The program at the press conference described new inductee Dwayne Nix as, ?the local kid who made good.? However, it would have been just as accurate if it had read, ?the man who devoted his life to his nation.?
The College Football Hall of Fame will tell you that Dwayne Nix was an outstanding football player. He was a three-time member of the Associated Press Little All-America Team. Nix?s senior squad appeared in the NAIA championship game. He concluded his career as the school?s all-time leading receiver and has been named to numerous all-time school and conference teams.
While Nix was accomplishing all his success in college football, however, he new Vietnam was in his future. ?The school told us early on that the selective service wasn?t going to give us any more than four years to complete college. After that we would be drafted,? said Nix.
After college, Nix was commissioned into the Marine Corps as an H-1 pilot. He soon ran into Michael Akin, whom he had met in 1965 on the football field.
?We played against each other in college,? said Akin. ?I remember how he just didn?t really seem to fit the stereotypical mold of a receiver. He wasn?t that tall, and couldn?t outrun his mother, but he had a great set of hands and more heart than anyone else on the field?
According to Akin, the same heart and determination that made him successful on the football field transferred over to his military service. ?He was the go-to guy in Vietnam. He was the guy that made things happen,? Akin said.
After his first enlistment of five years, Nix got out of the Marine Corps to work for Bell Helicopter Company, which in 1977 led him to working on company projects in Iran until the evacuation of U.S. personnel in 1979.
It was shortly after that Nix decided to go back to the Marine Corps. ?He had been out for seven years and he wanted to fly again. In 1981 he got his commission and started flying CH-46s with HMM 774 in Norfolk,? Akin said.
A few years later the ?go-to-guy? from Vietnam was flying combat operations again, but this time it was in Iraq. According to Akin, it took a little sneakiness on Nix?s part to get his orders to Desert Storm.
Akin said, ?He didn?t have orders originally, but he was able to get them through Col. Steve Bowman who played football with him in college. He told his wife he got called up, but she never knew that he actually volunteered.?
After Desert Storm, Nix stayed in the USMCR until September 1, 2001, and retired with 34 years and two wars in the Marine Corps. ?I got out the service and took a job as the OIC of the Crisis Response Center at the Pentagon,? he said.
Nix, now a retired colonel, says it?s been hard to believe his service is over, and that he feels like he really hasn?t accepted it yet.
At the press conference before his enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame, Nix summed up his the source of his accomplishments by saying, ?You?ll always have people tell you that you don?t fit the model, or you can?t do what you want to do. I say to you, ?Keep trying.?