This morning starting at 6 AM 1,192 young men and women arrived at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. This is the class of 2018, arriving for their first day of what will become a 9-year commitment to the United States Navy. You can always tell when it is Induction Day (I-Day) by the glassy, enthusiastic eyes of young adults arriving on the yard. If that doesn’t tip your hat, just look into the eyes of any middle aged female civilian and see the tears of emotion.
There are 889 men and 303 women including 13 international students from 12 different countries. These for the selected few out of more than 17,000 applications to the Academy.
Midshipman candidates begin to arrive at 6 AM and are processed through the cavernous Alumni Hall. They are issued clothing, are subject to several medical tests, countless forms, and of course the required haircut. After signing an oath of office, the first step in becoming a plebe, they get their first introduction to the detailers who will be instructing them in the ways of the Academy for the next seven weeks. There taught how to wear their midshipman hat or cover, how to salute, how to stand, how to answer orders, and many other requirements of plebe summer.
Every midshipman is given a copy of Reef Points on I-Day. This book serves as a thorough introduction to the Navy and the Naval Academy, and includes its mission, history and traditions. Plebes will be required to memorize virtually all of the more than 1000 facts that are outlined in this small, blue book of approximately 225 pages so that their transition into military life is comprehensive and complete.
I-Day culminates in an evening ceremony when the new midshipmen take the Oath of Office (the second part of becoming “official”) in front of their family, friends and new classmates in Tecumseh Court. The midshipman pledge to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which they are about to enter.” The oath is reaffirmed at the conclusion of plebe of summer.
USMC 2nd Lieutenant Jospeh Locksmith of Kissimmee, FL escorted Eye On Annapolis this morning explaining the various stations and recollecting his time at the Academy. Plebe summer seems so far removed for this newly graduated 2nd Lieutenant who will report to USMC Base, Quantico in September. For the summer Locksmith will be working with the PAO Office during induction day, and then will be working in the physical education department until he needs to report to Quantico. While at the Academy, Locksmith wrestled for the Navy team.
This morning there was a bit of a transition in the barbershop. The senior barber, Ernest Smith, affectionately known as “Smitty,” retired yesterday. He had served at the Academy for 32 years and, at one time or another, had cut virtually everyone’s hair over the last three decades. Smitty was here today for a final few haircuts. But he has competition. Leroy Evans has been at the Academy for 31 years cutting hair and is now the most senior barber on staff. But if you talk to Leroy he will explain that he has a few years on Smitty in terms of service to the Navy as he was enlisted for 2 years. It appears that Army-Navy is not the only rivalry alive and well on the yard at United States Naval Academy.
After processing, the candidates are bused to Bancroft Hall where they are further indoctrinated into their new lives. Media is not allowed in Bancroft during this time but our escort, 2nd Lieutenant Locksmith gave us a clue,” I remember my first day running up three stories to my room being yelled at the entire way.” He recalled one male plebe who mistakenly referred to a female 1st Class Midshipman as a “sir” — he had to call his girlfriend and…well, let’s just leave it at that. To be sure, there will be a lot of orders barked, and today and the next seven weeks will not be the most pleasant; but in the end, these 1192 men and women will come out as lifelong friends with a bond that eludes most everyone else.
Eye On Annapolis took some video this morning which will be available a bit later. Stay tuned for further coverage of the swearing in and oath of office ceremony later this evening, but for now, enjoy the images from the morning!