John Thomas Mayberry received a special gift this past Saturday when Darryl Fuhrman, who is the founder and president of The Lettermen of the U.S.A., presented him with a commemorative football signed by the University of Alabama Coach Nick Saban.
Mayberry, who grew up in Sumiton, played football for the Dora Bulldogs. When he turned 17, he quit school and joined the U.S. Navy.
“I decided on the Navy because I’d have a roof over my head and something to eat,” Mayberry said with a smile. He served as gunner’s mate.
Fuhrman, who played football for the University of Alabama from 1985 to 1987, gave a brief history of the organization he founded.
The Lettermen of the U.S.A. started with more than 200 former football players from Auburn and Alabama joined together to raise funds to aid the Alabama recovery following the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
“We take the many skills of former athletes, active and former coaches, and built a national platform to help our nation’s veterans,” Fuhrman said.
The group decided to use their notoriety to help the community. They do Wheels for Heroes, Homes for Heroes, Autographs for Heroes, and Former Players in Need.
It was the Autographs for Heroes program that Mayberry’s’ stepson Steve Shube learned about on social media. He thought this would be a perfect way to honor his stepdad for his service during World War II.
The Lettermen organization provides support to the Semper Fi Community Task Force as well as A Soldier’s Journey Home organization. Oher causes the Lettermen support includes disaster relief, the inner-city homeless, and former athletes who are facing challenges, according to Fuhrman.