High School Boys

May 25, 2010

Enners Site Offers History, Honors Legend

by Chris R. Vaccaro | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Many know Ray Enners for the awards named in his honor and lacrosse lore, but few know the real story about Enners’ heroic actions in Vietnam on Sept. 18, 1968.

Now thanks to the revamped RayEnnersAwardWinners.com, the world can learn more about the selfless soldier and the many talented high school players in Suffolk County (N.Y.) boys' lacrosse that have earned the privilege of calling themselves Ray Enners Award winners.

“This award should be celebrated and recognized to keep the memory of Ray Enners alive,” said Charles Bindert, a tech entrepreneur that recently got involved with Web development for high school sports.

The site gives a history of Enners’ life and shares a profile of every winner of the award given to the top Suffolk County high school boys' lacrosse player since 1970 in terms of leadership and quality each year. The site also has photos of the winners, photos of Enners, text from the original military document written about Enners’ death, as well as a functionality to search for winners via colleges, positions, high schools or All-American status.

You can read about players like Jonathan Reese, who went on to set the NCAA single-season scoring record, or players like Joe Romeo, who drove into New York City almost daily to donate blood platelets to his brother K.C. and drove back out to Comsewogue High to practice.

“It's one of the highest honors you can get,” said Lehigh University head coach Kevin Cassese, who won the award in 1999 while also playing for Comsewogue. “It was a product of the guys around me. The award is about being a leader. I learned about caring for others and service and taking pride in your community.”

A Long Island native who played lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills High School, Enners took his prolific scoring touch to West Point.

Before he played for Army, he was known as “The Machine” in high school. He captained the football, basketball and lacrosse teams and was named All-County, All-Long Island and Honorable Mention All-America in lacrosse.

Enners was a part of the first five Suffolk County championship games during his varsity career.

"He was probably the best lacrosse player I've ever coached," said Bill Martens, Enners' coach at Hills. "He was sensational. He had everything you could ask for in an attackman.”

Martens recalled Enners always wanting to attend West Point, with the goal of representing Army on the lacrosse field. In a day and age when statistics and records weren't kept much at the high school level on Long Island, most prominent names have escaped modern day historical lingo, but few don't know the name Ray Enners in lacrosse circles, and few Army aficionados are unaware of his heroism.

“While moving across a small valley, his platoon was ambushed by a reinforced North Vietnamese Army squad firing machine guns, automatic weapons and small arms from camouflaged positions on a hillside,” a military document said of the incident in which Enners was killed. “A squad leader was severely wounded and fell within twenty meters of the communists. Helplessly trapped by raking fire from the enemy gunners, the badly bleeding squad leader called for help, but the deadly hostile fire kept anyone from reaching him. Lieutenant Enners, hearing his cries, began moving forward to rescue him.

“From his position one hundred meters back, he crawled forward through the rice paddies and leaped across the intervening dikes, dodging through continuous bursts of enemy fire until he reached his forward squad trapped behind a dike twenty meters from the fallen squad leader.

"Charging through a hail of fire, he moved to within fifteen meters of the enemy before he was fatally wounded by hostile machine gun fire.”

“He would have been 23,” said his brother Rich Enners, who was in his second year at West Point at the time. “It was not surprising. That's the kind of person that he was.”

The man Lt. Enners risked his life to save, whose name is unknown, hails from Huntington, N.Y, according to Rich and Martens. Ironically, Huntington is Hills' close rival.

The Enners name lives on in multiple ways today. His name is on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., one of the athletic hallways at West Point is named in his honor, and the Lt. Raymond Enners Award is presented by the USILA to the NCAA National Player of the Year in men's lacrosse. The Army MVP each season is also given the Lt. Enners-Chris Pettit Award.
Ray Enners is an American hero and his name will live forever.

Check out the site: www.RayEnnersAwardWinners.com

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