Navy Sports

1950 Army-Navy—An Unforgettable Football Game
Tales From Army Navy - 1981-1985
U. S. Naval Academy 74th Brigade Boxing Championships
Team Named Desire
Navy Proud at U.S. Senate
Why Play Notre Dame? (Thomas, ND '45)
Salvaging the American Football Culture - 4 Quarters of Inspiration New!
Operation Goat Rope
Remembering the First Navy-Air Force Football Game
The Right Blend: Navy's Storied '63 Season
Why Play Notre Dame? (Spangenberg, '48)
Army-Navy Sea Stories: 1955 & 1957
Army-Navy Game - A Navy Sports "Sea Story"
'Send a Volley Cheer on High'...By Phone 

 

1950 Army-Navy—An Unforgettable Football Game

By Captain M.R. “By” Byington ’54, USN (Ret.)

THE 1950 ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL GAME WAS THE FIRST EXPERIENCED BY MY PLEBE CLASS, AND LIKEWISE PROBABLY THE MOST NOTEWORTHY BY MANY OTHER OBJECTIVE STANDARDS. IT PROVIDES A PERFECT BACKGROUND TO EXAMINE SEVERAL RELATED ISSUES INCLUDING ODDSMAKER RELIABILITY AND THE GAME’S ACTUAL RELEVANCE, BOTH TO THE RESPECTIVE ACADEMIES AND THEIR ALUMNI WORLDWIDE, AND WITH A BONUS MILITARY HISTORY LESSON FROM THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE GLOBE. IT WAS ALSO THE LAST ARMY-NAVY GAME NOT TELEVISED.

Mighty Army was riding a 27-game unbeaten streak (including two ties) extending from November 1947. They were ranked second nationally, much to the chagrin of veteran Coach Red Blaik, who asserted their claim to the top spot to any sportscaster within earshot. Meantime, Navy had not won the Army-Navy classic since 1943 (1948 was a tie) and had lost their 1949 meeting 38-0. Navy had since accumulated a lackluster 2-6 record during the 1950 season under first-year Coach Eddie Erdelatz. It is not surprising Army was favored by three touchdowns, but somehow the Navy team and Brigade of Midshipmen failed to get the word.
Despite the dismal oddsmaker’s forecast, the Navy team elected to show up anyway, as did the entire Brigade. It was a bitterly cold 2 December in Philadelphia before 102,000 spectators, including President and Mrs. Harry S. Truman, but our excitement countered the cold. As the first half ended Army had accumulated no points, one first down, three net yards of offense, five turnovers and the short end of a 14-0 score. Pandemonium reigned in the midshipmen’s section, and it almost seemed as if the teams had secretly swapped uniforms. But could Navy hang on?
The answer was yes, although Army did avert a shutout with a second half safety. Navy emerged victorious by 14-2 and serious students of the Army-Navy game agree this represents the most spectacular Navy upset in the series, either beforehand or in the 65 years since. Thanks in part to eight Army turnovers, Christmas had indeed arrived early for us, the plebes of ’54.
For the rest of the story, we must fast forward almost four decades and 1,000 miles south to Daytona Beach, FL, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I had been teaching there six years when a new history professor, retired Army Colonel Paul F. Braim, joined our faculty in 1987. While we were in different departments, we soon met and quickly became close friends. Late in his Army career he taught history for 13 years at the U.S. Military Academy, but at age 18 had earned a “battlefield commission” in Patton’s Third Army during 1944 combat in Germany. I’ve never met a stronger and more eloquent patriot than Braim.
Once during our casual conversation the subject of the 1950 Army-Navy game arose, and Braim immediately perked up. He explained that in late summer 1945, promptly after the end of World War II, he’d been demobilized into an Army Reserve status. Then shortly after the 25 June 1950 North Korean invasion of South Korea, he was recalled to active duty. By September he found himself in Korea serving as a platoon leader in an infantry company.
 Unlike Braim, his immediate senior, the company commander, was a West Point graduate. Braim described him as a “rear echelon commando” who frequently visited higher headquarters to “polish his political apples.” One such occasion occurred in late November or early December 1950, while Braim’s company was defensively positioned on the far north hills of North Korea.
Following the bold September amphibious landing at Inchon, far behind existing North Korean lines, General Douglas MacArthur’s Allied Forces had routed the enemy and rapidly driven them north to positions almost within sight of the Chinese border. Braim explained that his tactical radios were all receiving Chinese “chatter,” and their intelligence estimates were that a 300,000-man Chinese army was poised awaiting orders to charge south. Ominously, the war was on the eve of a new phase featuring dominant Chinese opposition. Around the world on game day, the headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer read “MacArthur Says China War is On: 16 Red Divisions Massing for Assault.”
In early December, the company commander (CC) returned to his command and began making rounds inspecting and exchanging information with his platoon leaders (PL). As Braim, the PL, recalled his conversation with his CC:

PL:  How’s it looking?

CC:  Bad! Really bad! Terrible!

PL:  You mean there’s over 300,000 out there?

CC:  What the heck are you talking about?

PL:  I’m talking about that Chinese army just over the hills. What are you talking about?

CC:  I’m talking about the game! We lost the damned football game to Navy!

That’s a true, albeit incredible example of how high the Army-Navy game’s outcome can rise on the ladder of human endeavor for those closely (perhaps too closely?) involved.

We are also reminded that football upsets result from overconfidence when least expected. Heads up, Navy!

 

Source: November-December 2015 Shipmate

 

Tales From Army Navy - 1981 - 1985

By Ashley Yetman '85

From August 2004 - May 2011 I taught Mechanical Engineering at Navy as a civilian which seemed to obscure the fact that I was a 1985 graduate, at least until the Friday before the Army Navy football game.  Consistent with 1985 Midshipman uniform policy, the Friday before the Army Navy game I wear my letter sweater. 

The sweater is always greeted with the perfunctory question, asked with an air of suspicion "Where did you get that sweater?" After assuring them that I earned it and did not find it in a thrift store, I was usually asked, "Ma'am, will you tell us your best Army Navy story?" As a three year Navy Cheerleader, I have quite a few stories, but Army Navy are among my best and most fun. Never one to miss the opportunity for a good sea story, I would oblige. Which is the best?  You decide!

Plebe year: Fall 1981 - Unlike today, Army Navy in the 1980's was played over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Upperclassmen were released after last class or military formation on Wednesday, but flying home for a long weekend was not allowed.  We had to stay in the general vicinity - meaning the Northeastern United States, converging on Philadelphia early Saturday morning.  For Plebes, an early morning muster at USNA followed by a ride in the rolling milk cartons aka USNA busses up to Philly.  Competing in an invitational diving meet my teammate, MIDN4/C Judy, and I were excused from the game.  Not wanting to miss our first Army Navy, we submitted a "Special Request" chit to allow my parents to transport us to the game.  My two memories of this game are: 1) it was overcast, windy and cold! I mean REALLY cold. It snowed. In an age pre-dating synthetic warm gear, mini-hand or boot warmers, the Brigade was permitted to wear ear-muffs, black or blue in color. I had those, but loaned them to my  2/C company mate, Karl Kornchuk, who could no longer feel his ears, and 2) we tied 3-3, one of only 7 in history.

3/C year: Fall of 1982 was my first year as a cheerleader.  The weather was cooperative, sunny and warm.  While standing on the sideline before march on, I was approached by a gentleman who loved the Naval Academy.  His hobby was metal working.  He loved Navy so much he had made a belt buckle with Bill the Goat on it.  He wanted to give it to a Midshipman for good luck.  He gave it to me. I still have it. It makes me smile.  I also met a nice older gentleman who was walking around the field.  He stopped to chat. Personable and easy to talk to, we chatted for about 15 minutes. He asked me my favorite football team.  "Navy, of course!" He asked me about pro teams.  I told him I only cheered for my Navy team.  Laughing, he told me that was a good thing.  He asked if I knew who he was.  I had no idea so said, "No." He laughed again, telling me he appreciated my honesty. Smiling, he said maybe he could persuade me to be an Eagles fan and asked me to follow him into the arena office space.  He seemed harmless, so I did.  We went to the Eagles office space where I met three huge Eagle's players; linemen by the size, really huge!  All I can remember is that I had to look way up to see faces; otherwise I was looking at their numbers.  The gentleman handed me a box and told me to open it later.  Walking back to the field, he told me it was a pleasure to talk with a Midshipman and wished us luck in the game. I still don't know who the gentleman was, but when I opened the box - it was a football signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.  My roommate from Pennsylvania, Allison Gross, was a huge Eagles fan.  I gave it to her. I still only cheer for my Navy team, although have a warm spot for the Eagles. We Beat Army! 24-7!

2/C year: Fall 1983 was special, the year the Brigade went to the Rose Bowl in California. Although, my best memory from that year started the Wednesday before, in Luce Hall navigation class. With me was my classmate and outstanding Navy running back, Eric Wallace.  Due to the long trip to California, the football team had to fly out earlier than the rest of the Brigade. In fact, Eric had to leave during this class.  As he left, I called out "Good Luck, Eric!" He called back, "Ashley, my first touchdown is yours!"  The rest is history! or as "The New York Times" reported:

"McCallum took that kickoff on his 5-yard line. Just as he was hit at his 11, he handed the ball to Eric Wallace, a play Coach Gary Tranquill of Navy said he decided on just before the kickoff. Wallace ran up the left sideline, cut away from the last Army defender and scored on a 95-yard play.

That was the longest kickoff return in Navy history and the first time in this series that an opening kickoff had been returned for a touchdown. The previous record was 85 yards by Bobby Jenkins against Georgia Tech in 1944."  (http://www.nytimes.com/1983/11/26/sports/navy-led-by-mccallum-defeats-army.html)

To this day my classmates Eric, Napoleon and I joke about "my touchdown."  Best of all Navy crushed Army 42-13!

