How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Morale.

In the military, it’s what’s for dinner.


How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Cookie, your goulash fills me full of pep!

And for the military chef, the job is a lot more than just filling bellies with fighting fuel.

Cooking for the Armed Forces concerns the Art of Building Morale. And if an army marches on its’ stomach, then it follows that an Army chef operating at the highest level — who’s able to create culinary magic under the demands of budget, field deployment, and operational extremity — can have a huge individual impact on the health of the mission.

That holds true for every branch, in every situation, from boot camp to battlefield.

Searching for inspired military cooking and meeting the chefs responsible is the central mission of Go90’s series Meals Ready To Eat. And host August Dannehl, a Navy veteran and chef, has a nose for this type of story. For his first foray, he paid a visit to Fort Lee, Virginia to reconnoiter some of the U.S. Armed Forces’ top chefs, who’d gathered there for the annual Military Culinary Arts Competition and Training Event.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
In the thick of it: Military Culinary Arts Competition, Fort Lee, VA (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
There’s nothing like the smell of morale in the morning. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Modeled after the World Culinary Olympics and sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, the 40-year-old event is a bubbling cauldron of ideas, inspiration, and good old-fashioned inter-service rivalry. But at its heart, the event, like Dannehl’s series, seeks to champion the importance of culinary artistry to the overall operational effectiveness of the military.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

MIGHTY TRENDING

Wounded Marine vet Alex Minsky found a new life as an underwear model

Alex Minsky joined the Marine Corps with every intention of making a career out of it, but that plan was changed by an insurgent IED. Now he’s found a new life in the fast-paced world of male modeling.


Alex Minsky joined the Marine Corps right after high school, intending to stay in for the long haul. He’d spent most of his life as the troublemaker, but when that stopped at seventeen, he was left with little direction and no idea where to go from there.

When he entered, he had an inkling that he would be good at it. As infantry, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting the Taliban, but on his first deployment, his truck ran over an IED.

After time spent in a coma and losing his right leg, he woke up frustrated at the slowness of his recovery. He itched to get back into the fight, but doctors informed him that, due to severe brain trauma, that probably wasn’t an option. Without direction once again, he turned to alcohol.

After several DUIs, he was forced to get help. It was this period that showed him that when he was drinking, he was only running away—and he didn’t want to run away anymore.

He found that fitness was directly related to his sobriety, and his life only improved from there. He works as a fitness trainer and a male model, and since then he’s spent his career running toward things, instead of away.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

John Daniel was an Army infantryman who remembers his Iraq deployment as long, hard, and constantly on the move.


Though is unit suffered its share of casualties, miraculously there were no fatalities. So to celebrate a KIA-free deployment, he and his men snuck some bootleg hooch and had a toga party.

Daniel has many tattoos — from a Roman helmet atop modern combat boots to his staff sergeant’s favorite phrase “Pain and Repetition.” He points to the one on his shoulder with particular pride. It reads: “The Real 1%ers.”

“We’re the ones in America who will stand up to fight and defend our country,” Daniel explains.

Daniel’s story is part of a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.

Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

Military Life

4 reasons why showering on deployment is disgusting

Before deploying to a developing country, service members go through a variety of medical screenings and receive vaccinations to prepare their bodies for the microorganisms they’ll come in contact with while overseas. After we arrive at our destinations, it’s necessary to keep ourselves as clean as possible to prevent getting sick and developing skin infections.

Some troops have to rough it, rinsing off using bottles of water, showering under bladder systems, or wiping themselves down with baby wipes to keep clean. Others are lucky enough to have showers setup near their berthing areas.

At first glance, cleaning our ourselves with a handful of baby wipes might sound pretty bad compared to using community showers — but you might prefer those wipes after reading this.


How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Navy Seabees as they shower while stationed in the Pacific, WWII.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Senior Airman Dustyn White collects a water sample at the Lima Gate entry point at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. The water entering the base is tested for pH, chlorine, and fecal coliform.

(Photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)

Questioning the water source

The bacteria on our bodies like to grow and get smelly, making frequent showers an essential. However, the quality of that shower is dependent on the type of soap you use and the cleanliness of the water with which you rinse.

If there are showers set up in your FOB, be sure to look into how often the water is tested. Someone should be checking pH, chlorine, and fecal matter levels.

The baby-wipe option might actually be a healthier choice.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Always wear your shower shoes.

I’m standing in a puddle of… what?

Military showers are known for being use at high frequencies by service members who use the facility in a timely manner. As with any community-shower setup, not all the water goes down the drain immediately, and puddles being to build up.

