1953 – 1954 United States Cadet Corps

This is the draft write up which will be posted on the Thayer web site – the next to the last listing under dedicated rooms – and appropriately, sandwiched between Jim Kimsey and the ’58 Team


http://rdp.thethayerhotel.com

1953 – 1954 United States Corps of Cadets

The Class of 1962 entered on 1 July 1958. The Upper Classes insured we understood and appreciated what had gone before. The 1953 Football Season was one that touched both our need to appreciate the success of Army Football and our training in our Honor Code.

In the years since our Graduation, the Cadet Corps has lost touch with not just the success of the 1953 Football Team but with what the 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets actually accomplished.

We, members of the Class of 1962 cannot accept that. Room 405 links today’s Corps of Cadets and all future Cadet Corps with a piece of their Heritage.

Col. Blaik said to the Team after the Navy Game ” —- you have done more for Football at West Point than any other team in the history of the Academy”

Years later members of that team recalled Colonel Blaik’s eyes were misty as he spoke to them in the locker room. The emotion he felt are clearly evident in Tiny Tomsen’s ’54 photo taken as Army’s Coach leaves Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium after the Navy Game. His glassy eyes reflect more than just the pride he has in his Team. They reflect what has been given back to his Alma Mater – to our Alma Mater.

The Class of 1962, and Wives of our Classmates, thank the 1953 -1954 Corps of Cadets for what they and their Team did for all future Classes.

With that said,

The 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets

From tragedy came inspiration. Following the 1953 Army football season, famed sports journalist Grantland Rice wrote of the small, captivating team of thirty-four men who came to play Navy in Philadelphia on November 29, “They came up the hard way, and there has never been a team with a finer spirit.” Their legendary coach, Earl “Red” Blaik, would write twenty-one years later, “They had lived with the coaching lash, dirt, blood, and defeat. They were afraid of nothing, awed by nothing, eager to do anything asked.” This was a special team, truly a team of “the twelfth man” – a team of heroes without stars, with different heroes each Saturday, all playing for honor and love of the game.

They were the same team Blaik spoke to in the locker room after their victory over Navy. His words would last a lifetime and continue to echo down through the years.

“I never coached a team that gave me more than you did.”

But there was more, much more, a determined band of men in the class of 1954 who led the team, and whose cheerleaders wanted to know and remember victories. The silence they imposed upon the Corps prior to the Duke Game proved potent when 2400 voices erupted in support of their team. They gave birth to the tradition of Army’s victory cannon, and in the sunshine and shadows of a now-vanished Polo Grounds in New York City, led the Corps of Cadets in relentless, thunderous chants of “GO! GO! GO!” – and for the first time outside of Michie Stadium fired the cannon, that over the years since, has shaken great stadiums. They were the same men who, on a Caribbean training cruise in the summer of 1951 fomented a small “Mutiny on the Whiskey,” – the battleship USS Wisconsin – while others, in pre-dawn’s dark spilled a reveille cannon into Camp Buckner’s Lake Popolopen.

In November 1952 along with the Class of ’53, they showed their spirit and fight once more when in “Operation Paintbrush” they painted and repainted a sign on the starboard side of a Navy destroyer-escort docked at West Point. Then came the fall of 1953, when the men of ’54 let it be known “This will be Army’s year!” and conceived the mischievous goat larceny. They, with ’55, marched Billy XII through Washington Hall at Sunday’s supper meal – and again with ’55 fomented the goat rebellion at West Point, not knowing that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had summarily ordered the goat’s return to Annapolis.

They were leading a Corps of Cadets whose members in 1951 “walked on” in great numbers to play for their decimated football team. They were players who, with the Corps, became one, inseparable unit of men who refused to remember they hadn’t the skills or experience to play the great game of collegiate football. They were from the teams of 1951 and 1952, who felt the sting of adversity, embarrassment, humiliation and loss, sweated, bleed, played every game with a fury, gave all they had – and laid the foundation for the season of ’53. Men in the Class of 1955, the smallest West Point class in years, who walked on with all the others, and joined the class of ’54’s quest for victory. And ’56, with its bevy of talented yearlings who set the gridiron on fire that fall. Men from the Plebe Class, ’57, who surrounded the practice field each day, and with their entire class voiced thunderous encouragement on game days.

In The Pointer magazine published the day prior to the Navy game Cadet Allan C. Sterling, Jr., class of 1954, wrote, “Tomorrow afternoon, radio sets will be tuned on Philadelphia all the way from Berlin to Panmunjom. Graduates will be listening for news of an Army victory. But they’ll be listening for something more – something none of them talk about. They’ll be listening for evidence the Corps is on its way back. They want to know that the values which they stand for are still alive in the Corps. Most of the hundred thousand spectators tomorrow afternoon will be watching a football game and nothing else. The Corps will be watching eleven men shouldering the task of 2400.”