1/C Year: Fall of 1984 - The year I started a brawl in the end zone. During the summer of 1984 part of the Cheerleading squad attended a camp. Also attending were several members of the West Point squad.  Both teams were unable to field a full squad, so we opted to combine to form an all military squad.  We performed throughout as a combined unit.  Fast forward to halftime of the game.  It was our turn to do the halftime honors where we cross over, introduce ourselves, and meet the competition.  In this case, it was catching up with old friends.  While chatting, I failed to notice that I had lagged behind. In the midst of the "enemy" I heard "let's pass her up." Time for me to scoot!  Around  the goal post I heard a fan trying to get my attention.  "Navy Cheerleader, NAVY Cheerleader, NAVY CHEERLEADER!"  I looked up.  He pointed and yelled "You better run!"  I looked over my shoulder. The Corps of Cadets was swarming out of the stands.  They were coming for me! Only about 30 feet away.  Somewhere in my brain I knew I was not going to make it back to the Navy side, but had to try. Turning to face the Navy stands I started to run.  There in front of me came a sea of Navy blue, rolling out over the stands, flowing toward the grey.  I am not sure exactly what happened next, except I found myself flat on my back with a 3/C West Pointer flat on top of me.  Nose 3 inches from mine, he very politely said, "Sorry ma'am, they were going to hurt you."  The grey ocean, met the Navy blue sea. With sounds of a brawl all around, I looked up to see a Navy Commander standing over my West Point protector and me, right hook swinging connecting with grey. When the fight died down, the ocean and sea ebbed back to their respective sides. Navy winning, although not without damage.  The Philo T. McGiffin had sustained significant damage; the USNA aeronautical helium balloon  torn to pieces.  Adding insult to injury, we lost.

Traditionally, the Superintendents have breakfast together Sunday morning. It was reported to me that relations between the Supes was extremely frosty that morning.  The Navy Superintendent let it be known that the Corps of Cadets had not been gentlemen.  Apparently, ADM Larson said, "....not only had the Cadets caused $35,000 worth of damage to official Navy property, but, they had assaulted a senior ranking Naval officer, which was inexcusable." (While Midshipmen are officers and gentlemen of the line by act of Congress, the Corps of Cadets have no such distinction, at least not in 1985.)
One might think that would be the end of it.  But it's not. In April of 1985, a month before graduation, a small manila envelope arrived in my mail box.  Inside, an informal note card emblazoned in gold with the West Point crest. The note said:

"Dear MIDN 1/C Yetman,
On behalf of the Corps of Cadets, please except my sincere apologies, for our un-gentlemanly like conduct and for assaulting a senior ranking Naval officer.  Best of luck as you graduate.
  Sincerely,
  Corps of Cadets Commander"

My best Army Navy? How does one pick?  Win, Lose or Draw, they are all good memories of Classmates, Shipmates and friends. For that alone, they are special.  It remains an honor and a privilege.  "Go Navy, 85! Beat Army - again!" 

 

U. S. Naval Academy 74th Brigade Boxing Championships

By Dr. Kenneth D. Dunn, Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

The Workup

I was lucky enough to have seen Doug Rau in action at a couple of boxing events earlier. Our classmate has a gift – no two ways about it. Somewhere, he contacted me to ask if I would be interested in helping to showcase the 74th Brigade Boxing Championships coming in February 2015. We would begin marketing the event at our 40th Reunion in October 2014. Well, all of that came to fruition on Friday, 27 February 2015 in Alumni Hall. It was excitement and to use a phrase from the Kentucky Derby, it was “lightning in a bottle!” for the Midshipmen in attendance, the many classmates who showed up and for all of the fight fans. This was something special!

Doug had recruited me and included the ubiquitous Morgan Ames to join and to sing the National Anthem. Our planning began in earnest after the New Year; we were bringing everybody out of the Dark Ages. We all agreed that we should have some of our own “’70’s Music” as our backdrop. You recall that back in Bancroft Hall, everybody was a maestro from Elton John to the Temptations and it all sounded good. My lovely wife, Connie, had pretty much mastered the art of downloading music on to her laptop (something I still don’t know how to do) and playing anything she wants to hear. Well, I thought it would be great if we could formulate a list of songs, give them to Connie so she could develop a specific song list for the Boxing Championships. I asked Morgan to give me 10 ‘rock’ songs from his memory, while I would submit 10 ‘Rand B’ songs from the ‘70s. My parameter was the songs needed to be upbeat; no slow, melodramatic numbers that would either make people cry or put them to sleep. I actually contracted my list out to classmates Charlie Robinson and Dennis Tate. Man, I want to tell you – we had some list! I narrowed it down and gave to Connie. Meanwhile, Morgan had done the same thing except instead of 10 songs, Morgan gave her 50 or so. Come on…Man! Well, Connie smoothed everything out, Morgan placed in the right sequence and we were ready to ‘rock and roll.’ All we had to do was to bring the laptop to Alumni Hall and we were transformed to 1974 – just like that!

Doug was tasked with pulling all of this together. He worked with the boxing team coaches, Jim McNally and Jim Searing, Classmate Rusty Yeiser from the Naval Academy Foundation to make sure the money was right. He also worked with John Yaeger, our Class President, to get the word out through our class organization. Finally, Doug worked his magic with the Naval Academy Athletic Association to receive their blessing. While Morgan was taking voice lessons, I was working with medals and a wife with a laptop, Doug was conducting the critical face – to – face introductions and securing all of the administration and logistics. We can never thank Doug enough for his vision and hard work.

While the Midshipman bouts were the main attraction, our focus was on the six Class of 1974 Brigade Champions who were invited to return to receive well-deserved recognition and commemorative medals. They were Dr. Michael C. Bachmann, Mr. Bruce Cavey, Dr. Martin K. DuBois, PhD, Mr. Victor Gazzolo, Mr. John A. McGraw II, and Mr. Frank M. Semple. Three champions were in the same company at USNA: McGraw, Bachmann and Dubois.  As a testament to Doug Rau’s leadership on this, all six returned!

Some career highlights on each Brigade Champion:

Mike Bachmann – Retired Rear Admiral, USN, Navy Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer, headed SPAWAR at retirement in 2010. Mike learned from legendary Coach Emerson Smith and classmate Mugs McGraw, who was in the same company. Acknowledges mentoring, practice, individual sports versus team sports – there is a difference. Mike is now the Vice President for C4I Strategic Programs for AECOM, a Fortune 500 company.

Bruce Cavey – Retired Captain, USN, submariner, commanded USS Daniel Boone, 1974 Spike Webb winner with 17-1 record; learned most from losing fight Youngster year and learning from his mistakes that carried him through successful careers in the Navy and as a federal civilian executive. “Prayed up, prepped up in pursuit of victory.” 

Martin DuBois – Left USNA after Youngster year, earned PhD in geology after leaving, he is an acknowledged expert in the field of petroleum reservoir systems. Marty learned from Coach Smith and Mugs McGraw tenacity, perseverance, and over-preparation applied to long and distinguished career in petroleum geology. 

Vic Gazzolo – Retired Commander, USN, naval aviator, “Rocky” won his championship during his First Class Year. Vic credits Coach Smith’s continual challenges during the Boxing program to have the will and perseverance to succeed, particularly in the cockpits of aircraft. Vic flies for Southwest Airlines. 
John McGraw – Navy Special Warfare, SEAL, Mugs was a celebrated fighter with Brigade championships in 1971, 1972, and 1973, was named the Spike Webb recipient in 1971 and 72. Mugs credits his boxing training with helping him through any number of operational and training crises when, if he had lost his focus in tough situations, he would not have survived. Mugs mentored many fighters with a regimen of physical and mental toughness, skills routinely required as a SEAL team leader. Mugs is an executive at Navy Special Warfare Command.

Frank Semple – Former submariner, USN, USS Gurnard, USNA company officer and Boxing Officer Rep in 1980. 150’s football player, trained in boxing to stay in shape and keep weight down. Frank learned from Coach Smith focus, hard work, getter tougher, perseverance and to appreciate how lucky he was to be at USNA. Now has a career in oil and gas, Frank is President/CEO of Market West Oil and Gas, Denver, CO.

74th Brigade Championships

As you walked into Alumni Hall, you were immediately greeted by Connie’s soundtrack which was automatically streaming music in the background. At 1730, we had a reception in the Bo Coppage Room, with light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. I believe we had 40 or so classmates and wives. I gave some introductory remarks and turned the microphone over to Doug Rau, who in turn, gave the microphone to Coach Jim Searing ‘71. Each of us wanted our guests to know that this was a fund raising event for the USNA Boxing program. At 1900 sharp we proceeded to the open arena where our class was seated in reserved section X. These were great seats among many familiar faces.

Soon, Dou Rau’s distinctive ‘ring leader’ voice rang out, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the U. S. Naval Academy and the 74th Brigade Boxing Championships!” Almost immediately we heard the music “Rocky” in the background. It was spectacular! Doug lined up all of the boxers in the ring and moved the program along. After those introductions, Doug introduced Morgan Ames to sing the National Anthem.  I don’t know about you, but can you imagine how nervous Morgan must have been? If he was, he did not show it! I thought Morgan sang a perfect rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” It was amazing.

The fighting was no less exciting as Doug guided us through twelve bouts, to include three women Midshipman contests. Midshipman First Class Briscoe became only the 19th boxer in the 74 year history of the championships to win four years in a row. USNA added a brief intermission from the USNA Ethics Department that focused on moral and physical courage. After the first round of each fight, Midshipman 1/c Shawn Allen treated us to a new song from Connie’s list: “Superfly,” Whole Lotta Love,” “Brickhouse,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” etc. all in perfect sequence, thanks to a joint effort by Connie, Morgan and Midshipman Allen. 

At the conclusion of each bout and the announcement of each winner, one of our 1974 Brigade Champions (Bachmann, Semple, Gazzolo, DuBois, McGraw and Cavey) draped the medals around the necks of each champion and finalist. The medals were gifts from our class, all the way from Triangle, Virginia. The inscription on the back reads:

74th USNA
BRIGADE BOXING
CHAMPIONSHIPS
N* CHAMPION
CLASS OF 1974
BEAT ARMY!

Each 1974 Brigade Champion was presented a medal inside the ring by Coaches Jim McNally and Jim Searing. See the attached photo, says it all.
At the conclusion of a very short three hours, photos were taken, the music continued, congratulations all around. Doug had to take Mr. Harman Camp, a former boxer, out to his hotel, so we did not get the interview I wanted. However, it was an evening many of us will never forget. Thanks to the returning Brigade Champs, Doug Rau, Morgan Ames, Rusty Yeiser, John Yaeger, Charlie Robinson, Dennis Tate, Midshipman Shawn Allen, my wife, Connie and to all who attended and enjoyed a great night of boxing and camaraderie. I also want to thank All American Awards, Triangle, VA for the medal design and completion in record time.

I don’t know exactly how much money we raised for Navy Boxing, but I know it was certainly worth the effort. For next year, we will help Kerwin Miller and the Class of 1975 to replicate and maybe surpass our effort.  As always: Beat Army!

