Chris Bianchi of Virginia Beach, Virginia had a very special day. Bianchi was the 4th Class Midshipman who capped the Herndon Monument in 1:12:34. That time had not been beat since 1988* and is the fastest of all the classes currently at the Academy.
Bianchi’s mother, Rita, was on hand and she took a few moments to talk to us about her son. “He has always done whatever he set out to accomplish, so I am not surprised, but very happy.” She told us that it was a bittersweet moment because Chris’ father, a 1985 graduate of the Academy, was killed in a Navy helicopter crash on July 16, 2003 when he was just 6 years old.
CMDR Kevin A. Bianchi, died when an MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter crashed on a roadside about 10 miles southwest of the American Navy base at Sigonella in eastern Sicily. Bianchi had just celebrated his 40th birthday the evening before the crash. CMDR Bianchi’s wife said that she was sure that Kevin was looking down on them today.
Chris took none of the glory for the capping of the monument, he kept saying “it’s all about the base” and was quick to bring in his classmates who helped push him to the top. “I guess it helped that I am short,” he quipped. Tradition has it that the plebe who caps the monument will be the first to reach the rank of Admiral; however, as Superintendent VADM Ted Carter pointed out..it has never happened.
But for tonight, the class of 2019 will be celebrating the final task of their plebe year which was completed in near record time. And as Mrs. Bianchi said, somewhere, there’s a proud father looking down on his son and smiling!
* This year’s time ranks # 12 since the Naval Academy has been keeping records.
More photos here by Michael Finn for Eye On Annapolis.