The army cadets tried to get the sea goat again. The commanders were not amused.
Under cover of darkness over the weekend, army cadets from the United States Military Academy in West Point slipped into a secret compound, on a mission so dear to the corps ‘she has survived generations of evolving warfare and official rebuke: stealing Bill the Goat.
The goat is the mascot of the Naval Academy, the 37th in the line of goats of various breeds to hold this distinction. All 37 were named Bill, and over the past 70 years Army Cadets have robbed Bill at least 10 times, starting in 1953 with a plan that involved a convertible and chloroform.
Midshipmen also grabbed the army mule mascots. And the Air Force Academy cadets did a few heists.
Pranks, euphemistically called Spiritual Missions, are usually scheduled to precede the annual Army-Navy football game, where mascots from both sides are expected to appear.
Officially, mascot theft is banned by a formal high-level agreement signed in 1992, after midshipmen cut phone lines and tied up six military workers while stealing West Point mules. But pranks are so deeply rooted in the tradition of inter-departmental rivalry that school leaders have never been able to root them out. And in private, military leaders who sometimes ban missions also laughed for joy.
Sometimes the thefts are elaborate and executed in dazzling fashion, with teams of commandos with blackened faces and decoys sent in to distract the guards. A heist was so stealthy it was not resolved until the cadets ran an ad in the New York Times that read, “Hey Navy, do you know where your ‘kid’ is today? The Body does it.
Others were little more than hand-to-hand brawls, including a scrimmage in a stadium parking lot in 2015 that landed Bill 35 in a veterinary clinic for a week.
This weekend’s effort was more of an embarrassment at the Bay of Pigs. West Point raiders recognized a private farm near Annapolis, Md., And tried to sneak up to the enclosure where the goat’s current mascot, a young angora with curly white wool, was grazed. with others, including at least one retired Bill.
The noisy assault team, however, scared the goats into a race, and when the groping cadets gave the chase, they managed to catch only one goat – and not the correct one. After a four-hour return to West Point, they unveiled not Bill 37 but Bill 34, a 14-year-old arthritic retiree with only one horn, according to a joint statement released by the army and navy in response to questions from the New York Times.
The usual post-raid jubilation was decidedly stifled.
Word quickly spread among the students, but the two service academies tried to keep the incident silent. While many military leaders privately admire the ingenuity and determination it takes to brush off a mascot, they don’t like how it looks in public, especially when animals are injured.
In 2018, an endangered gyrfalcon named Aurora was the Air Force Academy mascot. When the army cadets pushed her into a dog crate, she fluttered bloody wings trying to escape, seriously injuring herself.
Bill 34 was made safe and sound on Monday, according to the military. A veterinarian who examined the goat said he was in good health, an army worker said.
The superintendents of the two academies – Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams and Vice Admiral Sean Buck – said Monday evening in a joint statement that the theft of animals was prohibited and that they were investigating the raid.
They said they were “disappointed with the trust that has been broken recently between our brothers and sisters in arms”, and added: “These actions do not reflect the core values of dignity and respect for one or the other. the other from the academy “.