by J.R. Vanhoose
The Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Series began in 1940; That summer one game was played between the “best” players in each state at Butler Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on August 16, 1940. Kentucky was in the lead at the half, 18 to 12. However, the Hoosiers battled back and took their first lead in the game in the final minutes of the contest. Toward the end, Kentuckian Joe Fulks was fouled twice. Instead of shooting free throws, Kentucky coach Ed Diddle of Western Kentucky Teachers College (now WKU) decided to have his team inbound the ball and try to score a basket. According to the rules at the time, if a player was fouled the team could either shoot free throws or they could keep possession of the ball and try to score from the field. The boys from the bluegrass failed to score on each of their two possessions and Indiana sealed their victory with a late basket by Warren Lewis. Kentucky only scored once in the final quarter, on a basket by Fulks, that made the final score 31 to 29 — Kentucky had lost the first game of the series.
The second game of this series was again played at Butler Fieldhouse on August 22, 1941. The Kentucky team, relying heavily on the starting five from Martin County’s Inez High School, who had just been crowned the Kentucky state basketball champions, were greatly outmatched by the height of the Indiana high school boys. It has been said that coach Ed Diddle, again in command of the Kentucky boys, brought in a “ringer,” a mysterious man that was not eligible to play in the game, that he hoped would help the Kentucky side win. That player was 6’4” “Gibb” Stout who claimed to be from Cumberland High School. According to All-Star Memories: A History of The Indianapolis Star’s Indiana-Kentucky High School All-Star Basketball Series, 1939-1989, the official Kentucky roster included Gibb Stout of Cumberland High School. No trace of Stout could ever be found. Inquiries were made to people who played on the Cumberland High School team in 1941 and none knew or had ever heard of Stout. Members of the 1941 All-Star team remembered a player by that name, but knew nothing about him… the player’s identity remains a mystery.”
The game was a close one early, with Kentucky only trailing by two at halftime, 22 to 20. But Indiana was just too much in the second half, going on a 21-8 run at one point and winning for the second year in a row 52 to 41. Indiana was paced by Leroy Mangin, who was named the Star of Stars (best player of the game) with 14 points. The Kentucky five from Inez provided much of the offensive firepower by scoring a combined 31 points, led by Bill Taylor with 8. “Gibb” Stout, the mystery man from Cumberland High, only contributed 2 points.
So who was this mysterious player brought in to help the Kentucky boys? Upon further research, it appears that this player was none other than Charles “Gibb” Stout, of Whitley Co., KY. Stout was born on January 13, 1921 in Whitley County, his age being 20 when he appeared in the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game. He attended Saxton High School in Whitley County where he was an All-District selection at the end of the 1937-38 season. When the school closed later in 1938 he transferred for his senior year to nearby Williamsburg High School, where he was a member of the Yellow Jacket basketball team. Even though he was a senior during the 1938-39 school year he was not listed as a graduate of Williamsburg in The Whitley Republican in May 1939. His sister Harriet later described him as, “[a] superb basketball player… basketball was on his mind day and night… [He] had offers of athletic scholarships to several Kentucky colleges… but we were at war… [he] volunteered and became a paratrooper.” According to available records he did enlist in the Army on April 27, 1942 at Ft. Thomas, Campbell Co., KY. After enlistment he volunteered for a new service that was just a few years old – the paratroopers. Training was very rigorous for the new service. Men who could not complete the required training, including making five “jumps” out of an aircraft, were removed from the paratroopers. Stout made it through training and became a member of Co. F of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division. The regiment was sent to Europe and arrived in England in late 1943 and began preparations for the planned allied invasion of Normandy. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Stout was a part of the Allied airborne invasion that took place hours before the beach landings. The objective for the 507th was to help secure the Merderet River crossings. The aircraft flying paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions came under heavy German anti-aircraft fire flying over the French coast. The plane carrying Stout and others of his company was hit and he was wounded “by enemy anti-aircraft fire while ‘hooked-up’ awaiting his turn to jump from the C-47.” 1st Lt. Walter Heisler described the event, “I unhooked to take a look at Stout… After determining that he was indeed wounded, he had to be unhooked due to the severity of his wounds.” The plane, fell out of formation, dipping down to 700 feet to drop the 18 unwounded paratroopers over France. After the soldiers left the plane, the C-47 began a climb in height but was again hit by German anti-aircraft fire from the 5th Battery of the 191st German Artillery Regiment. The control panel was shot away by the flak and radio operator Orlo Montgomery was severely wounded. The pilot and remaining crew parachuted out of the plane leaving the wounded soldiers Stout and Montgomery still aboard. The “leaderless” plane then crashed near the village of Rocheville. The body of Private Charles “Gibb” Stout, the “ringer” coach Ed Diddle brought in for the 1941 Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game, was recovered from the crash site. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the French Croix de Guerre Unit Citation for his participation in the Normandy invasion and is buried in Plot B, Row 7, Grave 19 in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur-Mer, France. In 1999 a monument was dedicated in the French village of Negreville to the American soldiers of who participated in the D-Day attack, a small photo of “Gibb” Stout is included in the memorial.