Army, Navy pep bands, cheerleaders make the rounds at Pentagon
ARLINGTON, Va. — The halls of the Pentagon rattled and rocked Friday morning as the entire U.S. Military Academy pep band, complete with cheerleaders, made their annual pre-game visit to whip up spirit for the Army-Navy football game.
Heads popped out of offices and workers lined the stairwells to watch as the West Point cadets played, cheered and bounced up and down staircases and corridors in their battle-dress uniform trousers and boots.
Pep rallies for the Army and Navy teams are an annual tradition at the Pentagon in the week before the game, led by pep bands from West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
Separate days are reserved for each service. This year, the midshipmen made the rounds on Wednesday, and the cadets on Friday.
The bands make stops at the offices of not only their own senior leaders, but their rival service’s, too.
One of the cadets’ first stops Friday was the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations.
Mullen emerged holding up a “Go Army” button, acquired, he told the cadets, while attending his first Army-Navy game in 1964.
Mullen said he was puzzled by the button’s lettering.
“It doesn’t have an English definition for me,” he teased.
On a more serious note, Mullen told the West Pointers, “We’re delighted to have you here and very, very thankful you chose to do this with your lives.
“Although tomorrow, I do hope we beat you badly,” he added, to friendly jeers from the cadets.
The pregame festivities offer the usually buttoned-down Pentagon crowd a chance to have some fun and adorn their offices and clothing with signs and buttons boosting their team.
Even senior officers got into the spirit, such as Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who came to work Friday morning wearing a black-and-gold football jersey.
Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice-chief of staff, also delighted the West Point band by peeling off his battle-dress uniform blouse to reveal a Black Knights game T-shirt topped by traffic-stopping yellow “Go Army” suspenders.
With the record tied at 49 games each, the 2005 rivalry between the two teams is particularly hot this year, Pentagon fans said.
“There’s always something about the Army-Navy game,” Cody said. “But I think this year, because we’re tied and because we’re still at war, it’s really special.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of Americans tuning in to see these Cadets and Midshipmen play.”