 

Team Named Desire

By Jack Clary

The famed 1954 Navy football team—the Team Named Desire—celebrated its 60th anniversary season this year.  Its place in the annals of the Naval Academy’s football history remains unchallenged as one of the top five memorable teams to wear Navy blue & gold.

The team, coached by Eddie Erdelatz and led by the inimitable quarterback George Welsh, had a 7-2 record, including a memorable 27-20 upset victory over Army, in one of that historic rivalry’s greatest games.

But scores and statistics alone do not tell the complete story of what made that team so special.

It started with Erdelatz, who had once an assistant coach at Navy in 1945-47 and had helped to develop two of their greatest ends, Dick Duden and Leon Bramlett.  He left Navy and became an assistant coach for two years of the San Francisco 49ers of the All-America Football Conference.  That league folded after the 1949 season but the Niners were invited to join the NFL.
 
Before Erdelatz could decide his coaching status, or keeping his day job as proprietor of Joe’s Steam Bar in San Francisco, the Naval Academy offered him its head coaching job, succeeding George Sauer who had left to become head coach at Baylor University.  Erdelatz later said his that time as an assistant coach at the Academy was such a positive experience that he didn’t hesitate to accept the job.

Success for the talent-challenged midshipman was fleeting at first.  They won just three games in 1950, but one was a colossal 14-2 upset of Army, the first loss suffered by any Cadet team since the 1947 season. 

Erdelatz and Navy stunned everyone with a 6-2-1 record in 1952, Navy’s first winning season since the 1945 team’s 7-1-1 mark had brought it to the brink of a national championship.

There followed a winning season (4-3-2) in 1953, but that was soured by a loss to Army.  Before the 1954 season, Erdelatz revamped his team and its ultimate success didn’t become apparent until the Mids had travelled 3000 miles across the country to California and stunned a very good Stanford team, quarterbacked by future Hall of Famer John Brodie, 25-0.

“There was indeed something very special about its unique chemistry, an absolutely necessary quality that enables a team of players to rise above its capability and deliver success on nearly every weekend,” said Phil Monahan, the captain of that team and one of its starting running backs,  in discussing its success a few years ago.
 
Monahan himself became a centerpiece of that “unique chemistry” because leg injuries had limited his playing time to 30 minutes for the entire season.  He had undergone knee surgery in the spring, costing him precious practice time; and then he injured his other knee during pre-season drills.  All of this was compounded by a continuing spate of pulled leg muscles that limited his playing time to three minutes in a 42-7 victory against Dartmouth in the season’s second game, 11 very valuable minutes in the big upset win against Stanford and 16 minutes in a 52-6 win against Penn.

His playing season ended after he re-injured his knee during preparations for the game against Pitt.

In a glowing tribute to Monahan after the season had ended, Erdelatz declared: “He has given us just 30 minutes of playing time but he has given us 100 years of leadership.”

Those leadership skills became very apparent during his 35 years in the Marine Corps where he achieved flag rank as a major general.  In his post-military life, football still was in his blood, so he joined the coaching staff of his former teammate George Welsh, then the head coach at the University of Virginia, for several years; and then did likewise with former Navy lineman Tom O’Brien when he became head coach for a decade at Boston College.

Welsh, a junior in 1954, was the engine who made the Team Named Desire function on the field in the way he directed Erdelatz’ split-T offense.  He was a veritable magician with his nifty ball handling skills but also became one of the team’s best ball carriers on his keeper plays with a four-yard average per carry (213 yards in 52 attempts). 

He was also a very effective passer during an era when the offensive emphasis was on running the ball.  In 1954, he completed 39 of 81 pass attempts for 527 yards and seven touchdowns.

The team was well-fortified with other offensive weapons, beginning with All-America end Ron Beagle, who also won the Maxwell Trophy as the nation’s outstanding collegiate player.  His numbers are modest (19 receptions, 243 yards and three touchdowns) by current standards, but ends at that time played both ways.  Beagle was a relentless defensive player and even blocked a punt that resulted in a touchdown against Stanford.

“Beagle can do everything and do it well.  He’s a great end,” Erdelatz said in summing up his season’s play.

Bob Craig, Dick Guest and Joe Gattuso complemented Welsh’s running offense.  Craig was the Mids top speed guy who averaged over six yards a carry that season, and was a valuable defensive player who grabbed four interceptions.
 
Guest’s defensive play and his blocking ability pushed him into a starter’s job after the season began, to which he also added a part-time punter’s role.

Gattuso, whose son Joe Jr., later became a star running back for the Mids, was Navy’s leading rusher with 525 yards, averaged over seven yards a carry, was the team’s leading scorer with 43 points and was a ferocious linebacker.  He also shared the punting job with Guest.

The “desire” factor played right into the resiliency of this team, particularly when Erdelatz had to make key personnel moves.  Welsh couldn’t play against Stanford because of an injured rib so into the breach stepped his backup, Dick Echard.  He put on a flawless performance in directing Navy to its astounding 25-0 victory.

Monahan’s injury left a gaping hole at running back so Erdelatz moved John Weaver, then a third-string quarterback and one of the team’s best defensive backs, to fill the void.  Three games later he was the starting left halfback and averaged four yards a carry that season.

Earle Smith also fit the mold.  He began the season as a quarterback but was switched to right end just before the season began and soon won the starting job where he caught 13 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns.

It was the same story along the offensive line.  Wilson Whitmire, a sophomore who was the third string center when the season began, was forced into action after Bob Davis and Dick Dutnell were injured in the same game.  Once again, “desire” became an overriding factor because Whitmire played so well that he kept the job and became one of Navy’s greatest centers.

John Hopkins was a reserve end in 1953 but was switched to left tackle before the 1954 season began.  He found it was a natural fit for his abilities and became one of Navy’s greatest linemen.

Jim Royer, who along with Beagle were the only players to start every game in 1954, not only moved up from the junior varsity team but switched positions from guard to right tackle. 

“There was a feeling within the team that there were no obstacles that we couldn’t overcome,” Monahan told me a few years ago.  “It was ‘Just go out and do your job, don’t make any mistakes and we’ll be okay.’”

Erdelatz was never introspective about what drove that team’s success but he so admired its drive to succeed that he often went out of his way to praise its “desire,” which had become a code word of sorts for the unique team chemistry that had bound it together.

That’s what gave birth to “The Team Named Desire” tag following the 25-0 victory over Stanford.  To which Erdelatz added:

“This team has more will to win than any of the five squads I have coached at the Academy.”

When the team returned to the Naval Academy the following evening, and rode their buses into a dark and deserted Tecumseh Court, they were greeted by blinding flood lights and all 3000 members of the Brigade, accompanied by brass band.  Every player was hoisted onto shoulders and carried from the buses.
For the rest of that season, Navy was known as the Team Named Desire, and win or lose, that was its hallmark as it won six of eight games before playing arch-rival Army.  It was also a powerful team that averaged more than 33 points a game. 

Their team mindset built around total effort certainly bulwarked its spirit in shrugging of its two heartbreaking losses.  The week after upsetting Stanford, the Mids were victims of a cruel twist of fate in a 21-19 loss to Pitt.  The Panthers that day were coached by Naval Academy icon Tom Hamilton who stepped away from his athletic director’s chair to replace head coach Red Dawson after he was hospitalized by illness.

George Welsh reclaimed the starting QB job late in the Pitt game, and led the team for the rest of the season.  He engineered a mighty 52-6 win against Penn but Navy, its running game stymied by a sloppy playing field in Baltimore, allowed Notre Dame to dominate the first half and score its only TD in a 6-0 victory.  Navy dominated the second half and missed getting a tie or even a win when Bob Craig fumbled and lost the ball at the goal line in the third quarter.

Navy had a 6-2 record going into the Army game and 102,000 jammed Philadelphia’s old Municipal Stadium, anticipating watching a game-for-the-ages between two teams which were nationally ranked for the first time in ten years.  They were not disappointed.

The Mids turned an early fumble recovery into its first touchdown and a 7-0 lead on Welsh’s fourth down, six-yard screen pass to Bob Craig.  Army immediately shocked the Mids, which had that nation’s No. 2 ranked defense, with a 16-play scoring drive but missed the extra point.

Welsh, always a crafty and cunning signal-called, then worked some of his magic after the teams changed goals to start the second quarter.  Army’s coach Earl Blaik always inserted his second team to start the second quarter and Welsh, figuring those new players would be thinking only about peeling back and covering an expected punt, instead called for a sweep.  John Weaver zoomed 23 yards around end for a first down, and a couple of plays later Welsh passed to Earle

Smith for a touchdown and a 14-6 Navy lead.

Next came a series of plays that left the huge crowd breathless because of their impact. 

Navy’s Dick Guest fumbled a punt snap and twice lost the ball before Army’ Don Holleder recovered at Navy’s three-yard line.  Pat Uebel scored on the next play.  Then, on Navy first splay after the extra point, Uebel intercepted one of Welsh’s passes, setting up Pete Vann’s 42-yard TD pass to Bob Kyasky, and Army suddenly led 20-14.

Then came the game’s critical play.  Vann, without any order from Blaik, told kicker Ralph Chesnauskas to try an onsides kick but failed to inform the other members of Army’s kicking team.  Therefore, the Cadets did not use their special coverage assignments and Navy easily recovered the ball at its 47-yard line.  Weaver then ran for 27-yards and caught a 27-yard pass from Welsh before and the Navy QB slid into the end zone for a 21-20 lead.

Navy added a touchdown in the third quarter with a ten-play, 59-yard drive that ended with Welsh’s second TD pass to Smith, for a 27-20 lead.  Army had one gallant try remaining late in the game, moving to Navy’s eight-yard line before Gattuso roared in on a fourth down blitz and hit Vann’s arm as he was throwing the ball, causing it to fall harmlessly to the ground.

The game was worthy of its hype.  Erdelatz, as was his custom following a Navy victory that season, said “desire” had won for his team.  And who could argue with that conclusion because Beagle, guard Glen Benzi, Weaver and Craig played the entire game.  The Mids then went on to work its magic once more, upsetting Mississippi 20-0 in the Sugar Bowl.

And “The Team Named Desire” has been enshrined for all time as one of the most memorable in Navy’s storied football history.

(Jack Clary is a noted sports journalist and award-winning author of more than 60 books.  He has written three histories on Navy football and the Army-Navy game and for over a quarter century wrote the cover story for the annual Army-Navy game program.  Prior to his prolific free lance writing career, Clary was a sports writer and columnist for The Associated Press, and newspapers in New York and Boston.  He has written and produced television documentaries and produced more than 200 articles for magazines such as TV Guide and The Saturday Evening Post.  Clary is a graduate of Fordham University where he is a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame; and of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism where he held the Grantland Rice Fellowship.) 

