant from 1953 to 1956.  In the photo to the right from 1951, Pappas, the football alumni president at the time, is the second man in from the left peering over Hill's shoulder as he signs his new contract alongside then university president Fred Fagg.  

Pappas transitioned into a pioneering administrative role as the creator of athletic support groups for the department and much of the scholarship fundraising system that is still in place today.  For all his work, he was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 1997.

Nick Pappas Coach McKay and Craig Fertig.jpgHe remained an active member of the department until 2004.  When he retired, he was the longest tenured employee at USC. 

While he dedicated his life to his university, he risked it for his country in World War II.  Pappas earned the Navy's Silver Star for his heroism at the "Battle of Okinawa."

After his destroyer, the USS Drexler, was hit by a Japanese kamikaze attack, he was blown into the sea as the ship took only a minute to sink into the Pacific.  Despite injuries of his own for which he received a Purple Heart, he swam through burning oil to rescue two sailors by carrying them to rafts.

His grandson Geoffrey Arrobio emailed us two photos from his grandfather's archives.

The top picture is from the Doheny Library.  The second photo features Pappas, John McKay and former USC QB Craig Fertig from 1988.  Below from left to right, Harold Drury, "Bear" Bryant, McKay, John Hubbard and Pappas embrace at the John McKay Golf Invitational in 1972.  (Click to enlarge all three photos.)

John McKay Invitational - 1972.jpg

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Please correct my grandfather's age when he passed. He was 99 last Friday.

Thank you.

CDR Pete Arrobio, US Navy

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