Coach Earl H Blaik was designated College Football Coach of the Year, while the 17 October defeat of the 7th ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Polo Grounds was designated as the Collegiate Game of the Year.

On Sunday, December 20, 1953, in a ceremony at the supper meal in Washington Hall, after a five minute speech describing the history of the Lambert Trophy, brothers Victor and Henry Lambert presented the trophy in recognition of Army’s Eastern Football supremacy – to Team Captain Leroy Lunn, ’54, who accepted it for both the Army Team and the Corps of Cadets. It was the first time since the trophy’s inception in 1936, that it had been awarded outside New York City, and the first time ever, awarded to a team and its student body.

The Cadets who played such a pivotal role in the Fall of 1953.

Lowell Sisson accepts responsibility for Army’s only loss. To comply with the NCAA’s 1953 greatly restricted substitution rules, players found themselves tested and retested moving from position to position as Coaches searched for who could play both offense and defense and had the conditioning, strength and stamina to play both ways. Lowell was switched from offensive end to back and then just as the season started back to end. His defensive play at end was not to his standard. Army played “Iron Man Football” that year.

The injuries that season were costly, with the loss of Ski Ordway, Mike Zeiger, Neil Chamberlin and Freddie Attaya to list a few. Col Blaik was to say, “By the time the season got down to the Penn and Navy games, the starting eleven and about four substitutes carried the full load”.

In the 3d game of the season, center Norm Stephen was so energized by Blaik’s blistering half time remarks, that on the first offensive play of the second half he bolted from the huddle and raced to the ball – when the other ten suddenly recognizing what he had done followed his lead – with the Corps roaring approval.

It was Bob Mischak’s 73 yard rundown of Duke’s All American Red Smith that set the standard for the teams over the next 3 years. But it was also Army holding on the four Duke thrusts toward the goal line from the 7, with Dick Ziegler’s big hand on the ball preventing Duke’s Worth Lutz from inching the ball forward over the goal line on fourth down that insured that standard. Bob Mischak was an All American.

For nearly 15 years afterward the story of Bob Mischak’s tackle against Duke was part of West Point’s Military Psychology and Leadership Course – as an example of the power of motivation.

Col Blaik was to say “In somehow catching and collaring [Smith], Mischak displayed heart and a pursuit that for one single play I have never seen matched. Yet his feat, one of the great defensive plays of football, would have soon been forgotten, had it not been for the goal line stand that followed.”

Against Duke with Army third and seven Vince Lombardi shouted to Freddie Attaya as he ran onto the field “Run the gauntlet!”

Army 1st Down

The Philadelphia Inquirer erred in giving Howard Glock credit for recovering the Navy fumble on the opening kickoff. Rox Shain had not make the trip with the Team. He had been yanked off the Cadet Train because Col Blaik made the last minute decision to have Rox kick off. Rox’s kicks were hard to handle. Norm Stephen stormed down the field and slammed Navy’s John Riester to the ground causing the fumble. In the photo Howard can be seen some distance from the ball as it passes Lowell Sisson’s knee. Lowell dove on it and Army marched for its touchdown. MAJ Rox Shain’s F-105 was shot down in Vietnam, his remains were never recovered. Joe Peisinger ’54 remembers how excited he was finally beating Navy and as he was Jerry Lodge’s roommate, remembers that Jerry looked like he had been in a fight with a tiger. He was scratched, battered and bruised from head to toe.

It was Ben Schemmer ’54 and Alex Rupp ’55 who procured the Navy Goat in 1953 and Jay Gould who with the Ordnance Department created the Victory Cannon from a German Rocket Gun captured at Kasserine Pass.

The miniature Beat Navy flags on the tables in Washington Hall; the chopper flyover hovering just above the field at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium; the Beat Navy streamer too big to lift (Academy Officials only finding out when the bill arrived in the weeks after the Navy Game); the Victory Cannon, Billy’s arrival in Washington Hall; the individual Cadet Company creations honoring their team; highly decorated General James Van Fleet taking off his uniform jacket reveling his Cadet sweater with his large Army A stitched on representing 2 undefeated season, speaking to the Corps prior to the Navy Game; the Drums, the Bugles, the Constant, Thunderous never ending Chanting GO! – GO!! – GO!!!, that is recalled to this day.

