Friday, November 30, 2007

The Army-Navy Game

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.

Beat 'em.

Update, 12/1/07: Unfortunately, the results of today's game were somewhat less than desired.


Matt Carden said...

from The Carden Chronicles

The Biggest Game of the Year

It is the biggest event of the year for the two colleges involved. Their entire year has been about the three hours today when the schools meet. For them, every other game has been practice. For the coaches and players, their previous record has not mattered, this game, is it. Even if the teams have lost every other game of the year, winning THIS game, makes it a winning season.

For years to come, the players will be asked the outcome of this game. Millions of fans around the world will watch this game. All other activity will stop or be delayed. The play by play will be broadcast to every spot on the globe, by video, by audio, by text; some by clear transmission and in other cases by broadcast so secure, no other nation on earth can break the code. The game will be followed at homes, in tents, trucks, on ships, in the air, in mountain and desert camps, and under the oceans.

This game will be played until the very last second. If one side is down by more than a touchdown with less than a minute to play, the stands will NOT start to empty. Anyone who has followed this game through the years knows that lead of this game can change at any moment, and has, in the past, been decided with mere seconds remaining. The players will give their all, and never give up hope, despite what the scoreboard reads.

Yet professional Football careers will likely not be in the future of any player. Unlike other games played today, their will be no thoughts of next years NFL draft or about an NFL signing bonus. This game is being played by...

Chanman said...

Recipient. Medal of Honor recipient, Darren. Tsk, tsk. You don't "win" the Medal of Honor, Son. ;)

I'm trying to remember what movie that last quote is from.

Phyllis S said...

Oh, Napolean McCallum. Such a crush I had on him.

Darren said...

I didn't mind him when he played for the Raiders!

Brook said...

HAHA somewhat less than desired!!!


and a little story when i went to the elks lodge for one of those dinners we always do where we serve then make money for sea cadets i had to give a speech about the application process to all the older elks guys (it was the big elks dinner of the year with ppl from all over at this place) and as soon as i was introduced as going usna i heard an outroar of GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

it was cool