NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa., – This past Saturday, a group of veterans employed by U.S. Army Security Assistance Command traveled to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to witness the 122nd iteration of the Army-Navy football game.
Since 1890, the Army Black Knights have squared off against the Navy Midshipmen for one of college football’s greatest and most celebrated rivalry games.
“This isn’t just an ordinary football game,” said Army veteran and Director of Logistics and Acquisitions for USASAC, Michael Casciaro. “It’s America’s game, which means that all of America is watching. Almost 100% of the seventy or eighty-thousand in attendance are veterans themselves; and to see all of those vets decked out in their team’s gear, cheering for their respective service was unbelievable.”
For Navy veteran and Chief of USASAC CENTCOM Branch C Chief Chuck Gibson, it was his first time attending the historic contest. He had gone to other Navy football games in the past, put they paled in comparison to the splendor and pageantry of the Army-Navy Game.
“Most folks know about the Jet flyover, and the Army and Navy folks parachuting in, but there is so much more,” said Gibson. “Throughout the game there are dozens of different ceremonies to promote camaraderie, Lee Greenwood performed ‘Proud to be an American’, cadets from both sides rolled out a flag in the shape of the United States; honestly, everything presented from beginning to end was incredible.”
Another important aspect to the Army-Navy Game is the impact it will have on the next generation of future service members. For the past 4 years, Army veteran and USASAC Senior Central Case Manager for SOUTHCOM/NORTHCOM Joseph Kidwell Jr. has attended the Army-Navy Game with his family, and now his son plans on enlisting in the military.
“After coming to the game with my son for the past few years, he actually wants to enlist in the Navy as a Navy officer,” said Kidwell. “Experiencing this game first-hand, especially if you have never served, really leaves a lasting impression. The rivalry between the Army and the Navy is unlike any other rivalry in sports. Yeah, we want our respective teams to win, and it stings when our team loses, but we never tear each other down. Once the game is over, we feel good about ourselves.”
Ultimately, it was the Navy Midshipmen that came out on top 17-13, putting the all-time record of the contest to 62 wins, 53 losses, and seven ties in favor of the Navy Midshipmen. But wins and losses are only a small part of what makes the Army-Navy Game so special. For Michael Casciaro, it is what happens after the game that’s important.
“After the final whistle, the players realize that the battle is over,” said Casciaro. “Any bad blood between the services disappears. The Army and Navy they come together and support each other. That is what makes this game so special.”