Home / Featured / Former AU ROTC instructor started ‘Auburn’s Little Tigers in Vietnam’ basketball team during the Vietnam War

Former AU ROTC instructor started ‘Auburn’s Little Tigers in Vietnam’ basketball team during the Vietnam War

The Plainsman illustration for a story in its March 28, 1968 headlined ”Thank God for the good people of Auburn” about the Auburn’s Little Tigers in Vietnam basketball team.

When it comes to spreading the Auburn gospel to the children of the world, Chris Lowe’s missionary efforts (“another one saved”) stand alone on a mountain of Facebook shares and retweets.

But I’d say recognition is probably long overdue for Sgt. Charles Muscat, a former ROTC instructor at Auburn, whose efforts might be even more awesome not only in terms of lasting, life-changing impact, but context.

Lowe lead an entire South Korean school in Auburn cheers before the Auburn’s national championship match up again Oregon. Muscat helped procure 600 pounds of clothes donated by Auburn students for the School of the Holy Cross orphanage in Vietnam following the Tet Offensive. Then he taught the orphans how to play basketball. Judging by the name of their team, they must have dominated.

“Needless to say he (Cha Joachim, the priest in charge of the school) was thrilled to receive this news of the clothes drive, especially at this time,” Muscat wrote Auburn students Paul Nix and Brice James, who organized the drive, in a letter printed in the March 28, 1968 issue of the Auburn Plainsman. “We decided on a name of our basketball team. The name is ‘Auburn’s Con Cop Nko-Vietnam.”

Translation: Auburn’s Little Tigers in Vietnam.

“For short, we’ll call them ‘Con Cop Nko’ (Little Tigers).”

Basketball was no doubt a welcome distraction at the school. Muscat said the letter informing the orphanage of the upcoming donation was actually penned during the offensive. The Little Tigers and their classmates were able to escape before 2,000 Vietcong soldiers poured into the orphanage, 1,000 of which died during the battle in the schools village, many on school grounds according to Muscat.

“Right now our equipment consists of a bottomless waste paper basket for the goal and a somewhat beat up volleyball which is used as a basketball, and a soccer ball,” he wrote. “The ball has a damned leak in it, and I can’t find the leak so I have to keep pumping it up during games. However, I expect to get a regular goal and ball in the near future.”

Thanks to Auburn students, clothes weren’t a problem.

“Since Auburn’s 600 pounds of clothes will be among the first to arrive in this area, every titch of it will find immediate use,” Muscat wrote. “To quote one of the nuns at the orphanage as best I can translate: ‘Thank God for the good people of Auburn.'”

Related: The War Eagle jeep in Vietnam.

Keep Reading:

* Show Some Pigskin: An Illustrated Guide to Auburn’s Playboy All-Americans
* Auburn-educated astronaut wanted ‘War Eagle’ to be first words on the moon
Smithsonian Magazine photographs kid in Auburn hat at Texas prom
The WiFi Network Names of Auburn
Auburn’s Legend of Zelda
* That time they burned the Glom
* Auburn’s 1960 cheesecake schedule
* I think of Kurt Crain

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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