Sunday, November 25, 2007

Army vs. Navy

The 108th annual Army-Navy game will be played in Baltimore on December 1. No, I really don't care about football, but I do have a few good memories of the 1983 Army-Navy game. That year it was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. I was in college in Pasadena, and we sold programs at the game as a fund raiser. I remember roaming the stands throughout the game, selling or at least trying to sell programs to the cadets and midshipmen. I don't remember who won that year. I do remember that I was cheering for Navy just because the Navy midshipmen were nicer to those of us who were selling the programs. They were so well-behaved and polite. Now, of course, I have a cousin in the Navy, so I guess it would only be right to cheer for Navy!

This weekend's USA Weekend featured some memories of the Army-Navy game from men and women who attended the service academies. Here's one of those stories:
Friends Never Forgotten
Pat Mangin
Annville, Pa.
Army Class of 1990

I played on the Army teams from 1986 to 1989. My best memory? During my last game, CBS caught me on camera butting helmets with my best friend. My other close friend, Ken Nadermann, didn't play football, but he was in the same F4 Fighting Frogs Company with me. We got through all four years together, and it wasn't easy. We started with 35 Frogs. In the end, about 20 graduated.

Ken served in Desert Storm, and by 1994, we found out that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease. Today, a number of the Frogs and I make it a tradition to watch the Army-Navy game with him at his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He can't talk to us anymore. His nurses read his lips for us. But he starts preparing for the game about eight weeks in advance, and you should see his house when hes done, all decked out with Army paraphernalia and chow, sodas and beer.

Last year, I got back from Iraq in November and went directly to Cedar Rapids so I could watch with Ken and the guys. My wife and 7-year-old son, Clay, actually got tickets to the game, so they were sending us cellphone images live from there. Thats right: I went to Cedar Rapids before I saw my family, after being gone for 16 months. Thats how important this tradition is.

I'm now stationed in Pennsylvania, and I'll be close to the stadium in Baltimore. So Ken had his nurse call me a while back, and he mouthed these words: "Tell Pat that I want him at the game this year with his wife and son." He knows my son loves Army football. But I wouldn't hear of it.

I said to him, "No way, dude. Not until you're gone. Then I'll get a sideline pass, look up at the sky during the flyover and think of you."
I read this one with tears in my eyes. Read more at USA Weekend and at Military Times.


  1. I was working at the Pentagon during that game. They had a parade through the Pentagon..with a Goat! I love the story with it...even tho it made me sad. :(


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