A Navy prank at the Pentagon that could never be pulled off today

DF-ST-87-06962 The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1980 two Navy cadets pulled off the biggest prank in the history of Army-Navy game rivalry.

These cadets were able to infiltrate the home of the “top most military secrets in the world.”  According to one cadet the idea came about while he was playing squash in the Pentagon one day.  He thought “wouldn’t it be neat if we had 100 foot sheet hanging out front of the Pentagon instead of the Academy, so we can show the public what spirit we have for the Army- Navy game.”

The two cadets, wearing their midshipmen uniforms, walked right into the Pentagon with their military ID’s at 1800 hrs.  Their only security hold up was while they were carrying their duffel bags; a security guard asked them what they were doing.  They simply replied that they were “waiting around for someone” and the security guard left them alone!

The cadet’s infiltration plan was not too sophisticated but the actual prank took nine months to prepare for.

Early on Thanksgiving Morning a 100 foot wide and 40 feet tall banner that said “Go Navy, Beat Army” hung across the front of the Pentagon. The banner was made of 67 midshipmen bed sheets that had been sewn together. It completely covered the office windows of Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and the Secretary of Defense.

To this day no one knows who the two cadets from the class of 1982 were.  They were probably the last to pull off a prank and security breach of this magnitude.  If any cadets attempted this prank in today’s post 9-11 era they would be sitting at Leavenworth for ten years!

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