Akron Beacon Journal
Jim Mackinnon • Akron Beacon Journal • Published 5:30 p.m. ET Nov. 2, 2021
Ralph and friends just wanted to get together and watch the Ohio State-Penn State football game Saturday night.
But instead of a fun time at American Legion Post 449 on Akron’s Kenmore Boulevard, Ralph and another vet found themselves running to the aid of a friend and fighting off an ambush and assault.
It all started when one of Ralph’s Legion friends and fellow veterans stood quietly outside the back of the Legion hall by an alley smoking a cigarette. A small four-door sedan with at least three young men inside drove down the alley and stopped in front of him.
A couple seconds later, a man in the front passenger seat stepped out and suddenly pushed and began pummeling the veteran. A second man in the backseat got out and began throwing punches as well.
A video camera captured the whole thing, including Ralph, a 61-year-old Army veteran, and another Legion member rushing out the back door to help their fellow veteran. (The Beacon Journal is not using Ralph’s full name at the request of family because of safety concerns.)
Ralph saw the altercation start on a live video feed inside the hall. It was between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. He and a friend charged outside.
“All me and Bill did was go out there and try to break it up,” Ralph said Tuesday, recalling the incident as he stood outside the Legion hall. He wore a camouflage Army jacket.
“We went out to try to stop them,” he said.
It appears a third man, the car driver, also joined the fray. The veterans asserted themselves, with the assault lasting about a minute and 30 seconds. The men in the car drove off. Ralph and his buddies declined medical attention, police said.
Ralph and his friends got punched and kicked. Ralph has a black eye. One friend will need eye surgery, he said.
Ralph said he doesn’t know the motive for the attack but does not think it was about robbing money. He doesn’t think the men in the car got away with anything.
Ralph, a 61-year-old U.S. Army veteran, gestures to the area where he came to aid a fellow vet who was being assaulted in the smoking area behind the American Legion Post 449 on Kenmore Boulevard in Akron.
“I didn’t see no weapons,” he said.
The men from the car appeared to be in their early 20s, he said. All of them weighed at least 160 to 170 pounds; Ralph said he weighs less than 150 pounds.
“If that’s all those boys got to do with their time, they need a new hobby,” he said. “These were not a bunch of high school kids or anything like that. These kids should know the difference between right and wrong. … It was their decision to stop and not keep on going.”
He doesn’t remember the guys from the car saying anything while they were fighting.
Ralph grew up in Kenmore not far from the Legion hall, attended Buchtel High School and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. He stayed in the service 18 years. He was in the artillery and served during Desert Storm but did not see battle. He joined Legion Post 449 in 2009.
“We want the guys caught,” he said.
Akron police said they fully investigating the incident and believe they are close to identifying two people from the car. Police said they also expect to be able to identify a third person from the vehicle as well.