In 1899, at the Army-Navy Game, the Navy football team appeared with a mascot, a handsome if smelly goat. Army fans looked hastily for a mascot of their own. The Army mule was already legendary for its roughness and endurance, so the mule was obvious. A quartermaster in Philadelphia stopped a passing ice truck, and the big white mule pulling it became the first Army mascot.
Dolled up in leggings, a collar and a gray blanket, with black gold and gray streamers fluttering from his ears, this mule met the Navy goat and - according to West Point legend - "hoisted that astonished goat toward the Navy stand to the delight of the laughing crowd." Army won the game too 17-5.
Few other mules have actually gone into combat but some of the great white mule's successors have also passed into legend. The first official mascot, Mr. Jackson, a pack mule from the regular Army, arrived at West Point in 1936, and remained until his death in 1961, at the astonishing age of thirty-five. Retired from active service, he remained stabled with other mules, and would bray plaintively when he saw them led out to events.
Pancho, a little Ecuadorian burro, was a gift of the Ecuadorian ambassador. She appeared at the '42 Army-Navy game got up in a goat's skin and horns, her rider dressed in a middie's uniform, and galloped up and down the sidelines to the amazement and applause of the fans. Trotter, who had begun as a pack animal for the regular Army, was a rarity, a four-gaited mule.
The mules live at the Veterinary Station Hospital, under the supervision of the Post Veterinarian. Each spring the Corps selects a mule rider from the fourth class, based on horsemanship and character, and as each progresses upward through the classes he or she rises in the ranks of the mule riders to become, in the first class year, cadet-in-charge.