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MASSAD, ERNEST L. "IRON MIKE" (1908-1993)

Champion athlete, general of the U.S. Army, and independent oilman, Ernest L. "Iron Mike" Massad was born on December 25, 1908, to Namey and Shafiga Kouri Massad in Brinkman, Oklahoma. The Massads and Kouris were among Oklahoma's earliest Syrian-Lebanese families.

"Iron Mike" Massad graduated from Ardmore High School and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played football. An All-American, he earned the sobriquet "Iron Mike" for his toughness and prowess on the gridiron. Later, Sports Illustrated magazine chose him for its Silver Anniversary All American Team. Massad participated in Reserve Officers' Training Corps and after graduation was commissioned in 1933. He served in the First Cavalry Division from 1940 to 1943 and during World War II also served in the Eighty-second Airborne Division. He rose to battalion command in the Eleventh Airborne Division in the Pacific theater of operations. In 1946 he retired from active duty but continued in the U. S. Army Reserve until 1968, where he rose to the rank of general. Among Massad's service awards were the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Presidential Unit Citation. Massad capped his career as a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the administration of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson.

Massad married Mozelle Sockwell in 1939, and the union produced a son, Michael, and a daughter, Elaine. The Massads made their home in Ardmore, where Massad operated E. L. Massad Oil Company. "Iron Mike" Massad died on February 20, 1993, in Oklahoma City.

SEE ALSO: MIDDLE EASTERNERS, WORLD WAR II.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Tom Caldwell, "From the Hills of Lebanon: The Syrian-Lebanese in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 64 (Summer 1986). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 22 February 1993.

Dianna Everett

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