Tributes & Stories

Army-Navy Memories

An Army-Navy Tale
1950 Army-Navy—An Unforgettable Football Game
Tales From Army Navy - 1981-1985
Team Named Desire
Navy Proud at U.S. Senate
Salvaging the American Football Culture - 4 Quarters of Inspiration New!
Operation Goat Rope
Army-Navy Sea Stories: 1955 & 1957
Army-Navy Game - A Navy Sports "Sea Story"


An Army-Navy Tale

By Dorse "Dube" Dubois '61

Of course the place has changed; Navy has had to adapt for many reasons, won't go into them here.  Am aware that peeps don't particularly want to hear from an old Grad how tough it used to be, how they don't make 'em like they used to..  Etcetera, etcetera. The tendency of old guys to lose their short term memories and bore those around them with ancient stuff they CAN remember is so common as to have become proverbial.  Read on at the risk of falling asleep in the middle of this; it's a story about bathrobes.

See, back in the late 50's and 60's going to school at a Service Academy was a bit like entering a convent; it was a monkish environment, no women, no girls just a bunch of guys.  We took our vows but they were not of the religious sort.  With only men in the place we were free after study hour and before taps to wander the passageways in our B-robes.  But these were not just any old B-robes; every year you were expected to bet the Kaydets a B-robe on the game.  After the Zoomies joined us it got more colorful, as theirs changed color for each Class.  But you get the picture, everybody in B-robes in the halls, it was good to get comfortable out of uniforms.

The most coveted ones were the Army robes. They were made of heavy wool, gray with gold stripes, well made and to see them meant a victory over Army. But the Military being what it is, they were not just plain B-robes, they were decorated. Yup, as a Plebe if you "lettered" you got to have your class number sewn onto the back. As you progressed you added the "N"s. A Varsity jock could have N's trailing all the way to the deck; it was like ribbons or medals. Our Navy robes were just as prized at West Point and for the same reasons, meant a victory over the Squids.

Turns out I went back to usnay as a Company Officer and then to West Point for a year as a Tactical Officer. Tacs had the same function at the Point as we had by the Bay.  But it tended to get interesting towards the day of The Army Game.

I was at a social gathering of Tacs and their wives that winter, a week or so before the game and my Cadets and I had been going at it already for a week.  The Commandant of Cadets, a Brigadier General, engaged in ragging my a** about the game, a bloody mary in his hand and asked if I'd like to "bet on the game."  "Sir, what did the General have in mind?"  His face turned mischievous and his eyes challenged mine, "Ohhh maybe a thousand?"

As a mere Lieutenant Commander I had no $1K lying around and the General knew it.  It was a challenge and it got a bit quiet in the vicinity as people waited to see my response.  "Sir, that's a bit steep for me, how about my B-robe against yours?"  Now it was back on him, how could he refuse?  He said, "You're on, Commander," and I added, "loser presents his robe to the winner on the front steps of Washington Hall, at Noon Meal formation."  He nodded his assent with a grin from ear to ear.

Long story short we won that year, 11-7 and true to his word the Commandant gave me his B-robe. On the front steps of Washington Hall. Before the entire Corps of Cadets. And here's where it gets interesting. The General, "Hanging Sam Walker," actually gave me the robe he wore as a Plebe!  It was furthermore the robe his wife had worn to the Hospital when giving birth to their first child, a baby boy. This was a family heirloom and the General's wife HAD to be more than ticked off.  It was gonna' be a cold winter indeed, on the Hudson that year.  

To further complicate matters, their son, Bucky Walker was a Firstie in my Company. And therein lay a possible way out of the conundrum in which I found myself. I had gone by the Commandant's office just before Christmas with the General's wife's B-robe wrapped up in Christmas wrapping, and inquired if I could leave a package there. The General heard my voice and came out, what's this? Sir, just a present for the Missuz. What's in it?  Sir, not for me to say, it's Mrs. Walker's present.  After Christmas the robe was duly returned to me. See, by this time it had become a matter of honor and all I wanted to do was give that poor Mom back her robe.  But to the General a bet was a bet; he'd have died before he'd take charity from a Navy man.

By now I'm sweating bullets.  No way I can keep that robe, especially since I was gonna' likely just give him a brand new one out of the Mid Store if I lost. What to do?

Bucky was first string on Army's LAX  team, so the next time I pulled duty I went up to the Company area and knocked on his door and entered the room during study hour. Furniture flew as four Cadets stood at attention in their skivvies. At ease, gentlemen.  And they relaxed slightly.  Mister Walker, I seem to have something that belongs to your Mom.  Yes sir. Would you like to go double or nothing, your B-robe against your Mom's, on the game against Navy?  A slow smile spread across his face and he turned toward me and we shook on it.

Bucky played the game of his life that year, scored several goals against us.  And I presented Mrs. Walker's B-robe to the Commandant.  On the steps of Washington Hall.  At noon meal formation.

It was the only time I ever rooted for Army against Navy.

Just sayin'.



1950 Army-Navy—An Unforgettable Football Game

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


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."  (

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.
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!" 


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!


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 VADM 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.

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


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.