WEST POINT, N.Y. -- This year’s Army-Navy Game reveal of the “Tropic Lightning” uniform triggered feelings of dignity, joy and excitement as Class of 2022 Cadet Randy McKenzie marveled at the simplistic yet effective design choice unveiled by the Army West Point football team in honor of America’s Pacific Division, on Sunday.
“The main thing I noticed is what we (at the 25th Infantry Division) call the lightning strawberry,” McKenzie said of the 2020 Army-Navy game uniform.
McKenzie explained how the symbol reminded him of his past experiences when he served nearly two years as a cannon crew member (13 Bravo) at the 25th ID at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii prior to becoming a cadet at West Point.
McKenzie remembered, when he was private at the 25th ID, his platoon leader at the time, Capt. Sarah Epperson, was a graduate from West Point. She saw a lot of potential in McKenzie and believed he would do great things if he turned his path toward officership at West Point rather than pursuing the non-commissioned officer route.
McKenzie took Epperson’s advice and journeyed thousands of miles away from the 25th ID. Nonetheless, he never would’ve imagined that this year’s uniform would take him through memory lane.
“I think about all the days I spent working relentlessly in the field, all the hard training we conducted — those are the memories the lightning strawberry symbol brings up,” McKenzie said. “I can only imagine what memories the symbol will bring up for others who served in the 25th Infantry Division when they see the new uniform.”
McKenzie added the dark green colors (medium olive for the top and sequoia for the pants) are a very fitting choice representing the hardship and drudgery the 25th ID faced during the World War II and Korean War eras, which is the specific time period for the color scheme. The iconic lightning bolt with the taro leaf overlay was the prefect touch to exemplify the prestige and iconic stature of the 25th ID.
“I know that almost every uniform I ever wore when I was stationed at Hawaii had the lightning strawberry symbol,” McKenzie said. “From our OCP (Operational Camouflage Pattern) uniforms, dress uniforms — sometimes I would even see the symbol on our PT (physical training) uniforms.”
Pictures and videos were posted on social media showcasing the rich juniper colored jersey with the “Tropic Lightning” name patch sitting on the right side and the Nike symbol sitting on the left.
The wording, “In courtesy of the 27th Infantry,” is stitched on top of the right shoulder pad. Also, a white sigil of a wolf was sewn on the left shoulder pad paying homage to the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds) who were a part of the 25th Infantry Division during the Korean War.
The trousers along with the helmet and gloves are overlaid with dark-Sacramento green with the words “Wolf Hounds,” highlighted in white, running down the length of the trousers.
“Seeing the uniform definitely makes me excited because, with my time as a cadet, I don’t think about much else other than completing assignments and staying on the path to becoming an officer,” McKenzie said. “But when I saw the new uniform come out and the 25th Infantry Division being represented, it just brought back memories. Memories of going through the application process for West Point. It brought up the images of how hard I worked to get here because it’s kind of a different path than most of the cadets here.”
McKenzie added this year would show how far the Army West Point football team has come since their loss 73 years ago against the Navy at Michie Stadium.
“I think the easy answer is that Army’s going to win, obviously. Even though the atmosphere is different this year with the stress of COVID, I feel once everyone gets into the game — into that rivalry, all of that stress will go away,” McKenzie said. “The game is going to be intense with both sides trying their hardest to win, but I believe the Army will pull through!”