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By John Sharpe
With apologies to Rudyard Kipling and his immortal water boy


Tho’ you think you’re tough and hard
On the day you hit the yard
You soon find the Navy life’s not what you thought it.
First they shave off all your hair,
Strip your pride, leave you bare,
And there’s a sickness called self-doubt; you just caught it.


So it’s a bulkhead not a wall,
A companionway not a hall,
And a rack is now what used to be your bed,
And "Reef Points" is your bible.
But it’s more’n likely liable
They’ll only ask you ‘bout the parts you haven’t read.


For it’s chop! Chop! Chop!
"Where’s my Brasso? Get the mop!"
Life’s a livin’ hell when you’re a Plebe.


They herd you around like sheep
Yet there’s lots of time for sleep.
If you can figure out how to do it standin’ up.
"No excuse, sir." or "I’ll find out,"
Your confidence is in full rout.
And you feel you’re three ranks lower’n a mongrel pup.


Plebe summer’s bad; but just the start.
You can’t know they saved the part
That’ll make you doubt if you’ve got the guts to face four years.
Tours, demerits, and getting fried
Test your heart, your soul, your hide.
And the closest you get to salt water is your tears.


And it’s regs, regs, regs
You’re a maggot with arms and legs
Life’s a living hell when you’re a Plebe.


"Push it up, suck it in,
Pop that chest, hide that chin!"
And no-one gives a damn when you feel cruddy.
But miss one little rate;
You’ll learn what they mean by hate.
And don’t expect they care there’s no time to study.


Tho’ they did their best to break me,
In the end they couldn’t make me
Pack it in: I stayed tru-blue Navy to the core.
Now every flamin’ Upper Class
Stand aside and let me pass,
‘Cause it’s Herndon and there ain’t no Plebes no more.


Yes, it’s a name to grow to hate
But let me tell you mate,
It takes a hell of a lot of guts to be a Plebe.


Dedicated to all the first year Midshipmen of USNA - past, present and future. Taken from the June 1990 TRADEWINDS, Parent’s Club of So. California Newsletter.

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