Navy Proud at U.S. Senate

By Capt. Gordon Peterson '68, USN (Ret.)

With the Army-Navy football game scheduled Saturday, I decided to wear my Naval Academy "N" sweater to today's Senate Army Caucus breakfast in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room in the Senate Russell Office Building.

The spacious Caucus Room, scene of major Senate hearings dating to the loss of the Titanic a century ago, was filled with Army officers and senior enlisted NCOs resplendent in their "Army blue" dress uniforms. Clearly, Army was not prepared for this surprise attack! I was seated at a table in the center of the room next to Army Chief of Staff Gen Ray Odierno USMA '76 (clearly an interior lineman, as was his vice chief, Gen Austin, USMA '75).

Sen Jim Inhofe, cochair of the Caucus, called on me to stand and be recognized wearing my N-sweater. Where was the Academy's pep band when I needed them? Although more than 100 soldiers opposed me, I was not outnumbered. I told the Army officers at my table (for what I thought was a "Beat Army pep rally") that the mule sausages were tough and tasteless!

I'm pictured here (on the right) after the breakfast with Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Ray Odierno, West Point '76.

Later today, I had the occasion to stop by the Navy's Office of Senate Liaison. Three impressive lieutenants were proudly wearing their N letters--LT Mike Mullee ('08 sailing), LT Kari Szewczyk ('04 off-shore sailing), and LT Cameron Lindsay ('07 track & field).

I counted five "N-stars" on LT Lindsay's sweater! We walked up a deck in the Russell Senate Office Building to the office of my boss, Senator Jim Webb '68 for a group photo. The "senior senator from Virginia" happened to pass by at the time and shook hands with each lieutenant. In the event you don't recognize me, I'm shown third from left ... N-star, track! I must assume this is one of the more unusual displays of USNA "Beat Army" spirit! Go Navy, Beat Army!

 

Why Play Notre Dame?

By Captain Robert E. Thomas, USN (Ret.)

Preface: In the December issue of the "Shipmate" on page 13, the question was asked "Why play Notre Dame?" Please permit me to introduce myself and include an email that relates to the subject. I graduated as Ensign in the NROTC unit at Notre Dame in 1945, and served on active duty in the Navy for 27 years (mostly in the submarine service) and retired as a Captain. As a young Lieutenant Commander, I taught Navigation at Luce Hall at the Naval Academy 1958-60. I am one of the few Associate Members of the USNA Alumni Association and always look forward to receiving my copy of "Shipmate".

Before the most recent Notre Dame-Navy game, I sent the below Email to many of my Navy and Notre Dame friends. I think the message and the attached picture explains a lot about the relationship between Notre Dame and the Navy. If it had not been for the Navy during World War II, there might not be a University of Notre Dame today.

Robert E. Thomas, Captain, USN (Retired)
Past President of Notre Dame Alumni Class of 1945
Associate Member of Naval Academy Alumni Association

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: NOTRE DAME VS NAVY
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2006 06:23:18 -0700
From: Bob Thomas

This Saturday (October 28), the football teams of the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame and the Midshipmen of the U. S. Naval Academy will meet in Baltimore to play their 80th game against each other.. The game will be aired on CBS starting at Noon (EDT). This series started in 1927 and has been played every year without interruption. This is the longest consecutive series in college football.

Of the past 79 games, Notre Dame has won 69, Navy has won 9 and there has been one tie. Notre Dame has won the last 42 games. Why does this lop-sided series continue? The attached picture gives some insight into the answer. The picture was taken in April 1944. The first group of six rows is the Midshipman School (approx 1200). The second group of one row on the sidewalk is the NROTC unit (approx. 120). The third group of two rows (on the grass between the sidewalks) is the Marine V-12 unit (approx. 200). The fourth group (on the grass in the rear) is the Navy V-12 unit (approx. 700). In the background is the Knute Rockne Memorial building (built about 1938). These approximately 2200 men in the picture constituted about 80% of the "students" on campus.

The Navy and Notre Dame institutions have always had a deep respect for each other. At the conclusion of the 2005 game (played at Notre Dame, and won by Notre Dame 42-21), the entire Notre Dame football team and their coaches assembled in front of the Naval Academy contingent and stood at attention with their helmets over their hearts while the Naval Academy Midshipmen sang their alma mater ("Navy Blue & Gold"). This series is very special!

Since I graduated at Notre Dame, spent a long career in the Navy, and taught at the Naval Academy, I always watch this game with great mixed emotions.

GO NAVY !! GO IRISH !!

 

Salvaging the American Football Culture - 4 Quarters of Inspiration

By Captain A.M. Boyle, USMC

I'm a football fan. I love that it's America's game and unique to our culture. Eleven men on each team battle with strength, and agility to advance their own position while stopping their opponent. Football requires strategy, physical effort and teamwork. Like many sports, it offers valuable life lessons. To succeed, players must be disciplined and work together. Being part of a team can teach selflessness and the need to sacrifice for the good of others. If you miss your blocking assignment, one of your teammates suffers, in fact the whole team suffers. The vitality and force of the game teaches athletes something that many other sports do not. Every play someone is getting hit. Players learn to take hit, and they learn to give a hit. They learn that they are not made of glass and they realize that all important reality- when you get knocked down, you’ve got to get back up again. Football has been so wildly popular in this nation because it inherently reflects values that Americans hold dear.

What has happened to our beloved American game?

This fall, we've been bombarded by hideous and reprehensible behavior by coaches and players at both the collegiate and professional level. As a nation, we learned of the unthinkable evil propagated by the rogue acts of a former coach. We were appalled by the cowardly complicity of those involved with the program. On Thanksgiving Day, many watched as an NFL player intentionally kicked his opponent who lay on the ground. Later, in the press conference, the offender had the audacity to defend his acts. Finally, this week, the NFL announced that a number of players with various teams in the league had failed drug tests during a lock-out related grace period negotiated between the NFL and the players’ union. Amazingly, a majority of the players'; cases are being dismissed due to it being a “first time offense”. Essentially, the NFL knew that when the lock-out suddenly ended that many players would fail drug tests. So, they disregarded the first failed tests. Now, only a few three time offenders will be out for the season with no pay, a whopping three weeks, for certain teams not going to the playoffs.

In our love for the game, have we elevated those who coach and play to a level that they do not deserve? I am disgusted when I list just a few of the scandalous acts: the defense of innocent young children took a second string spot to the reputation of a program, kicking someone when they are down and defending it, multiple violations of the law and league standards through drug use- none of these are acceptable! This does not represent the game we love, that greatness of America and the values we defend, here at home and around the world.

As an officer in the United States Marine Corps, I am honored to serve with young men and women who train like the finest athletes. Like football players, they must learn to work as a team pushing themselves to the limit and sacrificing for a good greater than themselves. Like football players they must learn to take a hit and to give hit, and in training if they do not get up again when knocked down, it may cost them or those on their left and right their lives in combat. The differences between the professional athletes we glorify and our American military are extreme. They don’t share an income bracket. Many American servicemen earn in one year what some professional football players earn in one game. They don’t share fame. Nobody is wearing one of our soldiers’ names across his back Sunday when he sits down to watch the game. And thank God, they don’t share a punitive system. The American serviceman or woman is held to the highest expectation. He/she knows that rules and regulations govern their actions and those rules don’t oscillate depending on who’s in charge. Punishment is real and effective.

I understand the NFL is not the U.S. Military. But do we really want to esteem men who are held to the most minimal of standards? In the Marine Corps, we don’t tolerate drug abuse. Offenders are processed out with other than honorable discharges. The expectations are known, and the standards are enforced.

This Saturday, there is one particular football game I am eager to watch. Competing are two teams who understand their role as athletes, but more importantly, they embrace their role as leaders in our country’s military – on and off the field. I hope the nation recognizes this game! These two teams can help salvage our American football culture that has become so tarnished.
The Army/Navy game between The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md is one of the most inspiring classic rivalries in sports. If you’re looking for leaders from a football program, than look no further. They are on both sides of the field on Saturday. The lessons these players learn on the field is parallel to what they do off the field, and the life that awaits them upon graduation as commissioned officers in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps. Brian Stann is one of the many alum of this game who attended the Naval Academy, and was the team captain and middle linebacker. He graduated and served in the Marine Corps harnessing the discipline and leadership he developed with his teammates and translating that into courage and decisiveness for his Marines. These noble traits were repeatedly tested against the enemy in Iraq and under the most austere conditions. His actions saved American lives and he was awarded the nation’s third highest medal for combat valor, the Silver Star. Stann's story is just one of a thousand that have played out throughout the length of the storied rivalry
This weekend’s gridiron match-up between these storied programs was once a game that determined our national college football champion. In the 1940’s West Point won three straight national titles. Furthermore, athletes from both schools received the coveted Heisman Trophy going to multiple different players in the nineteen forties, fifties, and sixties. This year the schools are having marginal seasons compared to years past. But the Cadets of West Point and Midshipmen of Annapolis did not sign up to play at these institutions for football fame. Many of these scholar athletes could’ve played in other stadiums where their status as a football player would’ve potentially elevated them above the normal rules and regulations of the university. The service academies are unique from most other colleges, and yet they are similar to each other. The academies demand that students give their very best: morally, mentally, and physically. As an undergraduate of the military service, each step of a player’s path is designed to develop them as professional officers in the United States Military. Football is secondary to this focus of training leaders with the highest ideals of duty, honor, and loyalty. Unlike other Division I programs, their responsibility is toward an Honor Code encompassing the entire student body. There are no exceptions. The entire four year experience trains our nation’s young men and women for leadership responsibilities awaiting them as officers in the the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps.

The 112th match-up of these two programs has been documented this year by SHOWTIME Sports and CBS Sports who joined forces to capture the dedication of the players, their unique classroom experiences, and rigorous military training that will collectively prepare them for their lives in the armed service. The documentary, A Game of Honor, will culminate with this Saturday’s contest and ultimately air December 21st highlighting their experiences on the field, in the classroom, and in various military training environments.