As the next person in line, it’s pretty gross to have to step into a pool of murky, leftover water. You should be wearing shower shoes, but even then, puddles could’ve risen higher than your protective soles — and it might not be just water you’re dipping your toes in.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Open bay showers

The open bay shower has been around for decades and will be around for many more. This setup is ideal for rinsing off large crowds who need to freshen up. Unfortunately, getting sprinkled with water that’s splashing off of someone else’s dirty body can make you feel even nastier than before.

Cleanliness of the highly-used, private shower stalls

On deployment, the vast majority of the military community wakes up, shaves, and then takes a quick shower. Showering off in a private stall may feel a little closer to home, but it also might be a curse in disguise.

When you’ve been forward deployed for months, you’ve probably found yourself in some fairly filthy places. Once you return to the FOB, a hot shower sounds like a good idea before settling down. However, the private stalls are pretty small — there’s not much moving around in there. Be careful as you touch the walls and knots — they might not be sanitized as often as you’d hope.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge park finally announced opening date

Before Star Wars fans get to see the next huge installment of the mega-popular space fantasy franchise, everyone will have the opportunity to live in the dangerous galaxy, thanks to Disney’s much-anticipated Star Wars theme park.

In a press release on March 7, 2019, the company finally announced the opening dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — and it’s ahead of schedule. The 14-acre expansion will open on May 31, 2019, at Disneyland in California and on Aug. 29, 2019, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.


“On opening day for phase one, guests will be transported to the remote planet of Batuu, full of unique sights, sounds, smells, and tastes,” the release describes. “Guests can become part of the story as they sample galactic food and beverages, explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops, and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run.”

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Open May 31 at Disneyland Resort, Aug. 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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According to the statement, however, the park will open in phases “to allow guests to sooner enjoy the one-of-a-kind experiences that make Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge so spectacular.”

Phase two won’t open until later in 2019. It will feature the park’s largest attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, where guests will board a full-size starship and join the battle against the First Order, including a face-off with Kylo Ren.

To visit the Disneyland park between May 31 and June 23, 2019, Disney says that guests will not only need valid theme park admission but also a “no-cost reservation.” Details on how to make that reservation have not yet been released but will be posted on Disneyland.com. The park will then open to the general public on June 24, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

John Krasinski will make you forget all about the old Jack Ryan

Actor John Krasinski has been on a steady five-year come up. Even before acclaim was heaped onto both his acting and directorial performance in the 2017 horror movie A Quiet Place, Krasinski had successfully stepped out of the shadow of his more awkward and decidedly less muscular role as Jim Harper on The Office. Give him props, you can only count on one hand how many actors left The Office and convincingly did something that wasn’t comedic. Now Krasinski is doubling down on his newly badass vibes in the first trailer for his new show Jack Ryan where he plays the titular character.



Jack Ryan is set to debut on Amazon Prime and is yet another take on the character from author Tom Clancy’s classic spy novels. Though the character of Jack Ryan has been played by a bunch of actors— Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears; Alec Baldwin in The Hunt For Red October, and most notably Harrison Ford in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games— no one but Ford has ever mustered a performance that was compelling enough to warrant more than one shot at playing Ryan. Krasinski though, he might have what it takes.

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See, the cool thing about Krasinski as an actor sort of mirrors the cool thing about Jack Ryan as a character. Jack Ryan is an ex-soldier, yeah, but by profession, he’s an analyst— the guy who tries to dodge boring meetings, not bullets. But in the novels, Ryan is constantly thrust out of his comfort zone and forced to carry on like a spy, which, even for a soldier, is not remotely the same. HEll, in one of Clancy’s books Ryan even become president of the United States. The duality of Ryan as this brilliant desk jockey with a badass streak in him is what makes the character so good. Similarly, as an actor, Krasinski can be convincingly comical, normal-looking, and smart while also (per his performance in 13 Hours) having the ability to come off like he could kill you with a spork.

Similar to the Chris Pine and Ben Affleck entries into the Jack Ryan canon, the show for Amazon will be an origin story that shows Ryan make his first transition from behind his desk to behind enemy lines as a spy. Unlike other takes on the character though, this will be an episodic show which is good for Krasinski. Because it’s a show, he’ll have the space to come up short sometimes or not always hit the mark, but also to redeem himself episodes later. Movies are so much less forgiving in this regard, you just don’t get another chance at anything if it doesn’t work. Still, Krasinski has proven himself more versatile in the second act of his career, and Jack Ryan looks to be another exciting entry in it.

Jack Ryan debuts on Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 31, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Throughout military history, the gear our ground troops wear has depended on different aspects, for instance: the available technology, budget, and the weather (for the most part).


