Former Marine, 91, joins Ohio State ROTC to celebrate Buckeye scores

Harry McKnight, an Ohio State alum, performs push-ups after every point

By: Chris Booker

Published on September 18, 2017

If you looked closely at the north end zone of Ohio Stadium Saturday, you might have noticed something a little different when the members of The Ohio State University ROTC program were celebrating another Buckeye score.

Joining the youthful cadets and midshipmen as they did push-ups for every point was nonagenarian Harry McKnight. The Buckeyes scored 38 points against Army this weekend and after every touchdown, field goal and extra point, the 91-year-old McKnight joined the ROTC members as they did their calisthenics.

McKnight, a 1951 graduate of Ohio State, has been working toward this goal since last year. He’s been practicing at home during games last season – including wins over Nebraska and Maryland where the Buckeyes scored 62 points back to back.

“The last three games have been pretty easy,“ he said, referring to the games against Clemson, Indiana and Oklahoma.

McKnight’s wife, Barbara, is also an Ohio State graduate. She encouraged him to do push-ups after each score.

“I figured he could do it again this year. You’ve got to nag him to keep him in shape,” Barbara laughed.

McKnight as pole vaulter at Ohio State. Source: Tim McKnight

McKnight is familiar with Ohio State athletics. He was a pole vaulter on the varsity track team after returning home from World War II.

Before he enrolled at Ohio State, McKnight was a Marine. He fought in the Battle of Okinawa, one of the deadliest campaigns in World War II and one of the last stages of the war. As his service was winding down his thoughts turned to life after the Marines.

“What am I going to do when I get back home if I make it through this war? I thought about my high school teachers. They made it fun,” McKnight said. “I thought, ‘that’s what I’m going to do.’”

He was a teacher and track coach for East High School and Walnut Ridge High School, working in the Columbus City Schools for 36 years.

McKnight’s military career did not end with the Marines on Okinawa. He joined the Air National Guard as an aerial photographer and served for another 23 years.

McKnight said his time in the Marines prepared him for challenges he would face in life. One lesson he wanted to impart to the ROTC members he joined this weekend was the importance of doing your job right away.

“The drill instructor gives you something to do, you do it immediately,” he said. “Doing immediately what a superior says will keep you out of trouble.”

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