Mock mule-napping gets cadets fired up

November 29, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

Army cadets reportedly stole and returned Navy's three goat mascots - Bill XXXII, Bill XXXIII and Bill XXXIV - in a maneuver called "Operation Good Shepherd" this month.

You can see film of the action on YouTube.

So what happened yesterday?

"Just a little pep rally," Army spokesman Frank DeMaro said.

Military Academy cadets staged "Goat Buster Spirit Mission" at West Point in anticipation of Saturday's Army-Navy game at M&T Bank Stadium.

You can see a photo of that on the United States Military Academy at West Point site.

It was just a little maneuver that demonstrated what would happen if any Navy personnel tried to kidnap one of Army's mules - Raider, General Scott or Ranger II - or even their human, mule-costumed mascot, Black Jack.

"We had a mock bunch of Navy cadets steal Black Jack," DeMaro said. "They held Black Jack captive, and we sent in Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters with blank ammunition and attacked the midshipmen."

Led by two brigadier generals, the commandant of cadets and the dean of the academic board, the mission - as might be imagined - was successful. Black Jack was returned.

"I don't know about that," DeMaro said when asked whether the episode was preparation for a possible counterattack by Navy. The maneuver "was staged to get the cadets fired up for the coming game. It would be very difficult for the Navy to steal our mules, though that's not to say they haven't in the past. But we keep them on campus, and Navy would have to go through our security to get to them.

"And mules are bigger and harder to steal than goats."

The mule has been the Army mascot since 1899, when, according to a photo in the campus museum, a mule met the Navy goat at halftime of the game and intimidated it. The photographer caught the mule rearing on its back legs and the goat backing up.

"But as far as that incident with the kidnapping of Navy's goats," DeMaro said, "we didn't even know it happened - if it did."

DeMaro said Navy will get its chance to see the Army mules Saturday when Raider and General Scott arrive at the game.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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