Whether it’s the cadets and midshipmen performing the march onto the field, the notorious “prisoner exchange” or who gets to sing their academy’s alma matter second, the tradition and nostalgia surrounding the annual Army-Navy game has the power to create lasting memories.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley:
“One of my earliest memories is an Army-Navy game with my dad watching on a black-and-white TV up in Massachusetts.”
Milley’s father served with the 4th Marine Division in World War II. His mother served in the Navy Medical Corps during WWII. Other family members served in the Army in World War I and World War II.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth:
“Last year was my first time at the Army-Navy game. The game didn’t quite end the way I was expecting or hoping, but we’ll get them this year.”
Wormuth shared that she does not let the storied rivalry come between her and her husband, a veteran Navy officer.
“He is 100% cheering for Army, otherwise he’d be sleeping on the couch,” she joked.
Nate Boyer, former Army Green Beret turned University of Texas long snapper and Seattle Seahawk.
Boyer, who joined the Army in 2005 and earned the Green Beret in Dec. 2006, shared that he watched football every chance he could whenever he was stationed overseas. Among other deployments, Boyer served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That was my escape, football,” he said. Later, Boyer played as a walk-on to the football team at the University of Texas, while also serving in the Texas Army National Guard, and remembered fondly watching the Army-Navy game by himself in the locker room.
“This game is like nothing else. There is no sporting event, there is no rivalry that compares,” he said.
Vice Adm. Sean Buck, U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent:
“My most memorable game was my first year as superintendent in 2019. Navy had the winningest season in history. The biggest comeback from a horrible season before to go 11-2 and beat Army.”
Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland, U.S. Military Academy at West Point superintendent.
“My most memorable game was in 2016 when we broke the streak. It was the first my wife and I had gone to since we were cadets, my senior year in 1989. We go and the break the streak.”
Army had lost 14 straight games to Navy until the 2016 matchup.
First Captain of Cadets Lauren Drysdale, a senior from Irvine, California and player on the West Point Women’s Soccer Team.
“My most memorable Army-Navy game was the women’s soccer game this year, when we won.”
But Drysdale also watches the football game.
“My plebe year we lost. My Yuk year [a cadet’s sophomore year] was COVID. It was an exciting game and after that game, the whole [Corps of Cadets] was able to go home after eight months of not being able to leave.
Rob Braggs, West Point graduate and former Army officer now with insurance company USAA, a game sponsor and booster.
“The thing I remember most was the March On. The feeling, it was a special thing. Hearing the cheers reverberate across the field.”
Bill White, U.S. Naval Academy graduate, retired Navy captain, currently senior vice president and general manager with USAA.
“We lost the first three games, so senior year it was ‘do or die’ and we won the game with about 11 seconds to go on a field goal and we lost our minds.”
Navy Capt. Gervy Alota four-year varsity letterman and captain his senior year.
“My senior year. We finally won, 39-7.”
Peter Medhurst, Navy play-by-play announcer for 25 years.
“It will be Malcolm Perry’s 300-yard game against Army. For Malcolm to do that in 2019 on this stage, against this team that studies you all year because they want to win that one game against your team. To see him do that on this stage was great.”
Keenan Reynolds, the only Navy quarterback to go 4-0 against Army, NFL player on his first Army-Navy Game:
“All year long we’ve been going to games and the stadium’s closed. And it’s hours before the game starts and people are already lined up. Rabid Army fans booing as we’re driving up.”
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media