The 'Prisoner Exchange' is the coolest Army-Navy tradition no one talks about

Imagine a Michigan student spending a semester at Ohio State. Or a UT student going to Oklahoma University. Getting sent to a rival should would be intense – and that’s exactly what Army and Navy have been doing for decades.

Every year, juniors at West Point and the Naval Academy switch places, spending an entire semester in enemy territory. Before they go back to their respective institutions, they go through the “prisoner exchange” at the annual Army-Navy Game.

 

(The U.S. Army | YouTube)

 
The West Point Cadets attend Navy classes with their midshipmen rivals. They live in “berthings,” probably call walls “bulkheads,” call floors “decks,” and ask permission to use the “head.”

Rivalries exist between all branches of the military – and college students are no different. The Army-Navy rivalry is so intense because it’s so old, but like all those other rivalries, it’s all in good fun. At the end of the day, the Cadets and Mids are still U.S. troops and we all fight on the same team.

That doesn’t mean they don’t get to have fun. The “Prisoner Exchange” is a time-honored tradition – one of many.

As for the differences between the academies, Cadet Tyrus Jones said it’s all about academy culture.

“Life is different because everything is centered around the Navy,” Jones told Army Public Affairs. “It’s a little bit of a different lifestyle and culture between the two services. It has to do with our history and how it’s evolved over the years.”

Prisoner Exchange

Mids and Cadets are “exchanged” at the 50-yard line of the 2014 Army-Navy Game.

“Cadets commonly refer to us through various names such as ‘Chief,’ ‘Squid,’ ‘Squidward,’ and ‘Middie,’ but we have come to consider them terms of endearment,” Midshipman Benjamin Huggins said to West Point’s official Public Affairs office.

After the Cadets and Mids are marched across the field, they go back to being part of one of the biggest rivalries in football, in the military, and in America.