“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
Feature image: West Point’s uniforms for last Saturday’s 2018 Army-Navy football game were a tribute to the “Big RedOne,” the Army’s First Division, which helped turn the tide during World War I. Image courtesy U.S. Military Academy. Image and article accessed at businessinsider.com 10 December 2018.
“The Army and the Navy are the best of friends in the world 364-1/2 days a year, but on one Saturday afternoon, we’re the worst of enemies.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The 1942 Army-Navy game was played in Annapolis rather than Philadelphia due to the travel restrictions. Third- and Fourth-year Navy midshipmen were ordered to sit behind the Army bench and cheer for the opposing team in place of West Point cadets who couldn’t attend. Nimitz Library Digital Collections. Sally Mott Freeman. The Strangest Army-Navy Game Ever Played? 63(1) American Heritage (2018). Accessed online 10 December 2018. https://americannotice.home.blog/2018/07/08/the-strangest-army-navy-game-ever-played-by-sally-mott-freeman/
Memorial plaques to West Point graduates killed in action. Cullum Hall, U.S. Military Academy
“There’s always something special when the service academies play each other that’s not in any other game. This is not a regular game and everyone involved knows it.”
Roger Staubach, Heisman Trophy Winner, Navy quarterback, Vietnam veteran, and Dallas Cowboy
The title of this blogpost comes from a new essay by Gavin Jernigan, [who] “was a member of the Navy Football team from 2012-2016. He graduated from Annapolis in 2016 and commissioned as a Marine Corps Aviator.” The following excerpt is from his essay, “Army-Navy Football: What the game means to America”:
The players of both sides of the ball demonstrate a quality that is slowly slipping as a primary characteristic of our country: sacrifice. Every single Midshipmen or Cadet playing in the game could have played football at another college and had even the slightest chance to play in the NFL. With incredible academic requirements to be accepted to and graduate from a service academy like West Point or Annapolis, any of these players could have earned academic scholarships at other schools and found a great job outside of the military after college. Instead, their 17-year old self made the biggest decision of their life to attend a service academy and serve their country.
These young men forego the stereotypical college life in order to study hard, learn their profession, and prepare themselves to lead young men and women in the military. All this is done for love of country.
Following graduation, the Cadets of Army West Point will commission as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army. For the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy, they will either commission as Second Lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps or as Ensigns in the United States Navy. Both service requirements last a minimum of five years.
During these five years, many of them will be sent to every corner of the world, away from their friends and family, to spread peace on behalf of American diplomacy. Today they play a football game in front of millions. Tomorrow, they stand in front of citizens of countries around the globe representing the United States of America.
The USNA Virtual Memorial Hall exists to perpetuate the memory of alumni of the United States Naval Academy who have died in service to their country. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
Following is excerpted from the Capt. Elizabeth Kealey’s obituary at the U.S. Naval Academy Virtual Memorial Hall (Even though Capt. Kealey did not play in any of the Army Navy games during her tenure at Annapolis, she’s featured here because what Gavin Jernigan – a fellow Marine aviator – writes applies to men as well as women who attend the U.S. military service academies).
When Marine Capt. Elizabeth Kealey returned from a deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, she showed her mom, Chris Kealey-Thompson, photographs of her helicopter covered in bullet holes.
“She was like, ’No big deal, Mom,’” said Ms. Kealey-Thompson of Salisbury, N.C.
That probably really was no big deal for a young woman who wanted to pursue only the toughest challenges life could toss her way. The mentality that drove her decisions, according to her mom, was, “I’m going to go into the Marines because that’s the hardest branch of the military, and I’m going to fly helicopters because that’s the hardest thing to do.”
Capt. Kealey, 32, originally of Indiana, Pa., died Friday in California from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash while conducting routine flight operations at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
She anticipated resigning her commission after 10 years in the military in the summer, after which she wanted to go to graduate school and become a physics teacher.
The nonchalant attitude regarding her heroic actions came from her late father, Walter, who finished his military career as an Army colonel and then worked as a liaison officer for the U.S. Military Academy. Ms. Kealey-Thompson said the pair agreed that as a member of the armed forces, “You do your job, you do it well, and you don’t brag about it.”
Lieutenant Michael M. McGreevy graduated from the Naval Academy and went on to become members of the SEALs, one of the elite fighting forces in the world.
Lieutenant McGreevy, who was the Naval Academy class of 1997’s secretary, not only was popular, but also displayed scholarly aptitude, friends said. While in high school in Portville, New York, Lieutenant McGreevy wanted to take state Regents exam in German – only his school didn’t offer the language. He bought German books and taught himself so well, he passed the exam.
Gary Swetland, Lieutenant McGreevy’s former high school track coach, recalled the young man as one of the most determined people he ever met. He said Lieutenant McGreevy would run more than 3 miles to school each morning, to be there by 6 a.m. so that he could get in a session of strength building before classes started.
“He grew from a thin-as-a-rail, somewhat awkward teen, to an absolute physical stud of a man,” said Mr. Swetland, who kept in touch with McGreevy and attended his graduation from the Naval Academy. “You felt compelled to stand and salute” when he entered a room, Mr. Swetland said.
Military friends of McGreevy described him as the embodiment of American ideals. “Hold him up as high as you can – he was a great American and a great person,” said Marine Captain Aaron Shelley of San Diego, California, McGreevy’s friend and freshman year roommate at the academy. “He did well in everything I saw him do – at the same time, he was very, very humble about it and was always ready to help others.”
McGreevy finished first in his SEAL class.
He had been in Afghanistan since early April and is survived by his wife, Laura, and 14-month-old daughter, Molly, his mother Patricia Mackin and father Michael McGreevy Sr.
“He died doing what he always wanted to do,” said former Marine Captain. Thomas Wagner, McGreevy’s classmate at the academy and the president of the Class of 1997.
Killed in the same combat operation with Lt. McGreevy were the following soldiers and sailors:
Staff Sergeant Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.
Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minnesota.
Sergeant Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Florida
Sergeant First Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Indiana
Master Sergeant James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tennessee
Major Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Connecticut
Sergeant First Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Virginia
Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Florida.
All of these soldiers were assigned to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia
Sailors killed were:
Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, Louisiana
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, New Hampshire
Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, California
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Oregon
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nevada
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, West Virginia
A Department of Defense press release explains that “[a]ll 16 were killed while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province on June 28, 2005.”
U. S. Naval Academy Virtual Memorial Hall:
“The USNA Virtual Memorial Hall exists to perpetuate the memory of
alumni of the United States Naval Academy who have died in service to
their country. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address,
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the
unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased
devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of
Feature image accompanies article by Greg Bruno: War’s Grim Reality Hits West Point. Times Herald-Record recordonline.com 7 January 2007
Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that. http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam