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A Look at the Military Service of Four Former Oklahoma State Wrestlers

In honor of Veterans Day a look at the wrestling and military careers of four Cowboys



With Veterans Day today I thought I’d take a look at the service of a few Cowboy wrestlers. Vernon Logan, Buddy Arndt, J. Robinson, and Randy Couture served in WW2, Vietnam and during the Cold War. All four have unique stories of their service that came before, after and even in between their time at Oklahoma State.

Vernon Logan: Logan won individual NCAA titles for Oklahoma State in 1940 and 1942 at 155 pounds. He helped Oklahoma State win team titles in each of those seasons as well and likely would’ve won another in 1941, but was forced to miss the season and NCAA tournament with a broken nose. His replacement Earl Vanbebber went on to win the tournament.

Logan was awarded a Purple Heart for an injury he received in North Africa. This archived O’Colly article has the story of Logan’s service during World War 2.

Receiving the Order of the Purple Heart recently was Lieutenant Vernon Logan, former Oklahoma A and M. wrestler, who was wounded in the North African Campaign. He only recently returned to action, according to information received here.

He was decorated for extraordinary bravery following the capture of Bizerte after having been in North Africa for nearly a year. He enlisted in the Army following graduation from A. and M. He is the son of L.D. Logan, of Tulsa. The elder Logan is a retired policeman having been injured in the line of duty.

He carried the Orange and Black of A. and M. to the national mat championship in 1940 and then laid out during the season of 1941 when he suffered a broken nose. He returned to the mat once more in 1942 to again win the national title.

During his high school days he was captain of the Tulsa Central mat team with won the state championship.

Logan’s regiment were the only AEF group chosen to serve as guard of honor for Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden during their recent visit to the North African front. The group was selected from soldiers who had seen the most action during the African campaign.


Vernon Logan Purple Heart Story O'Colly

David “Buddy” Arndt: Arndt’s wrestling career was unique. He was a three-time NCAA champ and never lost a college match, but in the middle of his college career he had to take a break from wrestling to go fly planes in WWII. He’s the only wrestler to win NCAA titles on both sides of the war. His NCAA titles came in 1941, 1942, and 1946. He was Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA tournament in 1942.

He flew over 100 combat missions as a P38 pilot in WW2. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Four Clusters and six Bronze Battle Stars.

J. Robinson: Robinson wrestled for the Cowboys in the late 1960’s and made the Olympic team in 1972. He is one of the more successful coaches to come from Oklahoma State. He was an assistant for Iowa during seven of their NCAA team titles then went on to be head coach at Minnesota and won three NCAA team titles there.

Here’s the background on Robinson’s Army career.

Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State in 1969, before beginning his service in the military. While at Oklahoma State, he was in the ROTC program and left as a Distinguished Military Student, Distinguished Military Graduate and was offered a Regular Army Commission as a Second Lieutenant in June 1969. Robinson then attended Airborne and Ranger School (Honor Graduate), as well as Jungle Warfare School, before beginning his tour in Vietnam.

In late 1970 through early 1971, Robinson was attached to the United States Military Academy in the athletic department. In February of 1971, he left for Vietnam and was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade and served the remainder of his tour with the First Cavalry Division.

In 1996 the Army reached out to Robinson and he helped develop the Modern Army Combatives system the Army still uses today. Robinson still voluntarily teaches courses on the system.

Randy Couture: Couture could arguably be considered one of the more famous athletes to ever come from Oklahoma State. One of the pioneers of UFC, Couture won titles at both light heavyweight and heavyweight during his career. During his time at OSU he was a three-time All American and two-time NCAA finalist.

Prior to coming to OSU, Couture served six years in the Army in the 101st Airborne Division during the Cold War. Today Couture is on the board of directors for Merging Vets and Players whose mission is to “match up combat veterans and former professional athletes together — after the uniform comes off — to give them a new team to tackle the transition together.”

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