The needs of the mission and the environment determine what gear our infantrymen haul on their backs, around their waists, and even what they stuff into their many cargo pockets.

But the endgame of the mission always remains the same — win the war at all cost.

Related: These were the terrifying dangers of being a ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam

Today, the modern battlefield of Iraq and Afghanistan has prompted our military to change what our troops take with them. “SAPI” plates (Small Arms Protective Insert) were added to help protect the service members vital organs from small arms fire.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
All that gear adds up. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

Travel back in time where medieval Knights wore several layers and different types of heavy body armor to protect themselves from sharp swinging swords to the accurately shot arrows. These fearless men would spend countless hours training while cloaked in their protective garments, acclimating their bodies for war.

Fast forward to the rice patties of Vietnam where Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers bravely left the wire typically sporting only their thin layered green t-shirts due to the constant humidity of the jungle while still toting pounds of extras.

Also Read: That time American POWs refused a CIA rescue mission in Vietnam

One 155-pound TV show host wanted to experience just how heavy the gear of an American GI in Vietnam was. So after donning the full Vietnam War style combat load — complete with ammo, an M-16 rifle, an individual medical bag, and 2 quarts of water — the TV show host’s total weight amounted to just under 235 solid pounds of gear. It was an 80-pound difference.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to see this TV show host play grunt for an afternoon.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
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Why the Viet Cong’s tunnels were so effective

The communist forces of Vietnam were largely successful, and for a lot of reasons. They were willing to undergo extreme discomfort and suffer extreme losses for their cause, they were resourceful, and they became more disciplined and well-trained over time. But there was a nightmare infrastructure that they created that also led to success: Those terrifying tunnels.


The fighting in Vietnam dated back to the 1940s when corrupt democratic officials turned the population largely against it. Communist forces preyed upon this, rallying support from the local population and building a guerrilla army, recruiting heavily from farming villages.

The ruling democratic regime patrolled mostly on the large roads and through cities because their heavy vehicles had trouble penetrating the jungles or making it up mountains.

By the time the U.S. deployed troops to directly intervene, regime forces had been overrun in multiple locations and had a firm foothold across large patches of the jungle, hills, and villages.

Viet Cong Tunnels and Traps – Platoon: The True Story

And while U.S. forces were establishing a foothold and then hunting down Viet Cong elements, the Viet Cong were digging literally hundreds of miles of tunnels that they could use to safely store supplies, move across the battlefield in secret, and even stage ambushes against U.S. troops.

The original Viet Cong tunnels were dug just after World War II as Vietnamese fighters attempted to throw off French colonial authority. But the tunnel digging exploded when the U.S. arrived and implemented a heavy campaign of airstrikes, making underground tunnels a much safer way to travel.

And with the increased size of the tunnel network, new amenities were added. Kitchens, living quarters, even weapon factories and hospitals were moved underground. The Viet Cong now had entire underground cities with hidden entrances. When the infantry came knocking, the tunnels were a defender’s dream.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Wikimedia Commons

The tight tunnels limited the use of most American weapons. These things were often dug just tall and wide enough for Viet Cong fighters, generally smaller than the average U.S. infantryman, to crawl through. When corn-fed Nebraskans tried to crawl through it, they were typically limited to pistols and knives.

Even worse for the Americans, the Viet Cong were great at building traps across the battlefield and in the tunnels. Poisoned bamboo shoots, nails, razor blades, and explosives could all greet an attacker moving too brashly through the tunnel networks.

This led to the reluctant rise of the “Tunnel Rats,” American warfighters who specialized in the terrible tasks of moving through the underground bases, collecting intelligence and eliminating resistance. Between the claustrophobia and the physical dangers, this could drive the Tunnel Rats insane.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Wikimedia Commons

Once a tunnel was cleared, it could be eliminated with the use of fire or C4. Collapsing a tunnel did eliminate that problem, and it usually stayed closed.

But, again, there were hundreds of miles of tunnels, and most of them were nearly impossible to find. Meanwhile, many tunnel networks had hidden chambers and pathways within them. So, even if you found a tunnel network and began to destroy it, there was always a chance that you missed a branch or two and the insurgents will keep using the rest of it after you leave.

And the tunnels even existed near some major cities. Attacks on Saigon were launched from the Cu Chi Tunnels complex. When U.S. and South Vietnamese troops went to clear them, they faced all the typical traps as well as boxes of poisonous snakes and scorpions.

And the clearance operation wasn’t successful in finding and eliminating the bulk of the tunnels. The Cu Chi Tunnels were the ones used as staging points a weapons caches for the Tet Offensive.


