NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Coast Guard Academy will announce the details of the Emlen Tunnell Strength & Conditioning Center project at halftime of the Secretaries' Cup game against the Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday which will air live on ESPN3 at noon.
The ground breaking Emlen Tunnell Strength & Conditioning Center will begin later this month.
Tunnell enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1943. In April of 1944, while unloading explosives and gasoline at Aitape in Papua New Guinea, the Etamin, a cargo ship that he served on was struck by a torpedo dropped from a Japanese airplane. Tunnell saved a fellow crew member who was set afire in the blast, beat out the flames with his hands, sustained burns to his own hands, and carried the shipmate to safety
In the fall of 1944, Tunnell played at the halfback position for the San Francisco Coast Guard Pilots football team and he was named to the All-Pacific Coast service football team. He also played basketball for the San Francisco Coast Guard.
In March 1946, while stationed at Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland, Tunnell rescued a shipmate who fell from the USS Tampa. Tunnell jumped into the 32-degree water and saved his drowning shipmate.
In 2011, Tunnell was posthumously awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for his heroism in rescuing his shipmates on the Etamin and Tampa.
On December 12, 2017, the Coast Guard announced that it planned to name its 45th Sentinel class cutter the USCGC Emlen Tunnell .
Tunnell was the first African American and first defensive player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. He was the first African American player for the New York Giants and went on to become the first African American scout, talent scout, assistant coach and first full-time assistant coach in the NFL.
In his NFL career he played in nine Pro Bowls and his 79 career interceptions were and NFL record and remain second most in NFL history. His 1,282 interception return yards were an NFL record for four decades and rank fifth all-time. He played in 158 consecutive games which was also an NFL record when he retired.
Tunnell was named to the NFL's 1950's All-Decade Team as a safety, and was one of 16 players named to the all-time All-Pro team selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and was inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
In 2010, he was one of the 22 players included in the New York Giants Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium.
He was discharged from the Coast Guard in April 1946 and enrolled at the University of Iowa in the fall of 1946. Playing for the 1946 Iowa football team, Tunnell led the team with 541 yards of total offense and 28 pass completions and ranked second on the team with 333 rushing yards. On October 11, 1947, he set an Iowa single-game record with 155 receiving yards and three touchdowns on six receptions.
The U.S. Coast Guard has announced plans to name a new fast response cutter after Tunnell and the intended receipt date for this cutter well be in 2021.