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Army Captain Roots for Navy in 105th Meeting Dec. 4

By Sgt. John Queen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATNG BASE UNION I, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2004 – Take a look at any brigade headquarters company in the Army and chances are you'll find it's staffed with a number of officers that graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
As the Dec. 4 Army-Navy game draws near, Capt. Sam Chanoski, Capt. Alan Boyer and Capt. Larry Edell, all graduates of U.S. military service academies, are getting pumped up to take the bragging rights that go with the Commander's Cup Trophy, going to the game's winner this year. The game will be the 105th meeting between West Point and Annapolis, in what is considered one of the nation's most enduring rivalries in college football. Photo by Sgt. John Queen, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

A closer observation of Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in Iraq, finds something a little different mixed in with its U.S. Military Academy alumni: graduates of the U.S. Air Force and Naval academies.

Army Capts. Larry Edell and Sam Chanoski both transferred their commissions upon graduation from their respective academies to join the Army.

"I originally wanted to go Air Force," said Chanoski, a liaison officer for the 3rd BCT and a 1999 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I did some researching on West Point too, because I thought the Army was cool. I really didn't know anything about West Point other than they wore those little monkey uniforms."

Chanoski applied and was accepted to both West Point and the Air Force Academy. "I didn't even consider the Navy, because I really don't like boats and the water," he said. "It almost down came down to the toss of a coin between the Air Force and West Point.

"I ended up going to the Air Force because from what I knew as a 16-year-old high school kid, they had a much better practical-education program than West Point, and that's what I thought I was interested in at the time."

Edell, the brigade's trial counsel also said his original goal was to attend the Air Force Academy. But his parents encouraged him to apply to the Naval Academy and West Point too, he recalled. "I figured I might change my mind, so I visited all three academies to see."

Edell decided to apply at West Point and Annapolis instead of the Air Force Academy. But because of a medical condition, he was accepted only to the Naval Academy.

"When I found out I could still get commissioned in the Army when I graduated from Annapolis, I transferred my commission," Edell said. "It seemed like the natural thing to do. I'm an Army brat, and I had a lot of good experiences growing up with the Army."

Chanoski said his switch to the Army was an easy decision as well. "I knew I couldn't fly or be a navigator because my eyes were too bad," he noted. "When I joined the military, I wanted to be on the pointed end of the spear. I filled out the paperwork for a transfer, showed up at Fort Benning, Ga., a few months later and never looked back."

Though most of their peers think they went to West Point or attended a ROTC program in college, some find out about Edell and Chanoski's military beginnings, razzing them with playful taunts by calling them "zoomy" or "squid."

The pair just passes those taunting them off as "dumb grunts."

As the 105th Army-Navy Game draws near on Dec. 4, school and service rivalries ignite for the service-academy grads in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

"It's not always pretty, and it's not the best college football game out there," Edell said. "[But] it does represent a bunch of people playing with all their heart and giving it all they can."

"The thing about the Army-Navy game is records don't matter," adds Capt. Alan Boyer, brigade assistant operations officer and a 1996 West Point graduate. "It's such a great game. It's the best college rivalry in football, ... football in general. You never know who's going to win."

One thing sticks in Edell's mind when he reflects back on his days at the Naval Academy: sitting in the stands and watching Army beat Navy.

"I'm a graduate of the class of 1996 also," Edell said. "We lost the Army-Navy game all four years I was there. It still sticks in my gut."

Navy has done better this year because of their new coach, Boyer said. But he and Edell agree: You never know with this game.

"You just never know what's going to happen," Boyer said. "My class went 4-and- 0. Two of them were one-point games, won on the last play of the game."

"Or lost," Edell chimed in.

Although Edell has been in the Army for eight years, he said he still bleeds blue and gold for his Annapolis alma mater. "I still root for Navy, much to the dismay (of my colleagues)," Edell said.

Chanoski said the story is the same for him. When Air Force plays Army, he roots for Air Force. "In most previous years it didn't make a difference, Air Force would walk all over them." Chanoski said, "unfortunately, not this year."

If Navy wins this year, Edell said he plans on doing a lot bragging. "If they lose, I'll be laying low," he said. "I'm kind of outnumbered here."

(Army Sgt. John Queen is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.)

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Related Sites:
1st Cavalry Division
U.S. Military Academy
U.S. Naval Academy
U.S. Air Force Academy


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