At one time, when V-2 rockets were still being tested, real football was played at White Sands Missile Range. In 1950 the range had a post team which went up against other military and school teams and even played in a game billed as the Silver Bowl.

The team was never a powerhouse but did enjoy some novelty as one of the few truly all-service football organizations -- a true team. The starting offensive unit included an Army backfield with the linemen coming from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Records are incomplete but they show the team played at least three games that year. The first, against the freshman team at New Mexico A and M, now New Mexico State, was the team´s closest contest. The final score was 13 to 7 with M on top.

According the school newspaper the game may not have been all that close. Apparently the college team scored its points in the first half while not allowing the missile range team to cross the 50-yard line until the second half.

In November the team played the Ft. Bliss Rockets. According to the El Paso Times, After a scoreless first quarter Fort Bliss poured on the coals and trampled White Sands, 47-7, on Armstrong Field at Fort Bliss.

Bill Patton, a young Marine captain and missile project officer, played on the team as an offensive lineman. He said it was difficult because there were only 2,000 troops on post to draw a team from and they all had their jobs to do. Most worked long and odd hours making full practices impossible. An added problem was a dirt practice field covered with gravel and thorns.

Patton said they only had 28 players and the coaches checked out uniforms for games just in case they had to play.

It doesn´t sound like a team qualified to go to a game but the team was invited by Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada to play in the Silver Bowl which they hosted and played in. Patton said, someone got our record fouled up and thought we were better than we were. In fact the Las Vegas Review Journal, in an article before the game, said, The White Sands aggregation has yet to taste defeat this season but has two deadlocks.

Mostly the game was played for charity. Proceeds from the game went to the Nellis Christmas program for children.

The White Sands team probably should have gone to the casino instead of the stadium. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported, In what turned out to be a game of one-sided keep away, the Nellis Air Force Base Mustangs obliterated the White Sands, New Mexico, Red Devils .... by an astronomical 53-6 count before 1,000 subdued fans. The Las Vegas paper described the game mostly in terms of carnage. According to Patton, Nellis had 18 former college players on its roster.

After the game, Patton took the team into town to buy them a drink. He said they had some trouble because the first half dozen bars they entered would not serve the black soldiers on the team. As a team, they turned around and left each of these establishments until they found one which would serve them all.

So ended their short season. The team may not have won any games on the field but it certainly won as a team off the field.

This page was last updated on 10/26/2018 2:23 PM