Let us direct our attention and love for the game to the two teams that play for the reputations of their school’s program, and for their teammates on the left and right. They play for their brothers and sisters serving in uniform. They even play for the man who lines up across them at the scrimmage line. It’s a brotherhood. Each player knows that one day it could be a graduate of the other service academy who provides fire support to fight through an ambush, a close air strike that routes the enemy, or a life saving “medevac” that brings a wounded warrior home. These athletes are true leaders and aspiring to authentic heroism. As a nation, we can choose to highlight true heroes in American football and through this game perhaps develop the future youth of our nation into tomorrow’s leaders. Children and adults can learn valuable lessons from these inspiring teams. Their players are role models. They play for those who have gone before, those who shall follow, and those who are no longer with us.

The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy or the United States Marine Corps.

 

Operation Goat Rope

By Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward ’79, USN

For military operations to be successful there needs to be careful planning and flawless execution. On the eve of this year’s Army-Navy game, a team of four Sailors and one Airman executed their mission flawlessly: Operation Goat Rope.

The task was to deliver a Navy goat to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, the morning of the Army-Navy football game during his morning meeting while he was talking to all the regional commanders in Afghanistan—the preponderance being Army—via video teleconference. This mission would require precise timing and navigating through several potential landmines to achieve success.

The operation started in the early morning hours of Dec. 11, when the team departed Camp Phoenix to drive to ISAF headquarters with Yeoman 2nd Class (SW) Jeffrey Warner behind the wheel. Lt. Cmdr. Matthew McNally (Citadel class of 2000) previously coordinated with one of our local national interpreters to secure the goat. As day was breaking on Kabul, the team anxiously awaited a phone call saying the goat had arrived.

The phone call came a few minutes later. The team drove to the rendezvous point to join up with the interpreter. Moments later, an Afghan National Army truck pulled up with the goat in the back. After some wrangling, the goat was offloaded and transferred to U.S. custody.

After loading the goat into the back of an SUV, the team then navigated through several layers of security to arrive at the ISAF compound. When they arrived, Lt. Jesse Adams (University of Miami law school), a staff judge advocate officer and our “eyes at ISAF,” and Lt. Cmdr. Eric Van Dyke (Texas A&M) offloaded the goat to a holding area before the meeting.

The team had arrived early, so they had to cordon off the goat from ISAF headquarters. In the process, the goat had a few accidents, which required some dutiful clean up. The team remained in constant contact with several supporting members, who kept them up to date on when to head into the meeting.

While cordoned off, the goat attracted a lot of attention. Dozens of people learned of the plan and wanted their picture taken with the soon-to-be star. Every Sailor who saw the goat knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

The call finally came to head to the meeting. The team proudly marched the goat through the ISAF compound, but as they were about to enter the building, the goat stopped cooperating. It took a few nudges and Adams finally carrying the goat up the stairs to get him outside the conference room.

Along the way, the team ran into Rear Adm. Martha Herb, Chief Secretariat, Military Technical Agreement Joint Coordinating Body for ISAF. Although working for General Petraeus, Admiral Herb quickly joined her Navy brothers for the operation.

As the team anxiously awaited, Admiral Herb poked her head into the standup and at precisely the right moment, waived the team in for the presentation.

The reception was one for the ages. McNally led the goat in and a photographer, Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Stump, captured the moment as the entire room erupted in laughter. General Petraeus acknowledged the team with, “that’s great, guys,” as U.S. and coalition leaders from around Afghanistan watched.

After the laughter died down, General Petraeus gamely returned to his meeting as the team and the goat departed triumphantly. There were several more rounds of photos as Sailors now went in search of their chance to capture history. The team brought the goat back to Camp Phoenix, where he was kept peacefully until his return trip home.

As a historical footnote, General Petraeus has experience in handling Navy goats. As illustrated in the enclosed picture, then-Cadet Petraeus was part of an Army team in 1973 who successfully “liberated” the Navy goat, although it didn’t help much since Navy won 51-0 that year. Thirty-seven years later, the rivalry came full circle with now-General Petraeus receiving the goat back.

As everyone now knows, Navy beat Army Dec. 11 by a final score of 31-17, extending the Midshipmen’s winning streak to nine over the Cadets in the 111th meeting between the teams. While the game was in Philadelphia, the rivalry—and a carefully and flawlessly executed goat delivery operation—extended 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.


PHOTO 1: Operation Goat Rope team members (clockwise, from front left) Lt. Cmdr. Eric Van Dyke, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew McNally, Lt. Jesse Adams and Yeoman 2nd Class (SW) Jeffrey Warner march the goat through ISAF headquarters Dec. 11 on way to deliver a Navy mascot to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. (Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump)


PHOTO 2: U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander, receives a goat adorned with a Navy flag during his morning meeting Dec. 11, 2010. U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, USNA class of ’79 and Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 commander, dispatched a team of four Sailors to give the general the goat, symbolic of the U.S. Naval Academy mascot, before the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. (Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump)


PHOTO 3: Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, USNA class of ’79, (middle) poses with the goat and Operation Goat Rope members (from left) Yeoman 2nd Class (SW) Jeffrey Warner, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew McNally, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Van Dyke, and Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Stump. Lt. Jesse Adams, not pictured, was also involved in the operation. (Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. George Cloutier)


PHOTO 4: Then-Cadet David H. Petraeus poses with a “Beat Navy” sheep during his West Point days. (Courtesy Army Gen. David H. Petraeus)

 

Remembering the First Navy-Air Force Football Game

by Mike Hoernemann ‘61

My class of 1961 included a group of clever and creative characters who were very good at staging innovative and humorous stunts for various events, including, in particularly, football games. They frequently specialized in having stunts that initially seemed to be in support of Navy’s opponents. This would get the other team’s stands cheering, while the Navy side was silent. Then, in an instant, the stunt would involve a reversal that favored Navy; silencing and embarrassing the cheering opponents, and energizing the Navy supporters with cheers and laughing jeers. The groups most memorable accomplishments had to be the first football game between Navy and Air Force.

The Air Force Academy graduated its first class in 1959. When the AF Academy was established, there was a big effort to emulate the years of tradition of Annapolis and West Point, while still establishing themselves as the premier space age service in marked contrast to the much older Navy and Army. This attitude was even reflected in sports, where Air Force had adopted a sleek fighting falcon as a mascot.

Air Force had first played, and tied, Army in the fall of 1959. The first meeting with Navy was scheduled to occur in Baltimore in 1960. Around half of the Wing of cadets was flown back for the big game. Air Force was not a big draw on the East Coast and there was a lot of hype in the papers in an effort to sell tickets to the general public. One of the big items that was much ballyhooed in advance, was a planned halftime demonstration of the trained AF mascots. The falcons were trained to fly loose at stadiums and make diving attacks at a lure being whirled around on a tether by a cadet handler.

During the pregame activities, it was traditional to introduce school mascots, often with elaborate props and hoop-la. A cable had been stretched from the top of the scoreboard at one end of the field, downward and over the heads of the midshipman. At the end of the cable, on top of the scoreboard, there was a beautiful cardboard and paper crepe replica of a Falcon with wings spread out to about 8 or so feet. It was very professional looking. At an appropriate time, the stadium announcer indicated to the crowd that the Air Force mascot was the fighting falcon as represented by the large model on the scoreboard. With the Air Force partisans wildly cheering the model started to move down the cable in a swoop towards the mids. About 50 feet before the model reached the mids, the Navy touchdown cannon went off, and the model bird blew up and was totally disintegrated. The wildly cheering Air Force fans were instantly silenced and the Navy crowd went wild.

The next step was to be the entrance of the Navy goat. A rickety, patched up float of an Air Force fighter was towed onto the field. It was obvious to everyone that the fighter would fall apart and the goat and his handlers would emerge. Before this could occur, a dozen or so AF cadets, including their cheerleaders, ran onto the field with smoke bombs on spikes and ignited them and set them in the ground around the float, completely obliterating any sight of the goat. However, an equal number of mids immediately ran onto the field, grabbed the smoke bombs by their spikes, ran over to the stands and tossed them up into the cadet wing. Smoke flew all around and many a sky blue uniform was suitably tarnished. But the fun had only begun.

As the smoke cleared, the pregame activities continued with a spirited march-on by the Brigade Drum and Bugles Corps. They did their thing, marching up and down the field playing all the traditional Navy numbers. Of course the Navy supporters cheered them on, while the Air Force side was silent. But then, as the Navy musicians left the field, the announcer broadcast that, “Now, representing the Air Force, we have the University of Virginia Air Force ROTC marching band.” A band of about 24 musicians, dressed in khaki uniforms, marched smartly onto the field from the sidelines. As the surprised Air Force crowd cheered, and Navy was now silent, the band went to the center of the field and started to execute a right turn to go down the field. Suddenly two band members at the back turned left. They started to run back and return, but one of them lost his pants, (exposing bright red shorts). At the same time, two marchers collided and dropped their instruments. Several more did countermarches and collided. And in a space of less that 10 seconds the band went from organized military unit to the total chaos of a clown troupe , breaking apart and running off the field in all directions. Of course, the whole thing was a Navy stunt. No one had time to realize that there was no such thing as an UV AFROTC marching band and it was just a bunch of mids. It was a great stunt, and as planned, left the Brigade laughing out loud, and the AF cadets fuming and looking for revenge on the playing field.

The game started with AF scoring first on a field goal, but that was to be their only points for the day, on or off the field. As half time approached, the announcers kept hyping the big falcon flight demo. But first, it was Navy’s turn. SECNAV had dispatched the crack USMC Drum and Bugle Corps, which was a top notch military unit marching with great precision in their brilliant scarlet dress uniforms. Plus they had the Marine drill team on hand, playing catch and “baton-twirling” with their chrome-plated rifles. It was an impressive show and used up most all of the half time. Finally, the big moment came for the performing falcons. The handlers came on with their birds and released two of them, who flew in a big circle around the inside of the stadium, as they had been conditioned to do. But then, as the handlers swung lures on a long line, the birds, instead of diving on the lures, just went and sat on the top of the scoreboard. The frustrated handlers ran around on the field trying to get the birds attention, hollering and twirling the lures. But the birds remain perched, with cocked heads and a dazed confused look. Finally, as the teams came back on the field, the birds made a few feeble swoops and that was the big show.

The game was almost anticlimactic. Navy won 35-3.

After the game, rumors started to spread around the Brigade that some mids had taken some actions that affected the AF trained birds. Details and names were not mentioned, and a fuller story really only came to light quite a bit later. The gist of it was that some classmates had gone into a skinny lab, scavenged some parts from some old sonar sets, and with the possible support of some officer instructors, fabricated a high frequency transmitter, and installed it beneath the stands at the stadium. Broadcasting above the range of human hearing, it was heard by the birds and disoriented them. True or just urban myth, and subsequent revelations many years later seemed to verify the story, thousands of eye witnesses saw that something certainly happened to the birds. Among the reasons for more info not coming out were that apparently no one had gotten any permission to use the lab equipment, several FCC regs were probably violated, and if any officer instructors had helped, or even just looked the other way, they could have gotten into big trouble. In any event, it is a great story, and the events were witnessed by the entire classes of “61 through ’64.

