Bill the Goat, the live mascot of the Naval Academy, lives on a top-secret farm with other retired or training mascots. A team of ensign leads him dressed up on the days of the soccer game with careful brushing, and notes his blue and gold horns. He heads to the side line wearing a jacket with the Navy emblem, attracting his celebrity following.
It is also subject to occasional plots of abductions.
Before the army and the navy were placed for the 119th time on Saturday, the safety of the goat mascots received its annual momentum. Bill (the official mascot is Bill XXVII but is flanked by Bill XXXVI) has been abducted several times since 1953, mainly by the army, but also by Air Force, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and St. John & # 39 ; s College.
The Mississippi students tried to steal the goat before the 1955 Sugar Bowl, but they were thwarted by "naval intelligence," reported the New York Times. The Navy took Bill to the game and borrowed two goats from the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans. The midshipmen dressed each goat as the official Bill, but placed extra security around one in particular. The Mississippi students pursued that goat, which was actually a bait. Bill enjoyed the game on the Marina sideline undisturbed.
The most recent kidnapping occurred in 2012, when Bill was taken from a farm in Gambrills and found days later tied to a road sign on a grassy median on the Army-Navy Drive in Crystal City.
The Navy goats no longer reside in Gambrills – Annapolis officials will not say where Bill calls home today – and the service academies have a formal truce against the theft of the mascot. Administrators warn students: "Any joke involving live animals, including official school mascots, is strictly prohibited."
The army cadets tried to steal Aurora, the hawk of the Air Force, in view of their annual meeting in November, but they injured the bird after putting it in a dog crate. The falcon is never caged, not even during transport, and has been panicked in the confined space, flapping its wings until they have been bloodied. He made a full recovery since he returned to the Colorado Springs campus.
Still, Navy is raising the clock on Bill as the game approaches, now an annual precaution.
"We regularly review our security position commensurate with the expected threat, and this position also applies to goats," said an academy spokesperson. "The threat posed for goats increases considerably with the approach of naval armies and therefore the safety of goats increases".
But the details of that security posture? The navy will not talk about it. Presumably, the academy protects against:
- Infiltration by students of US academic exchanges. A cadet who spent the fall semester in Annapolis would help classmates to clandestinely dock at a naval academy and imprison the goat in 1953, according to the New York Times. Bill was returned to a gathering of Navy bullets before the match. Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, superintendent of the academy, denied that the mascot had been kidnapped and insisted that the goat go to the US Military Academy "as a guide to a" pathetic "group of cadets of the army, "the Times reported. Bill slept in a dorm instead of his usual pen at the stadium that led to the game.
- Chloroform. The marauders of the 1953 Military Academy used the substance to tame the goat and put it in the backseat of a car.
- Women of university age who ask for directions. During a robbery of 1965, a small team of army cadets passed two barbed wire fences when a car full of their girlfriends stopped and asked the marine guards to ask for directions while they cried that they had stood up In the dark, Tom Carhart, a military historian and a graduate in West Point, told the Times. "The guards never turned," he said. "They were watching the girls."
- Outsider in disguise. Maryland students dressed in navy blue came out of campus with the goat in broad daylight in 1964, according to Sports Illustrated.
- Brute force. The cadets sank Team Bill, the goat leaders, during a kidnapping attempt in 2015. The ensign rejected the attackers, but the crisis left Bill in need of veterinary care for a week, according to the Times.
The navy, for its part, did not take these offensive lying down. It has a history of abduction of mascots of the army. During a raid in 1991, 17 coast guards, two sailors and a farmer from the Annapolis area infiltrated the campus of the American Academy of the United States dressed as military police and subdued Cadets with rope and gag while driving with four mules.
The mission, called Operation Missing Mascot, ended when the midshipmen rode the mules on the field before the football game. Navy was beating the army that day, 24-3, at the Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It was the only victory of the season by the observer.
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