Feature image: National Archives

MIGHTY MOVIES

Everything you need to know about Star Trek from Comic-Con 2020

Star Trek continues to expand its universe, giving its 2020 Comic-Con@Home panel much to explore. Here are the spoiler-free highlights:


Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3 | NYCC Teaser Trailer | CBS All Access

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1. Star Trek: Discovery returns Oct. 15

The cast of Discovery tuned in to perform a live read of the first act of Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 — the season 2 finale of the time-traveling, multiverse-exploring series. They then weighed in on where their characters left off at the end of season 2 and where they will begin in season 3, which will begin to air in October 2020.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – New Star Trek Series To Follow Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One

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2. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hints at the unknown

“We’re gonna get to work on a classic Star Trek show that deals with optimism and the future,” promised Strange New Worlds star Anson Mount, who will reprise his role as Captain Christopher Pike.

The Discovery spin-off leaves behind Pike, Ethan Peck’s Spock, and Rebecca Romijn’s Number One to share a new chapter in the Enterprise’s story.

With Pike having seen his future, Mount said that, “When you see how it’s all going to end, and it’s not so pretty, what do you do with that?” He continued, “How do you move forward? I think he’s probably going to wrestle with how he can best utilize the rest of his life for the good of the world, the universe.”

Star Trek: Lower Decks | Season 1 Official Trailer | CBS All Access

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3. Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres Aug. 6

Lower Decks is a new half-hour animated comedy series from Emmy Award winner Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty). It will focus on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos. Taking place in 2380, the show’s timeline rests “in the TNG era” between Star Trek: Nemesis and before Star Trek: Picard.

SDCC 2020 | Star Trek: Picard Panel | ComicCon@Home

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4. Star Trek: Picard

Speaking of which, the cast of Picard reunited digitally to talk about Jean-Luc Picard’s crew aboard the La Sirena. Reflecting on the show’s (critically acclaimed) first season, Sir Patrick Stewart shared the challenges of bringing the iconic character back to life. “It was at first very challenging, because thanks to our brilliant team of writers we are living in a very different world, a very complex world, a profoundly troubled world, which might just be appropriate for the time we’re living in.”

As for what will come next for Picard and his companions, series creators are remaining tight-lipped.


WATCH

This whiskey pays homage to the men of the 10th Mountain Division

Just a few miles south of Vail, Colorado, was the home the Army’s 10th mountain Division, where thousands of brave men trained tirelessly before heading off to fight the Germans in WWII.

Fast forward to modern day, the founders of a unique spirits company found a way to pay homage to those men who helped defeat the Nazis by handcrafting 10th Mountain Whiskey in their honor.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
These soldiers from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division take a moment for a quick photo op during their intense training before heading off to the front lines.

Founders Ryan Thompson and Christian Avignon are admirers of the famed unit. Avignon in particular has a special tie to the men that served in the 10th Mountain Division – he is the grandson of a medic who fought with 10th Mountain.

Related: This is the research and development that goes into producing MREs

After each drop of the tasty beverage is carefully brewed and bottled, it receives a unique addition — one of the 10th Mountain’s original slogans printed right onto the custom-made label.

The bottler then gives each bottle a dog tag, embedding a great personal story.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Each bottle comes with a slogan and a dog tag forever carrying a story.

Also Read: How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

So the next time you make a toast with a shot of 10th Mountain whiskey in your glass, remember to recite these meaningful words.

“From mountain to shining shore, by freedom they always swore, though death did not cheat them, they bestow us a freedom and a whiskey worth fighting for.”

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Cheers.

Check out We Are The Mighty’s original show Meals Ready to Eat above to watch these men brew that perfect whiskey shot in honor of the veterans who served in the 10th Mountain Division.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 most annoying assumptions female veterans absolutely hate

Let’s face it, with more women than ever serving in the military, not to mention in combat positions, there’s still a lack of acknowledgment for female veteran service (and quite often this comes from our own brothers-in-arms). Female veterans are in a unique position; the military tends to be associated with the high-and-tight haircut on, well, a man, but modern technology and shifting mindsets mean there are more women serving than ever before.


Still, we all look different, have different grooming habits while out of uniform, and remain subject to stereotypes.

Most of us still encounter the look of surprise when someone realizes we served. Usually, people thank us for our service or ask questions about military life, but inevitably, we also get judgment and assumptions. Here are a few of the worst:

4. Assuming a woman could never have been in the military based on her appearance

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Ask this Soldier if she’s weak. I dare you. (Images via Pin-Ups for Vets)

The problem female veterans face, during service and when they get out of the military, is that people automatically judge a woman based on appearance.

