Army and Navy teams fought hard on the gridiron at the fifth annual, post-wide Army-Navy Challenge at Fort Gordon on Saturday, but there were nothing but hugs and high-fives as the players intermingled for pictures.
“Any time the Army is beating the Navy is good,” said Alan Lynn, Fort Gordon’s commanding general. “I have love for all services and we are a joint post now, but it is still fun to kid the Navy.”
In honor of the 112th Army-Navy football game, which Navy won 27-21 Saturday, Fort Gordon held its own day of football, food and games.
“Today is about tradition and rivalry,” Navy Capt. John Post said. “When you’re out on the gridiron, the friendliness goes away. But at the end of the day, you are all one unit.”
Starting at 10:45 a.m., the Fort Gordon Navy/Marine Corps Choir opened the day with the national anthem and then the high school teams kicked off the first game.
Lakeside High School Army JROTC and Greenbrier High School Navy JROTC played the first game, with the Navy winning 18-12.
Next was the active-duty game. There are 16 teams that play during the fall on the base. The Navy has only one team, so the Army makes an all-star team, which won 26-6.
“Some of these guys have to put their uniforms back on at (6 p.m.),” said Vince Krajcir, a community relations spokesman for the Navy and coordinator of the event. “There is a tradition about this game. It is about our future leaders and their families being able to enjoy some time off.”
The Marine Corps League donates the trophies that the winners get to display for a year. They also work with the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program and collect toys during the games. They had a truck full by the end of the day.
Next to the field, a dual-lane slide and a bounce house for children was set up by Monkey Joe’s, which has been donating games for this event for the past three years.
“My father and two uncles are Navy men,” said Jim Oremus, the owner of the local Monkey Joe’s. “I’m here because I love the military.”
Hillary Breedlove, of Augusta, watched her 3-year-old on the slide while her husband helped serve food. U.S. Army Southeastern Signal School offered burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst and ribs to players and their families.
Next to the slide, two children were playing Army against Navy on an Xbox game at a truck brought in by the Game Guys.
At 2:30 p.m., the crowd watched the official Army-Navy game on a 73-inch television.
“We should all get together and thank each other. We should thank the ones that can’t be here. Someone is standing watch somewhere in the world so we can enjoy this. That’s what today is about,” Krajcir said.