1954 Michigan Trip

Army 26 - Michigan 7

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Todd Graham remembers:

We rode out on the NY Central, marched into the stadium which later filled to 97-thousand or so. That nite late we walked and crawled back to the train station and returned to West Point.

Army won 26-7 and Michigan was no easy team (per Ski Ordway), going on to win the Big 10 and going to the Rose Bowl. Pete Vann had a great day and Tommy Bell and Ski and all the rest. That might have been one of our best wins after Duke.

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Walt Landers remembers:

I must reminiscence about our trip to Ann Arbor so many years ago for that Michigan game. For some reason it has been one of my fond recollections of the many during our days at The Rock. Here are a few anecdotes that I extract from memory of those great days when we were so young.

The University of Michigan paid for our First Class to travel out there by train to sleep during the trip and be fed Pullman style en route. This was a big treat for us. We were instructed to bring along our gray blanket so that we could sleep in our seats. My L-2 company mate, Bob Doerr, who was something of an independent soul throughout his life, brought his B-Robe instead. When questioned he said that it was just like a folded up gray blanket, so why not. Anyway we embarked upon this most welcome sojourn away from the confines that we well knew after the years that we had spent in that Spartan existence.

The first morning on the train I arose later than most having the opportunity for some welcome extra minutes of sack time. I went to the dining car hoping for some breakfast. In the deserted car sat Gil Batchman alone. I said, "Hi Gil," and sat down with him at his table. We were served by a somewhat embarrassed black man who made sure that he treated Gil with respect and served him first. I in my innocence I did not realize until later years the import of what was transpiring during what to me was a nice breakfast.

We arrived in Ann Arbor and marched in formation go to the game. I recall a comment that we overheard from one of the students that we marched so well, but were talking to each other constantly as we marched. Another incident that transpired was that during some free moments there was time for some guys to use the student laundry to wash and dry their T-shirts etc. A student paid for the laundry tab. One of our guys was surprised at his generosity and said, "If that was a bunch of cadets they would all be figuring that each owed each other 33 cents."

So, we went to the game. After marching onto the field which was the reason they brought us there in the first place, we ascended into the stands, and as had become our custom stood throughout the game. One of the unfortunate patrons behind us complained, but her escort said to forget it, they are not going to sit down.

The game proceeded. As one of my L-2 compadres, a football player who was a cow at the time later related, "We came out on the field for the warm up. We were at one end and they were at the other. Once in a while one of their balls would roll down our way and they would condescend to let us peons throw it back.

Ihen the game started. We hit them right between the eyes from the start and never let up."

We in the stands of that huge stadium were overwhelmed by the screams of that gigantic crowd. But as the game progressed our little group of classmates out yelled them. In the end Army kicked Michigan's behind. Toward the end of the game a somewhat chastened announcer said over the speakers that all of the Cadets were invited to all the post-game fraternity and sorority parties that evening. We of course all said, "Hot Dog."

We went. Bob Doerr and I proceeded to one of the sororities where we encountered two very nice young ladies who agreed to accompany us on the rounds of the various fraternity parties, to which we duly embarked. We made the rounds to much gaiety at all the houses, except Sigma Chi who acted as the horse's asses that they have come to be known as. The evening waned and we had to retire to our train back to The Rock. We said our goodbyes to the nice young ladies in whatever shadows were available. Bob, the sentimental soul, claimed that he had fallen in love and later invited his lady to a West Point weekend. Unfortunately he was in con that weekend, but that's another story.

Oddly over the years one of my recurrent dreams was of a four corner crossroads upon which sat a fraternity house at each corner. I thought that I just made that up in my fevered mind until once a few years back I visited Ann Arbor on a business trip. As I went around the campus there stood the four corners each with its fraternity hose. The subconscious is an astonishing place.

That aside, the trip to Ann Arbor is one of my more pleasant Cadet memories.

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George Kennebeck remembers:

As many of you do--I remember that game. I remember that as the game progressed they kept hauling the Michigan players off the field in stretchers!! The Army team was in much better physical shape. The one thing that really sticks in my mind is the great way we were all treated by the students as they invited us to their after game parties!! They were real good sports.

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