The Plebe Year

 

 

Some feel that the Plebe year is more demanding than Plebe Summer. Once the Brigade returns following Parents’ Weekend, there are as many as three upperclassmen for each plebe, and the result is very intimidating. 

Wake-Up

During the Academic Year, a typical day begins with Plebe wake-up (between 0500 and 0530), well over an hour before the upper-class get up. 

Plebes need to ready and be conversant with their newspaper articles, memorize menus, professional topics, and "chow calls". At around 0630 they will probably have their "come around" of the day with a youngster or second class that will go over professional topics. 

Morning quarters formation is at 0700 for the entire company; breakfast is shortly afterwards, and the first academic class starts at 0755. There are four class periods in the morning, the last one ending at 1145. 

Chow Call 

After this ten minute grilling period, they will probably have a "chow call", which means standing in a prearranged spot in the company area and yelling at the top of their lungs:
 
"Sir, you now have ten minutes until noon meal formation. Noon meal formation goes outside. The uniform for noon meal formation is winter working blues, stripers carry swords. The menu for noon meal is: (this, of course, changes with every meal)

  • Tuna Salad Sandwich Kit

  • Sweet Pickle Chips

  • Cheese Doodles

  • Mayonnaise, Sliced Tomato, Lettuce and Onion

  • White Bread

  • Lady Baltimore Layer Cake

  • Iced Tea with Lemon Wedges, Milk 

The officers of the watch are: the Command Duty Officer is Lt. (name) 1st Company Officer, the officer of the watch is Midshipman Lt. (name), Brigade Assistant Operations Officer. 

The professional topic of the week is Naval Aviation. 

The major events on the yard are:

0800 Blood drive on Deck 4-0
1600 Men’s Water Polo vs. Army, LeJeune Hall
1900 Company Officer’s time
"You now have ten minutes - SIR!"

Hoarse Voices 

As the Plebe is loudly yelling this, he or she is typically surrounded by several second or third-class that are just waiting for him to make an error. 

Following this five minute "chow call" (which is very similar to the ten minute call), they "chop" to formation in the center of the passageway, eyes straight ahead, squaring all corners, and greeting all upper-class with a loud "GO NAVY, SIR" or "BEAT ARMY, SIR". 

As a result of all this yelling, don’t be alarmed at your Plebe’s hoarse voice when he calls home. In fact, they sound as if they are catching a cold all summer and for the better part of the year. 

Eyes in the Boat 

All through lunch, the plebe keeps his "eyes in the boat", serves the upper-class, responds to all their questions, sits on the front three inches of this chair, speaks only when spoken to, and eats only one bite at a time. After taking a bite, places the utensil on the plate and the hand goes back into the lap. 

Each table is set for twelve Mids in the squad. After serving seconds, or the ten-minute bell, the Plebe can request permission to "shove off" and if granted he returns to his room.

Training

After noon meal, there is a half-hour company training period, after, which there are two more classes which end at 1520. 

Non-varsity athletes march in parades and play intramurals during the fall and spring. Varsity athletes practice every day of the week and are exempt from marching in the parades when their sport is in its season.

Buffet-Style Dinners

Evening meal is served buffet-style between 1700 and 1900. There is open seating during evening meal and Mids can eat at their convenience between the prescribed times. Evening meal is followed by a study hour at 2030. 

Lights Out! 

Plebe taps are at 2300, and upper-class taps are at 2400, with a bed check each night. Plebe rooms are usually inspected daily and formal inspections (white glove and black sock) are conducted approximately twice each semester.

Weekends

On the weekends, Plebes have town liberty from 1015 on Saturday to 0100 on Sunday morning. They have Yard liberty from noon meal to evening meal formation on Sundays. 

Plebes who make the Superintendent’s List at the end of the first semester rate one weekend liberty during the second semester. Those on the Commandant’s List will get Sunday liberty.
 
"Youngsters" have town liberty on Saturday until 0100 Sunday morning. They rate three weekends of liberty per semester, meaning that they can leave at 1015 Saturday and they don’t have to return until Sunday at 1900. 

Second class rate five weekends per semester and first class rate eight weekends, the only exception being when they have military watch. 

"Civies" 

"Firsties" and second class are allowed to wear civilian clothes around the Academy when on weekend liberty. Youngsters cannot keep civilian clothes in the Hall and cannot wear civies unless on authorized leave. Firsties may keep their cars on the Yard, and may drive them on weekday afternoons or if they are not marching or playing a sport at the time.

Carry On 

For the Plebes, the hassles continue all the way through the first and second semesters. If Navy beats Army in football, "carry on" is usually granted until Christmas leave. 

This means that many restrictions are eliminated; for example, Plebes can sleep when they want to, even during the day! Periodically through the academic year, rumors circulate that maybe they can have stereos or their rates will be changed but the privileges never come until after final exams.

Sea Trials

In late April, and after almost a year of academic and professional instruction, plebes endure a 13-hour series of challenges, known as Sea Trials. 
 
This event forces plebes to use the skills they learn during their first year at the academy. The day-long battery of challenges include obstacle courses, physical endurance exercises, basic seamanship, and problem solving exercises and knowledge of the academy. 

Endurance, Determination, and Teamwork

Sea Trials test the plebes' endurance, determination and teamwork. Many exercises are tied to significant events or people, which reminded the plebes of the legacy of Naval Academy graduates who served their country.
 
Developed by the Class of 1998, Sea Trials becomes the culminating event of plebe year. 

It challenges plebes and encourages them to work together as a team under a rigorous regimen. To excel, the fourth class needs to lean on one another, push themselves to unforeseen limits and work together in every phase.

Preparation

From early January, the upper class dedicates their weekends to training the plebes and getting them prepared for Sea Trials. While plebes learn to work together as a team, the upper class applies and tests leadership skills. 

During the 4th class year, plebes learn to put ship and shipmate first. Sea Trialsput that training into practice and gave them a chance to win as a team. 

Herndon

"Herndon" is the big event for Plebes during Commissioning Week and possibly the biggest event of the year. 
 
Herndon is a gray, granite obelisk - 21 feet high (48" Square at bottom) with matching gray, granite base, 71" Square
 
Upperclassmen coat the monument with 100 lbs. of lard and cement a "dixie cup" on the top. The plebes must work together to replace the "dixie cup" with a midshipman’s cover. 

The Plebes gather in Tecumseh Court and, at the cannon fire, race to Herndon Monument. The cannon is fired every fifteen minutes until the hats are switched. 

Plebes No More

At this point the tired, greasy dirty 4/C cease to be Plebes. They are still 4/C but no longer Plebes. 

They become 3/C when the covers hit the ground at commencement, but don’t become youngsters until they spot the Chapel Dome upon their return from their YP or CSTS Cruise during the summer. Whew! Got that straight?

Herndon Records

Recorded times to accomplish this task vary from year to year. 

The longest time in recorded history now belongs to the Class of ‘98, who heard the cannon fire 14 times and currently hold the record at 4 hours and 17 minutes due to the use of entire roll of fiber packing tape used by the Class of ‘97 to secure the dixie cup to the top of the monument. Their unofficial motto is "Four Hours Together By the Bay". 

They will probably hold the record forever since there is now a rule stating that only one piece of masking tape may be used to keep the plebe cover from "falling off" before the Plebes complete the climb. 

The shortest time occurred in 2010,  0:02:02(no lard was used that year). The current record was set by the class of ’06.  

The Plebe who replaces the cover is rewarded with a mounted Super-intendent’s shoulder board and tradition holds that the Mid will be the first one in the class to make Admiral — but it has yet to come true!