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West Point Cadets Fail to Get Navy's Goat

They made off with retired Navy mascot instead of the current Bill
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2021 7:58 PM CST
West Point Pranksters Stole the Wrong Goat
Bill the Goat XXXVII, right, stands with Bill The Goat XXXVI and handlers on the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Navy and South Florida, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Annapolis.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(Newser) – A top-secret mission involving West Point cadets went wrong over the weekend when they kidnapped the wrong goat. In what Dave Philipps at the New York Times calls a "Bay of Pigs-style embarrassment," US Military Academy cadets trying to carry on the long, but officially banned, tradition of mascot-napping ahead of the Army-Navy game raided a Maryland farm late at night and tried to kidnap Naval Academy mascot Bill the goat. But the raiders spooked a group of ghosts in the paddock and ended up not grabbing the current Bill, the 37th goat to serve as mascot, but Bill No. 34, described by Philipps as an "arthritic, 14-year-old retiree with only one horn."

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At least 10 Bills have been stolen since Army cadets chloroformed the Navy mascot a week before the Army-Navy game in 1953, but officials from both academies banned the "kidnapping of cadets, midshipmen and mascots" in 1992 after Naval Academy midshipmen tied up six Army employees during their only successful kidnap of West Point's mule mascots, Military.com reports. Philipps notes, however, that military officials still privately "chuckle with glee" at mascot heists. This year's Army-Navy game is on Dec. 11.

West Point officials declined to confirm details of the incident, but they said the goat was returned safely, the AP reports. The leaders of both academies issued a joint statement and said the breach of the 1992 agreement would be investigated. "The US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy are disappointed by the trust that was broken recently between our brothers and sisters in arms," superintendents Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams and Vice Adm. Sean Buck said. "These actions do not reflect either academy’s core values of dignity and respect." (Read more West Point stories.)

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