This was a fun project we did for a special granddad-grandson team. When Joshua approached us about making this special case, and told us the unique story behind it, we had to do it! Joshua Rackham, Class of 2019, sent us this testimonial:
Bill Mackey, my mother’s father, is a proud graduate of the USNA class of 1969. None of his children decided to enter the service, but when I decided around 20 years old that I wanted to go fly in the Air Force, he suggested that I attend a service academy instead of going through ROTC and described the advantages that that would afford me in becoming an Air Force pilot.Long story short, I decided to attend the Air Force Academy. I entered BCT in 2015 as a member of the class of 2019. With the beginning of a new school year, the college football season followed closely behind. My first year, my granddad explained how he used to bet on the Navy/Army game every year with West Point cadets while he was a midshipman. In his days, each midshipman found a West Point cadet to bet with, and the winner of the game each year got to keep a bathrobe from the opponent’s school. We ended up making similar bets each year, exchanging bathrobes and A-jackets for each win.
I felt a connection to my granddad throughout my time at USAFA, since his class was the same year as my legacy class. Additionally, his father had been a naval captain and test aviator, who flew with and became very close with the Apollo 11 crew. In fact, had he not been commissioned early (prior to receiving his bachelor’s degree), he would have been one of the first men on the moon. He and Neil Armstrong met every year in California for their birthday lunch until they passed away. So, it felt only right that Neil Armstrong was my class exemplar. I was able to speak with Rich Armstrong (Neil’s son) at our exemplar dinner, and he remembered my Granddad, since they used to spend time together as kids.
My graduation felt extra special as well, as I graduated and got married exactly 50 years after my granddad graduated and got married. Our graduation and wedding anniversaries are exactly 50 years and 2 days apart.
In order to commemorate this special connection, and keep our bet going, my granddad decided to have this double saber case made, to hold both his USNA sword, and my USAFA saber. Whoever wins each year’s Air Force/Navy game gets their sword displayed on top in the case, which resides in my home.
The case has two placards. The first one has both of our class crests and our names, and reads “A semi-centennial tribute from granddad to grandson”
The second placard contains a quote that my granddad remembered from seeing it displayed prominently in the West Point athletic center:
“Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields, will bear the fruits of victory. – General Douglas MacArthur”
We are extremely grateful to Rich and Mary MacKeen for making this custom saber case for this special piece. It is beautifully and prominently displayed in my home now and will be for years (and hopefully generations) to come.