May 21, 2024
Annapolis, US 60 F

Herndon 2024; Ben Leisegang from Rancho Santa Margarita 2:19.11. Class of 2027…Plebes No More

Ben Leisegang, 20, a native of Johannesburg and resident of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, a 4th Class Midshipman in the 4th company, started his day on a high note.  Ben was the 4th Class Midshipman who capped the Herndon Monument in 2:19.11. This time is in the middle of the pack–not nearly as long as 1998 and not nearly as quick as 1972.

Each year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy’s plebe (freshman) class form a human pyramid around the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument to remove a plebe hat, or “dixie cup,” that upperclassmen have placed on the top of the obelisk monument which is covered in vegetable shortening. The midshipman who makes it to the top replaces the “dixie cup” with a midshipman’s cover.

The Class of 2027’s victory was sealed with a fire of a cannon on the Yard at 10:27 am.

The Herndon Monument Climb is the traditional culmination of plebe year at the Naval Academy. Demonstrating the teamwork and perseverance they have learned during their first year at the Academy.

The monument is 21 feet tall and is covered with 200 pounds of lard (Crisco) by midshipmen of the 1st Company. The first recorded time was the Class of 1962 with a time of 12 minutes. The fastest time was accomplished by the Class of 1972 in 1 minute, 30 seconds (no grease). The longest time goes to the Class of 1998, which took more than 4 hours to climb.

Legend has it that the plebe who caps the monument will be the first to reach the rank of Admiral; however, this has never happened.

But for tonight, the class of 2027 will be celebrating the final task of their plebe year. Congratulations! Plebes No More!

More photos to come!

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