 

The Right Blend: Navy's Storied '63 Season

By Don McPhail

As a new football season approaches, fans seek comfort in past glories while they peer into the mysteries presented by new players and regrouped opponents. Two of Navy's most glorious seasons came over forty years ago, in 1960 and 1963, and occurred during head coach Wayne Hardin's tenure. Each team made legitimate runs at the national championship, and each was led by a Heisman Trophy winner: fiery Joe Bellino in 1960, and the legendary Roger Staubach in 1963.

Many believe that Navy's finest team was the 1963 squad that ended up ranked #2 in the country after a 28-6 post-season loss to #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Ironically, the '63 team lost its only 2 games in the Cotton Bowl Stadium, where Staubach would later begin his career as a Dallas Cowboy.

The Staubach-led squad began the season as a typical Navy team -- quick, tough and disciplined, and likely to compete in every game. No-one expected them to actually win all but one of them and earn a major bowl slot. As the year unfolded, the 1963 team proved also to be courageous and quite special. This scrappy group of overachievers captured the interest of America's football fans with an upset win at Notre Dame, and it showcased the most exciting player in the country. And its success was directly linked to the nationally ranked 1960 squad, whose influence on the incoming 1961 plebes and 1962 youngsters -- the nucleus of the 1963 team -- was considerable.

The 1960 link: The 1960 midshipmen were ranked fourth in the nation and played fifth-ranked Missouri in the Orange Bowl. Senior running back Bellino swept football's top awards, including the Heisman trophy and Maxwell Club award for the nation's top overall player, and Walter Camp award as top back. Lineman Frank Visted joined quarterback Hal Spooner and Bellino in the Senior Bowl game, a premier all-star game for the best players in the country. Only a few months later, following graduation with their Class of 1961, Visted, Spooner and Bellino remained at Annapolis as assistant coaches for the incoming class of 1965 plebes. As graduate-assistants under longtime plebe coach Dick Duden, they would help shape Navy's next nationally-ranked team and a second Heisman trophy winner. It was clear that these high achievers -- Bellino, Spooner and Visted -- set the tone for the new Navy players, including the newest varsity players from the class of 1964, who as plebes had cheered their upperclassmen on their way to national ranking.

The Class of '64: The strength of this group of athletes was a combination of toughness and speed. They were relentless. And like most Navy teams, they always worked harder than their opponents. Team leaders were three future Admirals: center and brigade heavyweight boxing champion, Tom Lynch, quiet and intelligent guard Alex Krekich, and savvy defensive back Bobby Sutton, a converted quarterback who was one of the leaders of Navy's defense. Quiet leadership was also demonstrated by athletic ends Jim Campbell and Dave Sjuggerud. Quick and acrobatic Johnny Sai provided offensive speed, and Joe Ince was a steadying influence at flanker. It should be noted that another key lineman, Tom Holden, was later killed in Viet Nam.

The Class of '65: While a talented group of athletes entered the Academy in 1961, entry year for the class of 1965, the initial success of their plebe season was only promising, not great. It was flawed by an early loss to the University of Maryland, and the eventual defection of mercurial plebe running back, Darryl Hill, to that same Maryland varsity. Highly acclaimed out of Washington, DC and the first African-American football player in Navy history, Hill went on the star for the Terrapins. With Hill and track sprinter Kip Paskewich, the 1961 plebes were explosive on offense, complimented by powerful Pat Donnelly and Pat Varriano as the tough inside runners. Even as a plebe, Staubach was clearly a premier quarterback, whose athleticism was reinforced by determination and an incredible work ethic.

The new plebes were smart, as exemplified by eventual Churchill scholar, fullback Pat Donnelly and rugged linebacker, placekicker and future varsity captain, Fred Marlin. They were confident, with center Bruce Kenton, and rangy tackles Jim Freeman and Pat Philbin anchoring the line. They had leaders, like Staubach, Marlin and a shifty, good-natured running back, Doug Katz, who later achieved the rank of Vice Admiral. Rugged and genial end Doug McCarty was later killed in an aircraft training accident shortly after graduation.

This class attracted tremendous athletes. Talented quarterbacks like Skip Orr and Geoff Groves moved to other positions rather than stay as reserves. Orr became Staubach's go-to receiver and Groves added depth and tactical strength as punter.

Possibly touched by destiny, in the summer of 1962 this squad would launch their varsity careers by shaking the hand of president John F. Kennedy during an unexpected drop-in by Kennedy and his staff during two-a-day football drills at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. They would enjoy a special link to president Kennedy during those Camelot years in the White House.

During their careers, the class of 1964 players won 21 games and lost 10; the 1965 players won 17 games, lost 13 and tied 1. But their combined 9-1 season was the legacy year. They played in a major bowl game for the national championship, and spawned one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, at either college or professional levels. Staubach and Navy were featured on 1963 covers of Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated, and lauded for their explosive style in the cover articles. Nearly forty-five years later the National Football Foundation honored Staubach with their highest award, the Gold Medal, presented to seven U.S. Presidents, Jackie Robinson and only a handful of other prominent Americans.

As the team found during his injury-plagued senior season, when their record fell to 3 wins, 6 losses and 1 tie, Staubach was clearly the key and the catalyst. But at the highest level, winning teams need more than the nation's premier player. They also need surrounding players who are similarly tough, relentless and who absolutely refuse to lose. This is where the combined classes of 1964 and 1965 -- motivated by their nationally ranked predecessors from the class of 1961 -- bonded to create just the right blend for this championship season.

Coach Hugh McWilliams, The Staubach of His Era

After Staubach, Navy's legendary four-year, three-sport star, the second best athlete at Navy in the sixties may not have been an active player, but his backfield coach Hugh McWilliams. Coach McWilliams may have been the Roger Staubach of his own era, in the late forties. Those who played ball with him back then would likely agree.

There are surprising parallels between Staubach and McWilliams. Each was the best player on a powerhouse football team. Each lettered in three sports -- football, baseball and basketball -- for three years. Each man was respected by teammates, coaches and classmates, as a natural and humble leader. And each devoted four years of military service during difficult war years.

Hugh McWilliams passed away in December, 2005, remembered fondly by former players and colleagues. His career took him and his family to cities around the United States -- from Stockton to Palo Alto High School in California, to Annapolis, then on to Temple University in Pennsylvania. He died in California after a struggle with prostate cancer, near his family and remembered as a kind, thoughtful and unselfish man. To his past players he remained "Coach Mac". Flanker Skip Orr commented, "Coach Mac was a very special coach and person. Since most everyone on the team played two-ways, we did not spend the entire practice with one position coach but rotated during the course of practice. I looked forward to his offensive backfield station. It was always spirited, well prepared, and full of effective learning tools. He was a true gentleman who was personable and humble, and loved by his players."

When former players began to piece a tribute together for this quiet man, they discovered he was one of the greatest athletes of his time. You would never know it, because coach Mac never mentioned his own accomplishments. As a pitcher, McWilliams was once offered a big league contract with the old Philadelphia Athletics, but chose College of the Pacific instead, where he was their star pitcher and most valuable player. He also starred in basketball for three years, and earned national praise as a three-year center and linebacker in football. When College of Pacific's legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg reflected on the best athletes he had ever coached, he described Hugh as the best of them all.

As they compiled background for the memorial at his old high school in Palo Alto, stories of McWilliams' leadership, his four-year, three-sport achievements and the universal respect for his way as a man emerged and then flowed from friends, teammates and colleagues around the country, including Staubach. He was a proud and principled man, a perfect fit for the Naval Academy. And his presence as a Navy coach helped mold two nationally ranked teams, as well as two future Heisman trophy winners and All-Americans: Bellino and Staubach.

As a fresh new season approaches, it seems fitting to acknowledge two of Navy's finest, who set the highest standards in their two eras, and who successfully collaborated in Navy's finest season.



Letter to the Editor:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the recent article by Mr. Don McPhail; The Right Blend: Navy's Storied '63 Season.

However, I must point out a very important historical correction. In his article Mr. McPhail credited Darryl Hill as the first African-American to play football at the Naval Academy. Mr Hill was not the first African-American to play football at Navy, my teammate in 1955 Mo Clark was. Hill was obviously a much better football player than Mo, but Mo played on our Plebe team, I don't recall how much he played but he was on the team. He only played Plebe year. There is a much bigger difference between Mo Clark and Darryl Hill, Mo graduated and went on to become a Navy pilot, he died about 10 years ago. Mo was a good man, a good friend and a good husband and father. I feel that I owe it to Mo to bring this to your attention.

A year or so ago a Baltimore reporter, Mr. Childs Walker wrote a brief article referring to Mr. Hill as the first African-American to play football at Navy, I corresponded with Mr. Walker at the time and I include below the historical correction that Mr. Walker published in the Baltimore Sun. Before the correction was printed, Mr. Walker informed Darryl Hill of this and as I recall Darryl Hill was very understanding.

I would like to quote the great Greek historian Herodotus .In his book The History of Herodotus" he wrote; " Very few things happen at the right time; and
the rest do not happen at all; the conscientious historian will correct these defects".

Sincerely, Tom Lukish, '59 Navy Football Player

Mids' silent groundbreaker - Missed in historical accounts, Clark was academy's 1st black player

By Childs Walker
childs.walker@baltsun.com
December 13, 2008

Maurice E. "Mo" Clark did not see himself as a pioneer. And apparently, neither did anyone who chronicled the history of football at the U.S. Naval Academy. Darryl Hill, a standout running back and receiver who went on to integrate Atlantic Coast Conference football for Maryland, had always been told by coaches and administrators that he was the academy's first black football player.

It was reported that way in dozens of articles and historical accounts.

But as it turns out, Hill, who debuted in 1961, was merely the first black Midshipman to play a down. Clark, a wide receiver from Brooklyn, N.Y., was on the roster of the 1955 plebe team. After reading a recent article about Hill, Clark's teammate, Tom Lukish, contacted the academy to correct the historical record.

"I had never heard of Maurice Clark," Navy sports information director Scott Strasemeier said.

Lukish wrote in an e-mail: "Mo was a good football player but not a great one. He played on our plebe team the entire season but, not thinking he was good enough to be a varsity football player and wanting to participate in other sports, he did not participate as a football player after our plebe year. I and all my teammates remember Mo as a good guy and we did not see him as integrating anything. We saw him as a teammate."

