I don't hold out too much hope of an Army victory over Navy tomorrow, so I thought it might be fun to tell you about my first Army-Navy game, in 1983.
My first Army-Navy game was in the Rose Bowl.
It was quite an undertaking. 4000 cadets and 4000 midshipmen were flown across the US to Southern California, where we were (voluntarily) quartered amongst the populace. I don't know if they were just rumors or not, but I recall hearing that both Hugh Hefner and Lynda Carter had offered to house some cadets and midshipmen, but West Point denied both requests--I don't know if Navy did or not. Disneyland had us for a night--only cadets, midshipmen, and their guests were allowed in; I don't think we paid, but I might be mistaken.
Our sponsors, the folks who housed us over the Thanksgiving weekend, got us to the appropriate location on time, and we marched about 2 miles through Pasadena to the Rose Bowl. Both sides of the street were lined several people thick with cheering fans, which was a great feeling for a beanhead (plebe/freshman). When we got to the stadium I was a designated usher, and I was brought into the stadium to help people find their seats in the stands.
At one point, standing alone in my section of the stands, I saw an NCO not too far from me. When he got closer I saw a baby blue ribbon around his neck. I may not have known much as a beanhead, but I knew to snap to attention and salute a Medal of Honor winner--Roy Benevides. He returned my salute with his left hand--then, with his salute still raised, turned his head towards his hand, noticed it was the wrong hand, said something like "oops", and then returned my salute with the correct hand. His was the first MOH I ever saw; I think I've seen another, but I don't remember for sure. I remember the news when Benevides died.
I may be wrong on the details, but as I recall, Napolean McCallum of Navy (and later of the Raiders) either ran the opening kickoff in for a touchdown or took the first play from scrimmage in for a touchdown. The omen was correct, as Navy scored more points in the first few minutes than Army did all game. The final score was 42-13. However, we went 2-9 that season so we were used to losing. Pizza with the sponsors afterward helped a lot.
And then we flew back to Stewart on chartered ATA aircraft. Senator William Proxmire gave the game his Golden Fleece Award as a waste of taxpayer money. My sponsor's son showed up as a new cadet in '86, but resigned during plebe year. And my Beat Navy kazoo--sans rose sticker, which fell off years ago--is still in my cadet lockbox, which sits atop the safe in my bedroom closet.
Update, 12/1/07: Unfortunately, the results of today's game were somewhat less than desired.