CORAL GABLES, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Academy and West Point leadership and alumni gathered in Coral Gables Jan. 31 to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1946 Army-Navy game and pay tribute to two academy football legends.
Those legends, Pete Williams (USNA '49) and Arnold Tucker (USMA '47), lined up on opposite sides of the ball during the 1946 game and remain friends and neighbors at the Palace at Coral Gables, a retirement facility not far from where they attended high school together at Miami High.
The 70th anniversary celebration was hosted at the Palace and organized by members of the Alumni Associations for both Army and Navy.
Williams was Navy's starting running back in the 1946 game. Tucker was the quarterback for Army, leading a backfield that included legendary runners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.
Army emerged victorious in the game only after Navy's Williams failed to get out of bounds as the clock expired with Navy driving for the winning touchdown. Army was favored by 30 points in the game and was a perennial football powerhouse at that time, having won the national championship in 1944 and 1945. They entered the game against Navy undefeated, and Army would eventually become national champions again in 1946 after the victory over Navy.
It was the close margin in the 1946 game and the performances of Williams and Tucker, as well as their lifelong friendship, that was noted in the anniversary celebration. And, as always, the purity of the Army-Navy rivalry was a constant theme.
Vice Adm. Ted Carter, Naval Academy superintendent, attended and gave keynote remarks.
"The 1946 game is not entirely unlike the game we just played this past December," said Carter. "We were heavily favored as Army was back then. And yet, in this game, the teams always find a way to play admirably and keep it close. We should never lose respect for the history of this game, the performances of the men in this room today and the fact that this is the best rivalry in the country. Period."
Lt. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo, a 1981 West Point graduate and current deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command in Miami, gave remarks for Army and noted the significance of the 1946 game and the importance of the rivalry based on who attended.
"President Truman was in the stands, as were a host of other names like MacArthur, Eisenhower, Marshall, Halsey, Nimitz and Leahy," said DiSalvo.
"As is always the case, this game goes beyond the final score," DiSalvo continued. "It is never about who wins and loses, but rather how special these two institutions are and what the academies mean to America."
Williams and Tucker were joined by friends and family and approximately 100 guests, who rose for a standing ovation for each of the men at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The men were presented with commemorative footballs and helmets from West Point and the Naval Academy respectively and posed for pictures with Carter and DiSalvo.
In the end, after 70 years, the day came down to the bond that exists between Army and Navy and the friendship that has lasted between two great men from the time they were in high school to now, as they reside in the same retirement community.
"I tried to get him (Williams) to come to Army," joked Tucker to the crowd. "His being a member of the Navy football team never infringed on our friendship."
The rivalry continues.
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