Lukish said Clark was also an excellent high jumper and heavyweight boxer and tried crew and basketball while at the academy. He graduated in 1959 and became an aviator. Clark went on to a successful business career in Philadelphia but died about 10 years ago. Lukish said Clark never saw himself as a groundbreaker and liked to joke with classmates about how poorly they were all treated as plebes. Hill remembered how little fuss was made about his arrival on campus as a black athlete. In that light, he was hardly surprised that no one remembered Clark's year in the program by the time he arrived six years later.

"The Navy," he said, "was so low-key about it."

 

Why Play Notre Dame?

In December 2006, Shipmate printed “Why Play Notre Dame?” and asked readers to send in their top reasons for playing Notre Dame. The responses ranged from enthusiastic support for the game and the tradition, to distaste for the seemingly bad habit. Some question the reasoning behind sending a team to lose 44 years in a row, and others celebrate the underdog spirit of competition. Regardless, the game brings national attention to two teams who share a commitment to athletics and to academics as the quintessential student athletes meet on field year after year.

Shipmate Readers Respond: Why Play Notre Dame? - November 2007 issue

Here are additional responses we've received since the article ran. Thanks for the feedback. Go Navy!

Shipmates:

I find it interesting that this question appears in the same issue with the article on the rehabilitation of Memorial Hall with David Lawrence's inspirational flag...brings to mind the words of a song in a 1930s film,

"Shipmates stand together,
Don't give up the ship!
Fair or stormy weather,
We won't give up, we won't give up the ship1
Shipmates stand together,
It's a long, long trip:
If you have to take a licking,
Carry on and quit your kicking.
Don't give up the ship!"

Our ship is not sinking: anyone who can recall the 1946 Army-Navy football game knows that Army had Blanchard and Davis and all the prog- nosticators on their side, but Navy had John D. (PT Boat) Bulkeley and the most fired up Brigade and team I have ever seen. The final score was 21-18 Army, with the ball in Navy possession on Army's 3-yard line, so who went home more proud that day?!

Of course we should play Notre Dame, for all of the reasons you note!

BEAT ARMY! -- BEAT EVERYBODY!

Walt Spangenberg, '48

Reference your Shipmate article "Why Play Notre Dame?", I recognize the primarily monetary reasons for playing ND in football every year. But there is something terribly wrong, maybe immoral, about getting defeated by the same team every year for the last 43 years! It's embarrassing! Notre Dame is at one level of football, Navy another. Do we play ND every year to re-convince ourselves that we are not in their football class? And what about the morale of the USNA Brigade, players and alumni facing that beating every year? Please - let's drop Notre Dame and stay in our football level, where, by the way, we are doing just fine.

P.S. Don't let the coach jump to another team. He's been terrific! Do what it takes to keep him.

Robert Coleman, '51

You missed the obvious one - Navy should continue to play Notre Dame because this game is an example of what college athletics is all about. At the end of the game, as you look at each team standing side by side while their respective school bands are playing the alma maters, you know that 98% or so of the players from both teams will graduate.

In addition, many of the Navy Midshipmen will be called upon to lay their lives on the line for our country. While Notre Dame does not require its graduates to commit to service in the military, most graduates from that school do have a committment to their country through the social conscience which they develop.

I suggest that we stop the Navy/Notre Dame annual rivalry when the earth stops rotating.

Phil Russo, ND '80

I have my favorite reason to play Notre Dame:

YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'LL MEET!

I never dreamed my husband, James Midkiff '90, would be one of the Midshipmen on the bus at the Notre Dame game in the fall of 1989. When I told my friends I was marrying the "Navy guy" I'd met at the game, they were stunned. We still celebrate our "other anniversary" watching the game each year, and my husband and I have a friendly rivalry going that day. I'm waiting for the game when HE will have the bragging rights for a year!

Lisa Midkiff

It represents the challenge to do the “nearly” impossible. But more importantly, part of the Naval Academy’s mission "to develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically” by demonstrating that we (the Navy Family) do not take the easy way out. It would be all to easy to shy away from this challenge, but imagine where we would be today if our Navy shied away from impossible challenges it has faced during our history. No, we say and we fight, for all the right reasons.

Henry Aszklar
Sr. Vice President
Econergy International

I think you should generate another list of why Notre Dame should play Navy …

5. The international exposure we bring them.
4. The opportunity for Notre Dame players to see a march-on and fly over.
3. The opportunity for Notre Dame players to give advance thanks to the men and women who will be protecting their freedom in the years to come.
2. The opportunity for Notre Dame players and coaches to hear us sing "Navy Blue and Gold"
1. Because we allow them to.

David Sousa
Regional Business Manager
Interbake Foods LLC

In the December issue of the "Shipmate" on page 13, the question was asked "Why play Notre Dame?"
Please permit me to introduce myself and then forward an Email that relates to the subject. I graduated as Ensign in the NROTC unit at Notre Dame in 1945, and served on active duty in the Navy for 27 years (mostly in the submarine service) and retired as a Captain. As a young Lieutenant Commander, I taught Navigation at Luce Hall at the Naval Academy 1958-60. I am one of the few Associate Members of the USNA Alumni Association and always look forward to receiving my copy of "Shipmate".

Before the most recent Notre Dame-Navy game, I sent the below Email to many of my Navy and Notre Dame friends. I think the message and the attached picture explains a lot about the relationship between Notre Dame and the Navy. If it had not been for the Navy during World War II, there might not be a University of Notre Dame today.

If I receive a response to this Email, I will forward to you a second Email that I sent to the Notre Dame Alumni Office a couple of years ago, that explains the various Navy programs on the Notre Dame campus during World War II, such as V-12, Midshipmen School, and NROTC.

Robert E. Thomas, Captain, USN (Retired)
3712 Southernwood Way
San Diego, CA 92106

Past President of Notre Dame Alumni Class of 1945
Associate Member of Naval Academy Alumni Association


-------- Original Message --------

Subject:
NOTRE DAME VS NAVY
Date:
Thu, 26 Oct 2006 06:23:18 -0700
From:
Bob Thomas


This Saturday (October 28), the football teams of the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame and the Midshipmen of the U. S. Naval Academy will meet in Baltimore to play their 80th game against each other.. The game will be aired on CBS starting at Noon (EDT).. This series started in 1927 and has been played every year without interruption. This is the longest consecutive series in college football.

Of the past 79 games, Notre Dame has won 69, Navy has won 9 and there has been one tie. Notre Dame has won the last 42 games. Why does this lop-sided series continue? The attached picture gives some insight into the answer. The picture was taken in April 1944. The first group of six rows is the Midshipman School (approx 1200). The second group of one row on the sidewalk is the NROTC unit (approx. 120). The third group of two rows (on the grass between the sidewalks) is the Marine V-12 unit (approx. 200). The fourth group (on the grass in the rear) is the Navy V-12 unit (approx. 700). In the background is the Knute Rockne Memorial building (built about 1938). These approximately 2200 men in the picture constituted about 80% of the "students" on campus.

The Navy and Notre Dame institutions have always had a deep respect for each other. At the conclusion of the 2005 game (played at Notre Dame, and won by Notre Dame 42-21), the entire Notre Dame football team and their coaches assembled in front of the Naval Academy contingent and stood at attention with their helmets over their hearts while the Naval Academy Midshipmen sang their alma mater ("Navy Blue & Gold"). This series is very special !

Since I graduated at Notre Dame, spent a long career in the Navy, and taught at the Naval Academy, I always watch this game with great mixed emotions.

GO NAVY !! GO IRISH !!

PS: On some computers, you might have to scroll back and forth and up and down a bit to see the entire picture.

Bob Thomas

Q: Why Navy should continue to play Notre Dame?

A: So we can keep singing our words to the Army fight song when Army sings it at football games!!!!!!

(To the tune of On Brave Old Army Team)

We don’t play Notre Dame,
We don’t play Tulane,
We just play Holy Cross,
‘Cause that’s the fearless Army way!

I love singing that song!!! And my WOOP friends hate it!

Actually, part of this is included in reason #2 you printed – Notre Dame’s president offered a game slot to Army WHO DECLINED IT, and Navy jumped at the opportunity. J

Go Navy!

Bill Stiles, ‘77

 

Army-Navy Sea Stories

by Buddy Wellborn '59

1955: Off the Field -At the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in late November 1955, Navy midshipmen were holding their annual ritualistic "Army-Navy Pep Rally" on a wind-blown, salt-spray-striped, dredged land-field known as Farragut Field. The final highlighted event of the evening was duly to burn a straw-stuffed dummy of an Army mule hanging in effigy. Midshipmen, friends and parents of midshipmen, and Navy fans had gathered around telephone-pole tall bon-fires outlining the field to cheer "their" team. I was one of the 4000-some midshipmen on that field-- that night. It was a dark, cold night, and was getting colder as the night crept on. It must have been close to freezing, or at least a freezing wind-chill factor. Even in long underwear, wool-woven navy-blue uniforms and a matching "Reefer" coat with gloves, those of us from the south were cold to the bone. After some rather demure testimonials by some of our star players, who were required to be "cool," like Johnny Hopkins, Ron Beagle, and George Welsh, and of course our head coach, "The Eagle," Eddie Erdelatz, there were some rousing cheers of hurrah and some dutiful singing of spirited fight songs. As the duty torch was ignited "to light up" the mule, an eerie chant started among the dark-clad crowd-- "We want Army, We want Army...." The frenzied crowd-- THE MOB-- wanted the Army Officer who was on exchange duty from West Point to come to the fore. My, oh my, he was my-- MY-- company officer, CAPTAIN ALEXANDER MEIGS HAIG, JR. U.S. ARMY. From out of the crowd and around a 50-foot-high blazing bon-fire, he came to the platform-steps going up to the chilly, gallows-like stage. He took them two at a time, all 13 of them, yes, of course, there were 13. In accordance with tradition, he took off his cap and his blouse-- that is, his uniform coat replete with medals earned in the Korean War. The jeering was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think over the throb of your heart beating-- in your throat. Talk about swallow-- have you ever been to a lynching? In nothing but his T-shirt, he must have been freezing when he took the microphone from the head cheerleader. But then, with one fist pumping in the air and with heated spirit, he exhorted, "It's going to be one of the best games in the country-- I hope to see all of you there!" And, the crowd went wild-- CHEERING HIM. Everybody clapped as he re-donned his uniform shaking hands with the Navy players. He had it-- you know, that "it" in LEADERSHIP for which We, the People, are now in such dire need. Twenty years later, he was Commander-in-Chief/Europe as a four-star general and I was under his command again as commanding officer of THE ship steaming in Strimonikos Kolpos extracting nuclear weapons from Greece. There was a developing "situation" at the dark of the moon that early, early morning in the Kolpus, and in response to my report, he said to me, "You handle it as best you see fit-- I'll back you up." And, "...on other fields, on other days" that's the "It"-- in spades.