Then there was the “Silence” imposed upon the Corps by the Cheerleaders after the Team left for New York City for the Duke Game. Each, each piece contributed to the success of that season. But more than anything it was the voices of 2400 who would not let the members of that Team ever forget for one moment why they played.

Bob Mischak who as player and coach participated in 3 Super Bowl winning teams, 8 AFC Championship games and numerous playoff games including as a starter in the NFL’s famed “Greatest Game Ever Played” had this to say of the Duke Game.

“From a player’s stand point, that was the epitome of any game, team, and student body support that I’ve been associated with – bar none.”

Jerry Hagan immediately stepped in, directing the initial scoring drive against Duke with Tommy Bell quick-opening buck off Duke’s right side to score on the 9 yard touch down run.

Col Blaik rotated the pulling guards, so Joe Franklin played both right and left guard. In the Duke Game Joe tore up his right knee when Ralph Torrance & Duke’s All American Eddie Meadows went high & low on him in the in 2d Quarter. He was out for the Season.

Peter was Class of ’55 in the Fall of 1953. He joined the Class of 1956 when he was found in International Relations.

(Please note times were different – Peter was contacted by the Dean and told to wait before he contacted any other institution – in the end Peter remained at the Academy wearing Cadet Gray, studying and practicing, but not a member of the Corps – one might say hidden from recruiters)

Coach Lombardi spent hours on the field and in private sessions instructing number 10 in the royal three “F’s” of Lombardi – faking, feeding and fleeing. The fleeing part was very important to protect your hide. If anything was unique about Lombardi was his attention to details almost to a point of being an obsession. Peter was notified just prior to his death that West Point had recognized his contribution. He was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame on September 17, 2010.

When Colonel Blaik retired after the 1958 Season, Joe Steffy ’49, (Army’s only Outland Trophy Recipient) asked his Coach which were his most memorable plays. One of the two mentioned was Pete Lash ’56 running around, between, over or through nearly every Navy Player in the 1955 Game. Colonel Blaik again mentioned that play to BG Joe Franklin in the early eighties.

(Of note – Joe Steffy attended every Army Home Game from 1952 till shortly before his death several years ago.)

Coach Blaik’s decision regarding the 1955 Team had come under extreme criticism by the Sporting Press, the Academy Staff & Faculty and even a number of Cadets. On the evening of Friday, November 25, 1955 as Col Blaik expressed his concern for the game the next day, one player spoke up “Colonel you’re not going to take that walk tomorrow”

At the old Municipal Stadium the next day – Army 14 Navy 6.

That player was an All American End who for the good of the Team, took a step back from his All American position to quarterback the ’55 Team. He is a member of both the Hall of Fame and the Army Sports Hall of Fame.

Don’s Creed is Honored each year by Teams across American in their selection of their one player who best exemplifies “leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and – above all – an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself”. The Black Lion Award honor’s Don and the other Black Lions lost on 17 October 1967.

Ralph Chesnauskas, Yearling right guard in 1953 who kicked the 2 extra points, played the entire sixty minutes against Duke while his Teammate and Classmate Bob Farris played the 2d half of the Navy Game blind in one eye. Although Captain in 1954, Bob never played another down of football. In 2009 Ralph, an All American who earned 9 Army A’s during his 3 years of eligibility, was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame.

Again, we members of the Class of 1962 thank the 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets and their Team.

Old

We entered on 1 July 1958. The Upper Classes insured we understood and appreciated what had gone before. The 1953 Football Season was one that touched both our need to appreciate the success of Army Football and our training in our Honor Code. In the years since our Graduation, the Cadet Corps has lost touch with not just the success of the 1953 Football Team but with what the 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets actually accomplished.

We, members of the Class of 1962 cannot accept that. Room 405 links today’s Corps of Cadets and all future Cadet Corps with a piece of their Heritage.

Col. Blaik said to the Team after the Navy Game ” —- you have done more for Football at West Point than any other team in the history of the Academy”

The tears in Colonel Blaik’s eyes are clearly evident in Tiny Tomsen’s ’54 photo taken as Army’s Coach leaves Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium after the Navy Game. Those tears
reflect more than just the pride he has in his Team. They reflect what has been given back to his Alma Mater – to our Alma Mater.

The Class of 1962, and Wives of our Classmates, thank the 1953 -1954 Corps of Cadets for what they and their Team did for all future Classes.

With that said,

The 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets

From tragedy came inspiration. Following the 1953 Army football season, famed sports journalist Grantland Rice wrote of the small, captivating team of thirty-four men who came to play Navy in Philadelphia on November 29, “They came up the hard way, and there has never been a team with a finer spirit.” Their legendary coach, Earl “Red” Blaik,
would write twenty-one years later, “They had lived with the coaching lash, dirt, blood, and defeat. They were afraid of nothing, awed by nothing, eager to do anything asked.” This was a special team, truly a team of “the twelfth man” – a team of heroes without stars, with different heroes each Saturday, all playing for honor and love of the
game.

