So many awards and honors are doled out to athletes these days that a 3-8 high school football team’s awards ceremony may appear, on the surface and at best, anticlimactic.
But that won’t be the case this Sunday afternoon (Dec. 7) on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor when the Red Raiders will be feted in the Knight Auditorium at BHS by The Quarterback Club and the presentation of this year’s 80th Annual Jean G. Hinkle Memorial Athletic Award.
The “Hinkle Trophy,” as it’s more aptly known, is the oldest high school athletic honor on Cape Cod and it is, without question, deemed one of if not the most prestigious athletic honor in the region. Recipients since it was first awarded in 1935 by the “matriarch of Red Raider sports,” the late Jean G. Hinkle, have included future collegiate All-Americans, Ivy Leaguers, public officials and military leaders.
Two such leaders and “Hinkle Trophy” recipients became career soldiers with the United States Army, both of them becoming Brigadier Generals.
U.S. Army Ret. Brigadier General Ernie Audino, who captained the 1978 Red Raiders, retired from military service in 2011 after 28 years. Recently promoted U.S. Army Brigadier General Gary M. Brito graduated from Barnstable High in 1982.
A native of Hyannis, Brig. Gen. Brito was promoted to the general officers ranks from the rank of colonel on June 25, 2014. On June 30, 2014, he assumed duties as the Director, Force 2025 and Beyond, U.S. Army Capabilities and Integration Center, (TRADOC). Prior to that assignment, he most recently served as the Corps Operations Officer (G3) for III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas. In that capacity, he deployed and served as the Deputy Director, Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) Development, ISAF Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Brito received the Hinkle Trophy in 1981 and Audino received the award in 1978. Brito played his senior year for former Red Raider head football coach Mark Titus – now the BHS boys golf coach. Audino played all four high school seasons for Dorr and he is a native of Centerville.
In interviews this week, both men pointed directly to their experiences playing Red Raider sports – in particular, football – as the critical formative years of their leadership skills. Audino, one of the world’s leading experts on the war in Iraq, detailed in his retirement speech that while standing on the sidelines at W. Leo Shields Memorial Field in the late 1970s not for one moment could he have imagined such an intense or intensely gratifying military career. A lengthy combat veteran who spent a full year “embedded” in the mountains of Iraq with a Kurdish Peshmerga brigade, said he owes many of life’s lessons to those halcyon days of “hitting the blocking sled” or doing countless “up down” drills under Coach Dorr’s tutelage.
“The example that Don Dorr set for us, what it took to motivate teammates, to work in concert toward a common goal… were my first lessons in real sacrifice,” Brig. Gen. Audino said. “Those lessons came on that football field.”
Audino’s career included meeting Gen. Omar N. Bradley – credited with having commanded the largest American force under one man’s leadership in World War II – Pres. George W. Bush and Muammar Gaddafi.
“I even had my ass chewed out by Henry Kissinger,” Audino recalled with a laugh.
But in harkening back to his days on the high school football fields of Cape Cod, Audino was forthright and candid about how those days influenced his life.
“Any successes during that career are not my successes,” he said, “they are the successes of the men on my teams, built from their selflessness, sacrifice, competence and courage. I love them, period. You know, not that leaders need to think about their legacy, but it is safe to say that any real leader’s legacy is his effect on the junior members of his team, because your actions now shape them to carry on long after you’re gone. Think about that. That is what a good coach does, whether they are carrying a weapon or a football.”
Following his promotion in June, Brig. Gen. Brito was highly commended by fellow United States Army officers, and in particular, by First Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker who called the former Red Raider a true “success story.”
And it was one that began in the fall of 1981 when Brito’s family moved back to Hyannis. A Navy brat through high school, Brito returned home to Hyannis just two weeks before football season began and it was, for the lanky defensive end, a season of great success. What he said he remembers most, though, was the team’s pre-season camp in Duxbury, having to swim together across a “long pond” and then at the end of the season when each player received a plaque with one word and one definition engraved upon it: “Tenacity.”
“That stuck with me then and it sticks with me today,” said the career-long infantry officer. “To give all you can. To be relentless. It was a message in leadership and discipline that carried over in successes in life.”
Brig. Gen. Brito was commissioned an Infantry officer through Penn State University and entered active duty in March 1987. He received a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University and a Master of Science degree in Joint Strategy and Campaign Planning from the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS). Brig. Gen. Brito is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Airborne and Ranger schools, Combined Arms Staff Services School, Command General and Staff Officers Course and completed senior service college at the Joint Advanced Warfighting Course, Norfolk, Virginia.
“I’m so proud of him,” said World War II veteran Sebastian Pina, now 90, and still living in the same place in Marstons Mills he’s lived his entire life. “To think a boy from Hyannis grew up to become a general. A real general! Boy, that’s something. That’s really something.”
Pina, one of the oldest living veterans on Cape Cod, has been a member of VFW Post 5489 in Mashpee and Barnstable Post 206 American Legion since the 1950s. There is nary a veteran on the Cape he’s not aware of or hasn’t met yet and he has known the Brito family of Barnstable for nearly as long as he’s been alive. Pina received a personal letter from Brig. Gen. Brito just a few weeks ago sending congratulations on reaching his ninth decade and the elder statesman of Cape Cod veterans was beaming as proudly as if the letter had been sent by one of his own sons.
“I could not be any more proud or happy for him,” Pina said.
Hinkle Award aside, Brig. Gen. Brito’s military career has taken him a world away from the humble backyards and playgrounds and playing fields of his native Hyannis, and revealed the true import of what playing for the Red Raiders can imbue in the character of an impressionable teenager.
He has served in a variety of command and staff assignments to include 5th BN, 502d Infantry Regiment, Berlin, Germany, Company commander in 1st Battalion, 19th Regiment and Small Group instructor (SGI) for the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Fort Benning, Georgia. BG Brito has twice served at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California; first, as a company/team and battle-staff observer/controller and later as a Senior Battalion and Brigade Combat Team trainer. Operational assignments include battalion operations officer (S3) in 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment and later as the Brigade operations officer (S3), 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division; Battalion Commander, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and Brigade Commander, 120th Infantry Brigade, First Army. Additionally, he served as an aide-de-camp to the III Corps Commanding General, Fort Hood, Texas and Chief, Commander’s Planning Group (CPG) and interim executive officer to Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
“For the first time in many years, two former First Army brigade commanders have been selected for promotion into the general officer ranks. Col. Gary M. Brito, former commander of the 120th Infantry Brigade at Fort Hood, and Col. William A. Turner, former commander of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Hood, were confirmed by the Senate on June 25 for promotion to brigadier general. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Col. Brito and Col. Turner, who both served in Division West from 2009 to 2011. Our Army leaders, along with all of us in First Army, recognize the outstanding leadership and performance of these two great Soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, Commanding General of the First Army. “This is truly a success story that deserves to be highlighted and told. Why? Because it clearly demonstrates that service in First Army is linked to the potential for career advancement and positions of great responsibility in our Army. Col. Brito’s and Col. Turner’s selection for promotion – along with many other First Army alumni – indicates that a tour with First Army can facilitate career success, leading to continued service, quality assignments and future advancement potential.”
The Jean G. Hinkle Memorial Athletic Award carries with it a college scholarship. Hinkle, who hailed from Osterville, often provided much-needed funding for Red Raider athletic teams from the 1930s through the 1950s. Last year’s recipient of the Hinkle Award was Hayden Murphy of Centerville and a 2013 Barnstable High School football captain and 2014 BHS graduate. He now attends Princeton. Murphy’s grandfather James E. Murphy (1954) and uncle Bill Murphy (1987) were also recipients.