The reality is veterans come in all shapes, sizes, and genders, but when women decide to reclaim some femininity, they are looked down upon or disregarded as vets. It’s a lose-lose situation when lipstick and colored hair are equated with loss of veteran credibility.

3. Assuming anything about a woman’s mental health status based on gender or career field AFSC/MOS

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Women serving their country need the same support as men. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika)

We all know career fields in the military are not created equal as far as physical stress or deployment tempos go. People may assume that administrative careers in the military, and anything other than combat positions, don’t get exposed to trauma. This simply isn’t true. First of all, you don’t have to go beyond the wire to be attacked, but more importantly, trauma is experienced in many forms — a veteran’s experience is between them and their doctor.

Women of all career fields deploy, and many come home with PTSD from traumatic events they experience during their time overseas — just like men. According to the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20 of every 100 (or 20%) have been diagnosed with PTSD.”

What these numbers don’t reflect are the women who have not sought help and been diagnosed for their PTSD. Also, these are just the statistics for Iraq and Afghanistan — they don’t mention every other conflict that women served in. Women work, fight, come home, and live with what they experience, exactly like their male counterparts.

Furthermore, it doesn’t take a deployment to be affected by the life-and-death stress situations the military demands.

2. Assuming female veterans are lesbians

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Careful, your ignorance is showing.

Now, this is almost a joke to even mention because it seems so far-fetched, but it is more common than one would think! There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian or any other sexuality, for that matter, but for some reason, when women tell people that they are veterans, many are then met with assumptions about their sexual orientation. Well, I guess since it needs to be said: not all women who serve are attracted to other women.

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that military service and sexual orientation are unrelated. Yes, women who have served and are serving need to be able to throw femininity to the side regularly to get the job done, but that doesn’t mean sexuality changes as soon as it’s time to get our hands dirty.

Women can be feminine and brave at the same time, and neither of these things has to do with who they’re attracted to.

1. Assuming a woman is the spouse of a veteran and not a veteran herself

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Femininity does not equal weakness.

Statistically, this at least has a little merit. Nevertheless, showing up to a VA appointment and being asked, “Who’s your husband?” is frustrating. It doesn’t just happen at the VA, but also at Veteran Resource Centers, American Legions, and anywhere where there is an abundance of veterans present.

It might not seem like this is such a big deal, but the assumption behind the question is that women don’t serve in the military — or worse, that we can’t serve. Plus, it gets exhausting trying to explain why we joined and how we fared “in a man’s world.”

Bottom line: the military isn’t just a man’s world anymore.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here is how the Army-Navy game became so huge

The Army-Navy game is a big deal. That said, over the course of this 120-year rivalry, it’s been important for different reasons.


Through World War II, Army and Navy were two college-football powerhouses, able to hold their own against the likes of Rutgers and Norte Dame. Both Army and Navy have won National Championships, but that hasn’t happened for either team since 1946 and 1926, respectively. Currently, across the 117 meetings of these two teams, Navy leads the series 60-50-7, thanks, in part, to a 14-year winning streak that ended with Army’s 21-17 win in 2016.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
A play from scrimmage during the 2002 Army-Navy game. Navy won, 58-12, after an incident where Army cadets stole the Navy’s mascot. (US Navy photo)

Times have changed: Today, Army and Navy aren’t regular contenders for the national championship. But even if these teams aren’t competing for a national title, the Army-Navy game, which has been played routinely since 1890, is still a big deal. In fact, it’s the only game played the weekend after conference championships.

Why is this game so fervently followed? There are a number of reasons outside of exciting football, two of which are unique to this match-up. First, while many Division-I college players eye professional football after graduation, those going to military academies are to fulfill a five-year service obligation. The fact is that most professional teams selecting players in the seven-round NFL draft don’t have the luxury of waiting for that service obligation to end.

Although this hasn’t stopped some of the greats in the past, including Roger Staubach, Phil McConkey, and Joe Cardona, it’s not very likely today. That means that the men on the field are playing purely for the love of the sport, not for a contract down the line.

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food
Dallas Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, who threw 153 TDs in a career that began after service in the United States Navy. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Second, what sets the Army-Navy game apart from other college football matches is the fact that the players in this game, at some point in the next four years, will be defending our country. Each year, first-class cadets and midshipmen storm Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, ready and willing to play for pride, while they’re just months away from joining a military still fighting a global war on terror.

All will serve bravely and, unfortunately, some of them may even make the ultimate sacrifice. In July 2010, former Army quarterback Chase Prasnicki was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. The Army-Navy game is just as much a celebration of the brave, young service members that defend our home as it is a celebration of sport. That is why the Army-Navy game is such a big deal.

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