They were the same team Blaik spoke to in the locker room after their victory over Navy. His words would last a lifetime and continue to echo down through the years.

“I never coached a team that gave me more than you did.”

But there was more, much more, a determined band of men in the class of 1954 who led the team, and whose cheerleaders wanted to know and remember victories. The silence they imposed upon the Corps prior to the Duke Game proved potent when 2400 voices erupted in support of their team. They gave birth to the tradition of Army’s victory cannon, and in the sunshine and shadows of a now-vanished Polo Grounds in New York City, led the Corps of Cadets in relentless, thunderous chants of “GO! GO! GO!” – and for the first time outside of Michie
Stadium fired the cannon, that over the years since, has shaken great stadiums. They were the same men who, on a Caribbean training cruise in the summer of 1951 fomented a small “Mutiny on the Whiskey,” – the
battleship USS Wisconsin – while others, in pre-dawn’s dark spilled a reveille cannon into Camp Buckner’s Lake Popolopen.

In November 1952 along with the Class of ’53, they showed their spirit and fight once more when in “Operation Paintbrush” they painted and repainted a sign on the starboard side of a Navy destroyer-escort docked at West Point. Then came the fall of 1953, when the men of ’54 let it be known “This will be Army’s year!” and conceived the mischievous goat larceny. They, with ’55, marched Billy XII through Washington Hall at Sunday’s supper meal –
and again with ’55 fomented the goat rebellion at West Point, not knowing that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had summarily ordered the goat’s return to Annapolis.

They were leading a Corps of Cadets whose members in 1951 “walked on” in great numbers to play for their decimated football team. They were players who, with the Corps, became one, inseparable unit of men who
refused to remember they hadn’t the skills or experience to play the great game of collegiate football. They were from the teams of 1951 and 1952, who felt the sting of adversity, embarrassment, humiliation and loss, sweated, bleed, played every game with a fury, gave all they had – and laid the foundation for the season of ’53. Men in the Class of
1955, the smallest West Point class in years, who walked on with all the others, and joined the class of ’54’s quest for victory. And ’56, with its bevy of talented yearlings who set the gridiron on fire that fall. Men from the Plebe Class, ’57, who surrounded the practice field each day, and with their entire class voiced thunderous encouragement on game days.

In The Pointer magazine published the day prior to the Navy game Cadet Allan C. Sterling, Jr., class of 1954, wrote, “Tomorrow afternoon, radio sets will be tuned on Philadelphia all the way from Berlin to Panmunjom. Graduates will be listening for news of an Army victory. But they’ll be listening for something more – something none of them talk
about. They’ll be listening for evidence the Corps is on its way back. They want to know that the values which they stand for are still alive in the Corps. Most of the hundred thousand spectators tomorrow afternoon will be watching a football game and nothing else. The Corps will be watching eleven men shouldering the task of 2400.”

Coach Earl H Blaik was designated College Football Coach of the Year, while the 17 October defeat of the 7th ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Polo Grounds was designated as the Collegiate Game of the Year.

On Sunday, December 20, 1953, in a ceremony at the supper meal in Washington Hall, after a five minute speech describing the history of the Lambert Trophy, brothers Victor and Henry Lambert presented the trophy in recognition of Army’s Eastern Football supremacy – to team captain Leroy Lunn, ’54, who accepted it for both the Army team and the Corps of Cadets. It was the first time since the trophy’s inception in 1936, that it had been awarded outside New York City, and the first time ever, awarded to a team and its student body.

The four classes of 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets’ record from the fall of 1953 to the fall of 1956 is

25-9-2, with 2 wins, one tie and one loss against Navy.

It was Bob Mischak’s 73 yard rundown of Duke’s All American Red Smith that set the standard for the teams over the next 3 years. But it was also Army holding on the four Duke thrusts toward the goal line from the 7, with Dick Ziegler’s big hand on the ball preventing Duke’s Worth Lutz from inching the ball forward over the goal line on fourth down that insured that standard. Bob Mischak was an All American.

The Philadelphia Inquirer erred in giving Howard Glock credit for recovering the Navy fumble on the opening kickoff. Rox Shain had not make the trip with the Team. He had been yanked off the Cadet Train because Col Blaik made the last minute decision to have Rox kick off. Rox’s kicks were hard to handle. Norm Stephen stormed down the field and slammed Navy’s John Riester to the ground causing the fumble. In the photo Howard can be seen some distance from the ball as it passes Lowell Sisson’s knee. Lowell dove on it and Army marched for its touchdown. MAJ Rox Shain’s F-105 was shot down in Vietnam, his remains were never recovered.
.

