Before becoming president of the Giants.
Before the championships.
Before the Hall of Fame induction.
Before serving on NFL committees.
Before the NFL football was named "The Duke" after him.
Before dedicating his civilian life to football, Wellington Mara, at the age of 25, enlisted in the United States Navy on November 10, 1941, with the country on the brink of entering World War II. He was assigned to active duty the following January, and on May 1, he was commissioned as a lieutenant upon completion of Midshipman and Flight Director School.
From October of 1944 until his honorable discharge in November of 1945, Lt. Mara served overseas in the South Pacific. He was one of nine Naval Radar Officers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Randolph.
During his tenure on the ship, Lt. Mara's frequent written correspondence with his parents, Tim and Lizette, and his brother, Jack, provided intimate insights and details of his military experiences.
The letters also served as a critical lifeline between himself and his family back home in New York.
In the decades to come, these letters remained stored away until Susan McDonnell, the eldest daughter of Wellington and Ann, discovered them – and other artifacts – in an attic. A portion were made public for the first time in recent years, and Giants.com is proud to provide a look into the courageous person Wellington was – and so many like him were – as the Giants host their annual Salute to Service game this Sunday.
JANUARY 17, 1945
In January of 1945, the USS Randolph set sail from Pearl Harbor and anchored 17 days later at Ulithi Atoll -- a tiny collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean 1,300 miles south of Japan -- and were awaiting orders for their first mission.
MAIL HAS BEEN COMING IN PRETTY WELL, AND I RECEIVED ABOUT TEN LETTERS YESTERDAY.
NOW THAT EVERYONE IS BACK ON BOARD, WE ARE READING THE PAPERS AND GETTING A LITTLE IMPATIENT—BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
I DIDN'T THINK THAT I WOULD BE GETTING EAGER BUT IT LOOKS AS THOUGH I AM.
WE HAVE A GREAT BUNCH AND I KNOW WE'LL DO O.K.
I FIND MYSELF PRETTY MUCH IN THE POSITION OF A "PLAYING COACH".
PRACTICALLY ALL OF OUR MEN ARE WITHOUT PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AND THEY LOOK UP TO US.
I'VE HAD THREE YEARS OF GETTING READY FOR THE "BIG LEAGUE" AND AS I SAID BEFORE I'M GETTING EAGER.
I THINK I CAN HANDLE THE JOB—NOT WORRIED ABOUT IT ANYWAY.
WILL WRITE AGAIN SOON
LOVE TO ALL
View the video below for more on Lt. Mara's military service as told through private letters to his family.
A rare look at late Giants owner Wellington Mara's service in the U.S. Navy during World War II