Exchange Midshipmen face cadet pranks at West Point
December 3, 2008
By Emily Tower
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2008) - U.S. Military Academy cadets sometimes pull a few pranks on their midshipmen neighbors during Army-Navy week: uniforms can turn up missing or furniture might migrate to the Plain.
"That's a partial reason I came up here this semester -- I wanted to see what (Army-Navy week) is like," said Midshipman 2nd Class Andy Mathes, an exchange student at West Point.
Traditionally, cadets enjoy harassing exchange midshipmen -- all in good fun, of course -- during the week leading up to the Army-Navy football game, which will be played Saturday in Philadelphia.
In fact, before midshipmen travel from the Naval Academy to West Point for their semester "abroad," as it were, they often receive briefings about Army-Navy week and what kinds of pranks to avoid. And this year, they had a plan to strike first.
"We thought to provoke (cadets) on the first night and see what they come up with in return," Mathes said. "I'm trying to get some help from my company to get the plebes. Everyone likes to get plebes."
Prank plans included taking all plebes' boots and shirts and mixing them up in a pile. Midshipman 2nd Class Lyzzy Brumbaugh knows about the strategic placement of several alarm clocks in a barracks room and learned how to open a lock with a rifle butt to be well-prepared to gather uniform items.
She also knew how to lock up her gear to make it more difficult for others to take her uniforms. She expected cadets to take her uniforms and leave portions of mascot and other uniforms in her closet. So, she hid her game uniform to make sure she has the appropriate clothing for the big day.
Other midshipmen were not as successful in hiding uniforms. Mathes had to attend class Monday in his pajamas, and Midshipman 2nd Class Allie Hamel attended in white works, the uniform Naval Academy students wear during their plebe summer.
While working through the week's challenges, Brumbaugh, Mathes and other midshipmen continue to plot the ultimate prank on West Point.
Their fellow midshipmen studying at the Air Force Academy this semester built a scale model of a submarine on the parade field before the Falcons lost to the Midshipmen in October. Midshipmen at USMA hope to at least meet that level of prank.
Most of the ideas they came up with won't happen because the midshipmen decided they would be too harsh.
They thought about painting George Washington's statue and burning "Go Navy" in the Plain's grass after cadets burned "Go Army" in the Naval Academy's parade field grass last year.
But, both midshipmen feel beating Army would be more satisfying to them than a prank.
Brumbaugh made a deal with her plebes. If Navy wins, they can no longer greet her with "Beat Navy" as they usually do.
"They can say the standard company greeting," she said. "I won't make them say 'Beat Army.' That's mean."
If Army wins, however, both midshipmen expect cadets won't let them heal from the defeat.
"They will pretty much rub it in my face the rest of the semester," Brumbaugh said.
Regardless of what happens -- if their heads get shaved, if they are tied up in the central area in a laundry bin, if their things are stolen, if their barracks room furniture is moved to a roof somewhere -- the midshipmen said they will maintain a sense of humor.
"You can't take it too seriously," Brumbaugh said. "If you do, it starts to get vicious."
(Emily Tower writes for the Pointer View newspaper.)