Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 2020.
As the Army-Navy rivalry continues ahead of Saturday’s game, we took a look at some of the best pranks between the Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
1) Army email prank on Navy
In 2012, the Naval Academy’s goat mascot went missing and was found next to a grass median near the Pentagon. Later that week, someone, presumably an Army fan, hacked into the United States Naval Academy’s email account and sent a mass note trolling Midshipmen everywhere.
“Greetings,” the note begins. “In preparation for the humiliating defeat Army will be dealing to us in the near future, I have some guidance to pass down.”
The email goes on to Navy some instructions on how to improve their game, including tips for after their predicted loss:
“First: when we stage for march-on, we need to clean up our act. The internet has us pegged as dirty slobs – this year, we need to bring trash bags and clean up after ourselves. From what I understand, Army is embarrassed to even be associated with us.
Second: clean up the actual march-on. Please at least pretend to be in the military. Dress right dress, don’t talk at attention, etc. Seriously, this one is too easy.
Third: we need to have better accountability of our goats. This is also very embarrassing.
Fourth: when Army sings second, we will be respectful and professional.
Fifth: we need to be better at cyber.
Finally, I award you all with PMI (sleep ins) until Christmas. Maybe even a little longer, depending on how morale is going after Army defeats us on Saturday.
Go Army, Sink Navy!”
Related: How the Army-Navy game of 1944 stopped World War II
2) Mule-napping, high-speed chase, and Federal Marshals
As far as historians can tell, just once in the storied 117-year history of Army-Navy have the Midshipmen ever infiltrated the U.S. Military Academy campus and successfully stolen the Army mascot mule.
After four years of planning and several reconnaissance missions to New York, the Midshipmen dressed as Soldiers and entered West Point in cars with New York plates and “Beat Navy!” bumper stickers.
They distracted a staff sergeant, told him they were delivering feed for the mules, and quickly subdued the remaining guards. Using molasses-sweetened feed to gain the mules’ trust, the mascots were easily loaded into a horse trailer. As the raiders left, one of the imprisoned guards broke free, and word quickly spread that thieves were fleeing with mules in tow.
There was a brief high-speed chase at the gate, but guards relented after securing the Midshipmen’s tag numbers. Helicopters began searching from above, and state police were alerted on the ground. Authorities were stationed at toll booths along the New Jersey Turnpike, and others waited at the Naval Academy’s gates. But the Midshipmen broke into two camps, and those with the mules took a secret path back to Maryland, heading north to Albany, N.Y., before turning south and cutting through Pennsylvania.
After a snack break at a nearby farm, night had fallen by the time the mules reached the Naval Academy. Inside the gates, the pep rally was about to begin, but outside, federal marshals and Defense Department police sprang from the darkness and temporarily foiled the heist. Quickly, word reached Lt. Angela Smith, the command duty officer, who informed the agents that they were on Navy property and she was in charge. She ordered the mules be escorted immediately to the pep rally.
Related: How a Navy ‘assault team’ once stole all 4 of West Point’s treasured mules
3) Pentagon Navy banner prank
Another Navy prank that would not be advisable today made headlines in 1980. Two Midshipmen snuck into the Pentagon to drape a large “Go Navy, Beat Army” sign from the top of the building.
The banner was made from 67 bedsheets sown together and measured 100 feet long by 40 feet wide.
4) Annapolis ‘Go Army, Beat Navy’ Day
In November of 2020, Mike Nemeth, a 2004 West Point graduate, and former intelligence officer who now works in marketing in Ohio, released a fake press release from the City of Annapolis. The release announced the Maryland capital’s first annual “Go Army, Beat Navy” day.
The faux announcement went up on the news release site PR Newswire on Nov. 4 and by midday had been picked up by Yahoo! News and tweeted out by two West Point-affiliated Twitter accounts.
“Although home to the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis has many residents who are proud supporters of the cadets of West Point,” the release said, allegedly quoting Mayor Mike Pantiledes. “We felt that it was important to acknowledge them as residents of Annapolis and provide them with an opportunity to support the great heritage of the United States Military Academy.”
The release included comments from fake business owners — identified as Sylvia Thayer and Fred Steuben, a nod to West Point’s first superintendent Sylvanus Thayer and a Prussian general who trained Continental Army soldiers: “We constantly hear from our customers that there’s more to this town than supporting the Navy. Not everyone likes boats — [i]t’ll be great to support real soldiers for once.”
Feature image: U.S. Army
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