Wednesday, July 1, 2015

U.S. Naval Academy Welcomes Class of 2019

The U.S. Naval Academy welcomed the incoming Class of 2019 in Annapolis July 1.

1,192 men and women arrived at the academy for Induction Day, more commonly known as I-Day, the beginning of the arduous six-week indoctrination period called Plebe Summer. 

Photo by Gin Kai

The new class includes 325 women - 27 percent of the incoming class. This represents the largest number of women to be inducted into the Naval Academy.

Among the new plebes are 12 international students from 10 countries: Albania, Cambodia, Georgia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. 

Sixty-one new plebes are prior-enlisted, including 50 Navy sailors and 11 Marines.

Photo by Gin Kai

During I-Day, the plebes receive uniforms and military haircuts, undergo medical evaluations, learn to render a salute, and complete their registration. 

They each receive a copy of "Reef Points," a 225-page handbook of information about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Naval Academy's history and traditions, their administrative chain of command, and the general orders of a sentry. New midshipmen are required to memorize virtually all of the more than 1,000 facts outlined in the book.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

I-Day concludes when the midshipmen take the Oath of Office in front of their family, friends and new classmates during a ceremony in Tecumseh Court at 6 p.m. After the ceremony, plebes say goodbye to their families who will not see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend, Aug. 13-16.

With the conclusion of I-Day, Plebe Summer officially begins. During this time, plebes start each day at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The plebes are allotted minimal leisure time.

During these six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upperclass midshipmen. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training. 

“I’m very excited to start training the new candidates,” said Midshipman 1st Class Cameron Morris. “It’s our turn to take up the reins, and rise to as leaders for the new class.”

Photo  by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

This indoctrination period is designed to help plebes develop discipline, honor, character, self-reliance and organization, providing them with the foundation to become midshipmen and successful military leaders.

“Here, more than ever before, you will be challenged morally, mentally, and physically,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter to the Class of 2019. “It's not supposed to be easy. Plebe Summer is pressure with a purpose.”

It’s that atmosphere that attracts students looking to excel. 

“My son chose to come here because he wanted a big challenge,” said Glenn Wilcox, whose son Matthew is a new plebe.  “He thought he could get the best by coming here.”

Carter said that’s why these students were chosen out of the more than 16,000 who applied to attend the Naval Academy.

“You are here because of your academic excellence, athletic prowess, and demonstrated moral character,” he said. “We chose you for your performance to this point, but even more so for your potential as future leaders of character and consequence for our nation.”

"I know you are ready for this challenge and worthy of this calling.”

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