It was Ben Schemmer ’54 and Alex Rupp ’55 who procured the Navy Goat in 1953 and Jay Gould who with the Ordnance Department created the Victory Cannon from a German Rocket Gun captured at Kasserine Pass.

Number 10 was Class of ’55 in the Fall of 1953. He joined the Class of 1956 when he was found in International Relations. Coach Lombardi spent hours on the field and in private sessions instructing Peter in the royal three “F’s” of Lombardi – faking, feeding and fleeing. The fleeing part was very important to protect your hide. If anything was unique about Lombardi was his attention to details almost to a point of being paranoia. Peter was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame on September 17, 2010.

Col Blaik rotated the pulling guards, so Joe Franklin played both right and left guard. In the Duke Game Joe tore up his right knee when Ralph Torrance & Duke’s All American Eddie Meadows went high & low on him in the in 2d Quarter. He was out for the Season.

When Colonel Blaik retired after the 1958 Season, Joe Steffy ’49, (Army’s only Outland Trophy Recipient) asked his Coach which were his most memoriable plays. One of the two mentioned was Pete Lash ’56 running around, between, over or through nearly every Navy Player in the 1955 Game. Colonel Blaik again mentioned that play to BG Joe Franklin in the early eighties.

(Of note – Joe Steffy attended every Army Home Game from 1952 till shortly before his death several years ago.)

Coach Blaik’s decision regarding the 1955 Team had come under extreme criticism by the Sporting Press, the Academy Staff & Faculty and even a number of Cadets. On the evening of Friday, November 25, 1955 as Col Blaik expressed his concern for the game the next day, one player spoke up “Colonel you’re not going to take that walk tomorrow”

At the old Municipal Stadium the next day – Army 14 Navy 6.

That player was an All American End who for the good of the Team, took a step back from his All American position to quarterback the ’55 Team. He is a member of both the Hall of Fame and the Army Sports Hall of Fame.

Don’s Creed is Honored each year by Teams across American in their selection of their one player who best examplifies “leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and – above all – an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself”. The Black Lion Award honor’s Don and the other Black Lions lost on 17 OCtober 1967.

Ralph Chesnauskas, Yearling right guard in 1953 who kicked the 2 extra points, played the entire sixty minutes against Duke while his Teammate and Classmate Bob Farris played the 2d half of the Navy Game blind in one eye. Although Captain in 1954, Bob never played another down of football. In 2009 Ralph, an All American who earned 9 Army A’s, was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame.

When as a Plebe Bob Anderson ’60 stopped to pick up his sock roll in the Gym he was issued an orange jersey told to report to the A Squad practice field. It was the week of the Syracuse Game and Bob was going to be Jim Brown. On the first play running with the B Squad, Bob knocked off 8 yards. It was then that the dreaded words for every B Squad were spoken by the Colonel. “Run it Again.” Bob went into the line and was immediately slammed to the ground by Dick Stephenson (3 Army A’s). Years later as an All American – Hall of Fame Running Back, Bob could still remembered that hit – his introduction to Army Football.

The Class of 1957’s Gift is perhaps the finest gift of any Class for it goes to the very essance of each and every Cadet. Situated against the East wall of Eisenhower Barracks, Honor Plaza cradles the words of our Honor Code which are the fiber for our Motto – Duty Honor Country.

Again, we members of the Class of 1962 thank the 1953 – 1954 Corps of Cadets and their Team.

In the fall of 1956, when as a Plebe Bob Anderson ’60 stopped to pick up his sock roll in the Gym he was issued an orange jersey told to report to the A Squad practice field. It was the week of the Syracuse Game and Bob was going to be Jim Brown. On the first play running with the B Squad, Bob knocked off 8 yards. It was then that the dreaded words for every B Squad were spoken by the Colonel. “Run it Again.” Bob went into the line and was immediately slammed to the ground by Dick Stephenson (3 Army A’s). Years later as an All American – Hall of Fame Running Back, Bob could still remembered that hit – his introduction to Army Football.

The Class of 1957’s Gift is perhaps the finest gift of any Class for it goes to the very essance of each and every Cadet. Situated against the East wall of Eisenhower Barracks, Honor Plaza cradles the words of our Honor Code which are the fiber for our Motto – Duty Honor Country. Every photo associated with the room is black & white – the only exception being Honor Plaza.

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