In the last week, many notable Americans have passed away. This week saw the loss of a notable figure in hip-hop, one of football's great receivers, a beloved sports announcer, a trailblazing human rights lawyer and the man who flew World War II's final mission. These amazing people came from various walks of life, helping to shape American culture in some way. May they be put in memoriam forever.


Reggie Joseph Ossè (1969-2017) was a hip-hop music attorney and executive, as well as a journalist and podcaster who went by the nickname Combat Jack.

He spent 12 years in the music industry as a renowned lawyer for Def Jam Recordings, representing various artists before he retired. Ossè then wrote “Bling: The Hip-Hop Jewelry Book”, served as Vice President of Audio/Music DVD at what is now Viacom Media Networks and was managing editor of “The Source” magazine.

He then started working on blogging before he started hosting “The Combat Jack Show”, which grew to become arguably the pioneering hip-hop podcast. In 2013, Ossè co-founded Loud Speakers Network, a network of podcasts that “The Combat Jack Show” was featured on. Ossè died on December 20 at age 48 from colon cancer only two months after being diagnosed with the disease.


Charlie Hennigan (1935-2017) was a wide receiver who played for the AFL's Houston Oilers from 1960-66.

He went undrafted out of Northwestern State and taught high school marine biology before joining the team during their first season. Hennigan scored the first in team history on a catch for future Hall of Famer George Blanda in his rookie season. In his second season, Hennigan amassed 1,746 yards in 14 games, a record which stood until Issac Bruce (1,781) and Jerry Rice (1,848) broke it in 1995.

That year he had 272 yards in one game, the third most ever at the time. He still holds that records for most receiving yards in one month, recording 822 that October. In 1964, he recorded 101 catches in a season. This record stood as the most in a single season until Art Monk caught 106 in 1984. Hennigan finished his career with 410 catches for 6,823 yards and 51 touchdowns.

He made five Pro Bowls, three AP All-Pro teams and won two AFL championships. Hennigan died on December 20 at age 82.

Dick Enberg (1935-2017) was a versatile Hall of Fame sports broadcaster whose career spanned six decades and became known for his signature catchphrase “Oh, my!” He started his career as the play-by-play announcer for Indian Hoosiers football and basketball while in college. In the late 1960s, he started a full-time broadcasting career in Los Angeles, covering the Rams, Angles, UCLA, and boxing matches. In 1968, he covered the “Game of the Century” between UCLA and Houston.

In the 1970s, he hosted the game show “Sports Challenge” and co-produced the Emmy-winning sports series “The Way It Was.” Enberg then worked for NBC (1974-99), CBS (2000-11) and ESPN (2004-11) covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, college sports, tennis, boxing, golf and the Olympics. He spent the end of his career as the play-by-play for the San Deigo Padres (2010-16)

Over his career, Enberg won 13 Sports Emmy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy and is the only sportscaster to win Emmys in broadcasting, producing and writing. He received multiple Sportscaster of the Year awards from various outlets and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the broadcasting wings of the Pro Football, Basketball, and Baseball Hall of Fames.

Enberg died on December 21 at age 82 from a suspected heart attack.


Janet Benshoof (1947-2017) earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and taught humans rights law at the school, as well as Bard College. She litigated in courts in over 40 states, as well as in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and in various international forums. Benshoof's work ranged from getting approval for emergency contraception from the FDA in the U.S. to getting international rape law applied in the Iraqi High Tribunal's production of Saddam-era war crimes.

Benshoof also served as the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project for 15 years until 1992. That year she founded and became president of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), the world's first international human rights organization focused on women's rights to equality. Benshoof helped the CRR gain consultative status to the United Nations (UN) and helped the organization develop legal status in over 40 countries.

In 2005, she left the CRR to found and become president of the Global Justice Center (GJC). This international human rights organization works to implement and enforce human rights laws that support gender equality. In her career, she also wrote numerous publications, appeared on a number of TV shows and received several honors.

Benshoof died on December 18 at age 70, one month after being diagnosed with uterine serous carcinoma, a type of endometrial cancer.

Jerry Yellin (1924-2017) was a United States Army Air Forces pilot, know for flying the last combat mission of World War II on August 14, 1945. Captain Yellin and his wingman First Lieutenant Phil Schlamberg executed their mission against a military airfield near Tokoyo five days after the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki.

As they were executing their mission, Japan announced its unconditional surrender as it had accepted the Potsdam Declaration.

The U.S. military attempted to broadcast to the men that the war had ended, but they did not hear it. They carried out their mission against the airfield and then banked into a cloud cover. However, Schlamberg's plane never came out and was apparently shot down, making him the final known combat death of the war. Yellin then flew back to his base on Iwo Jima, where he learned the war had ended.

In 2010, he helped to get Congress to unanimously vote to acknowledge the Spirit of 45' Day on August 2nd, to honor the men and women of the WWII generation. Yellin helped to contribute to and write the foreword to Don Brown's book “The Last Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Final Combat Mission of World War II”, which came out this August.

Yellin died on December 21 at age 93 after battling lung cancer.