1957: On the Field - Mid-morning on a Saturday, November 30, 1957, in a dressing room for entertainers in the basement of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, Navy's football team was getting taped-- with adhesive tape, of course. The room smelled of adhesive and "tough-skin" (a benzoin and alcohol mixture). I looked at my teammate, and wondered how he could run being taped like that -- he was covered in it. He was our starting halfback, leading rusher, punt returner and place-kicker. He also was our team "Captain." He was Edwin Wilson "Ned" Oldham, N* USNA '58, the epitome of All-American "Guts and Go!" I gibed at him saying, "Hey, Ned, with all that tape, you ought to buy stock in Johnson&Johnson." You have to know how to manage dirt and hurt to be able to smile with your teeth clinched, and say, "Yea." It was all quiet on the bus riding out to the stadium. It was the last few minutes to get the butterflies together in one sock-- it was "Game Face" time. Over a 100,000 rain-soaked fans cheered as Army and Navy battled it out in the mud for the Lambert Trophy-- symbol of the NCAA's Eastern Football Champion. The advertising placard on the bus for National Bo beer summed it up for us-- "Wet, Cold and Delicious." It was NAVY 14 ARMY 0-- and we were on our way to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl. We not only had held Army's vaunted 300-yards-per-game rushing dynamic-duo of Anderson and Dawkins to 88 yards, but we had shut them out-- a first. This was our tenth game of the season and Harry Hurst, our right halfback had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over California, Tom Forrestal ourAll-American quarterback had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over Georgia, and I had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over Notre Dame-- in South Bend! Well, that day, a wet cold and delicious Saturday in Philadelphia, it was a defensive struggle of hit and be hit. Our All-American tackle and Maxwell Trophy winner, Bob Reifsnyder was rated somewhere between a low fantastic and high magnificent that day-- on both sides of the ball. Army only gained a total of 136 yards as Navy gained 237 yards. Ned Oldham gained 55 of those tough yards, scoring with a six-yard run on the option-pitch. You'd have to see the film to believe how many times he was hit, keeping his feet, not going down, and then he-- Johnson&Johnson and all-- exploded into the end zone. Then, for the hammer driving the final nail in the last quarter, Ned ran back a punt for 44 yards and the put-away score. Of course, he also kicked both PAT's. So, at the end of the day, it was OLDHAM 14 ARMY 0. Ned Oldham was unanimously voted AP's Back of the Week completing the cycle for Navy with all four backs. The train ride back to Baltimore/Annapolis that Sunday was, to say the least, a "memorable" junket, which is yet another story-- that we only tell among ourselves.

 

A Navy Sports "Sea Story"

Provided by Buddy Wellborn '59

Prelude

This is an Army-Navy story that should be published and should be archived in Army-Navy sports memorabilia for the record. This is a "reach-out-and-touch-somebody" happening that should stand as a testimonial for "America's Team" by a gallant few of America's "Silent Majority." They did this without fanfare or aplomb just to honor and say thanks to our cherished youth that have given so much of themselves for the rest of us. If the following excerpt doesn't get to you, then you don't have a pulse.

"The most poignant moment for the Levin's was when 11 Marines hugged them Goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station. "One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."

God Bless America's Team,
Buddy Wellborn, N* USNA '59

Here's a 'today' Yule story that occurred 3 weeks ago ~ AND NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard.

It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops. "We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett. So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it. Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard. One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D. C. for burial. "That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played. The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D. C. and Bethesda, in Maryland. "We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea. But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone: No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus.

No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op."

And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.

The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands. "I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs. Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train? The Liberty Limited.

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D. C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later. Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.

A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.

And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees:

From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.

There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.

The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory. Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D. C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day. "They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination."

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood. Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get
hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda. "The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it."

The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station. "One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."

It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love. "My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air." Maybe it was hope.

As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."

God bless the Levins.
And bless the troops, every one.

 

'Send a Volley Cheer on High'...By Phone A Reminiscence for the Class of 1958

By John H. Galla '58, MD

Extended Article from the Original Version Placed in the November 2007 Shipmate

As we contemplate the upcoming annual challenge for the Navy football team on the gridiron at South Bend this year, we, the class of 1958, reflect back to November 50 years ago. On November 2, 1957, under rainy skies in South Bend, Indiana, the mighty Navy juggernaut sent the previously unbeaten Fighting Irish down to defeat on their home turf for the first time and for the second year in a row.

Several weeks before the game, the Brigade was chafing under the realization that we unfortunately would be unable to attend or to view the game on television. We could only listen to the radio broadcast. These grumblings resonated in the Brigade Activities Committee, whose duty it is to whip frenzy for victory in the troops, but things looked grim.

Fate intervened. Barry Howard and Rich Roddey '59, were expressing this frustration to a fellow at the Public Works building, who casually mentioned that he knew that coaxial cable was available all over the country and possibly at Notre Dame stadium. Barry and Rich saw that this was an opportunity to bring sound to South Bend. They brought "The Idea" to one of our weekly brainstorming session: We need to have the team hear our cheers. So, the committee - JB Davis, Bill Diesing, Bob Doty, Goldie Goldstein, Howard, Denny Huff, Bob Mason, JC Miller, Willie Parks, Roddey, George Segelbacher, Al Thresher '59, me, and probably others whose names are in the mist - formed the collective generative force and began to secure the necessary support for the enterprise.

As the organic process of the "plan" took shape, the essence was as follows: Assemble the members of the Brigade to listen to the game together, organize and coordinate the cheering and transmit those cheers by phone line to field level at Notre Dame Stadium, and amplify the sound so our team could hear the Brigade. Obviously the scope of the plan would require the expertise of many: the cheerleaders lead by John Rohrbough and the Marconi squad at WRNV with Terry Magrath as point man. And then there was the problem of money to finance this enterprise.

Our ebullient and most supportive officer representative, Capt. Ralph Brown, USMC, honchoed the project through the Executive Department. He secured permission from Captain Abbott to proceed and fundraising from the Brigade began. John Rohrbough recalls that we only had relatively few days to pass the hat and baskets were placed at the entrances to the mess hall. The dollars and the coins poured in and quickly met our needs for two dedicated phone lines from Annapolis to Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. We needed one line for transmission of sound and another for two-way coordination. Job One was accomplished.

Next, there was the matter of transporting all the necessary gear such as amplifiers, speakers, and the appropriate connectors to South Bend. I had been in a bit of hot water with Capt. Abbott over some of my "miscommunications" so it was again Capt. Brown who arranged orders for several of us to go South Bend and cleared matters with the Notre Dame administration. Barry Howard — a Hoosier with connections — , Terry Magrath, myself, and — to my best recollection - one or two others from WRNV went to Baltimore on the bus and caught the train to Chicago on Friday evening. Well before sunrise on Saturday morning, the train stopped at a highway crossing somewhere amidst the cornfields south of South Bend. We were met by two cars that had been arranged by one of the members of the group and they drove us to Notre Dame Stadium.

By game time, we were set up in the southeast corner at about the 20-yard line and ready to roar. Barry Howard handled the liaison phone on the sidelines, I was in the press box, and the electronic wizards had their gear peaked.

Back in the Yard, Johnnie Rohrbough and his team of cheerleaders had organized everything at the new Field House. A football field in blue and gold crepe paper was laid out on the canvas-covered basketball court, the band played, refreshments were available, microphones to pick up the cheering were placed, loudspeakers were tuned to the game and the bleachers were packed with Mids and drags. Johnnie had even arranged a halftime show. The Brigade was and remained in its full and raucous voice.

Throughout the game, Barry Howard was able to see when to cheer and when to listen and transmitted this information to the cheerleaders throughout the game. As it progressed, Navy was rolling and the Irish fans were furious. With Navy driving toward the South goal for another touchdown sometime in the fourth quarter, Barry recalls the ND students attempted to storm the field in an effort to demolish our sound system but it was too late for ND. The mighty Navy team put Ray Wellborn into the end zone for the third time and carried the day, 20 — 6. Barry was the happy recipient of a crisp id="mce_marker"00 bill from an ecstatic Eddie Erdelatz as he and the football team and our intrepid sound squad exited the field. Rich Roddey relates that on the ND campus after the game, two Navy players in uniform were approached by a group of nuns who said, "We're glad you won because ND needed it, but where were your fans sitting? They were so loud!" The victory was particularly sweet for me as I happily lay my head down that night in Sorin Hall, my dad's — John J. Galla, ND '33 — old dorm. It also remains a perennial bragging rite as the father of John M. Galla, ND '88.

Although the Notre Dame administration apparently gave permission for us to be on the field with our sound equipment and informed the ND students of this (this was confirmed by a local ND '58 grad who had attended the game), I suspect that there were deep regrets for that decision. Indeed, rumor has it that, in aftermath of our enterprise, the NCAA introduced a new football rule: either rule 1, section 4, article 9(f) which states: "No one in the team area or coaching box may use any artificial sound amplification to communicate with the players on the field" or rule 9-2 b (5) "Persons subject to the rules including bands shall not create any noise that prohibits a team from hearing its signals." Whether our enterprise played any role in the institution of either of these rules or whether they even existed at the time, I am unaware, but, one thing is sure: On that day we were able to "...shake down the thunder from the sky!..."

Figures
1. Program cover for the 1957 Navy-Notre Dame football game. Compliments of Gerry Motl, USNA '68.
2. The Field house crew at Annapolis. 1st row - John Rohrbough '58, Ted Wu '59, Chuck Crigler '60; 2nd row — JD Hocker '58, Wayne Haley '59, Frank Snell '61, Joe Marshall '61, Dave Kalb '60 (L to R)
Compliments of J.D. Hocker '58 and Fred Victor '58.
3. Harry Hurst '58 sweeping left. From the 1958 Lucky Bag (not shown).
4. Roland Brandquist '59 sweeping right. From the 1958 Lucky Bag (not shown).
Note: All individuals depicted and who can be identified can be contacted through the USNA Alumni Association

 

© 2012 United States Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation