Bill the Goat, Navy Academy's live mascot, lives on a secret farm with other mascots retired or in training. A team of aspirants assists him on football matchdays with deep brushing and sticks his blue and golden horns. He struts around the sideline, wearing a Navy emblem jacket, attracting his own celebrity.
It is also the subject of occasional removal plots.
Before the Army and Navy confronted each other for the 119th time on Saturday, goat mascot safety has been strengthened every year. Bill (the official mascot is Bill XXVII but is joined by Bill XXXVI) has been kidnapped several times since 1953, mostly by the Army, but also by the Air Force, from Maryland , Johns Hopkins, Columbia and St. John's.
Mississippi students tried to steal the goat before the 1955 Sugar Bowl, but were thwarted by "navy information," the New York Times reported at the time. The Navy brought Bill to the party and borrowed two goats at the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans. The aspirants dressed each goat as the official bill, but placed extra security around one in particular. The Mississippi students went after this goat, which was actually a lure. Bill enjoyed the game on the sidelines of the Navy undisturbed.
Navy goats no longer reside in Gambrills – officials in Annapolis will not say where Bill calls home today – and service academies have a formal truce against mascot theft. Administrators warn students, "Any joke involving live animals, including official school mascots, is strictly prohibited."
Army cadets attempted to steal Aurora, the Air Force Falcon, prior to their annual meeting in November, but wounded the bird after placing it in a dog crate. The hawk is never caged, even during transport, and panicked in a confined space, flapping its wings until they are bloodied. She has fully recovered since returning to the Colorado Springs campus.
Still, the Navy is improving Bill's watch as the match approaches, now an annual precaution.
"We regularly review our security position in relation to the anticipated threat, and this posture also applies to goats," said a spokeswoman for the academy. "The threat to goats increases dramatically with the birth of football between the army and the navy, so goat safety is increasing."
But the specificities of this security posture? The navy will not talk about that. Presumably, the academy protects against:
- Infiltration by students in exchange for the US military academy. A cadet spending the fall semester in Annapolis would have helped his comrades to smuggle a ship to the Naval Academy and bring the goat back to water in 1953, according to the New York Times. Bill was sent back to a Navy PEP rally before the match. Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, director of the academy, denied the abduction of the mascot and insisted that the goat go to the US military academy "as a guide for a" pathetic "group of cadets from the Army, "the Times reported. Bill slept in a dormitory instead of his usual pen in the stadium before the match.
- Chloroform. The attackers at the US Military Academy in 1953 used the substance to calm the goat and put it in the back of a car.
- University-aged women asking for directions. During a 1965 robbery, a small team of Army Cadets crossed two barbed wire barriers when a car filled with girlfriends stopped and asked the guards of the Navy gave them instructions while crying that they had been standing on blind dates, Tom Carhart. a military historian and West Point graduate, told the Times. "The guards never turned around," he said. "They were watching the girls."
- Foreigners disguised. Maryland students dressed in Navy White left the campus with the goat in broad daylight in 1964, according to Sports Illustrated.
- Brute force. Cadets rushed to Team Bill, the goat handlers, during a kidnapping attempt in 2015. The candidates pushed the assailants away, but the roar left Bill to require veterinary care for a week, according to the Times. .
The navy, for its part, did not take these offensives ashore. He has a history of kidnapping army mule mascots. During a raid in 1991, 17 aspirants, two naval advisers and a farmer from the Annapolis area infiltrated the campus of the US Military Academy dressed in military police and were put the cadets to the rope and the gags, leaving with four mules.
The mission, dubbed "Operation Missing Mascot", was completed when the candidates mounted the mules on the field before the football match. The navy beat the army that day, 24 hours a day, at the Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It was the only win of the season.
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