Parents of USNA Midshipmen
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  • Plebe Summer
    a time of transformation

    It has been said that an education at the Academy can be divided into three equal parts. The first third of your USNA experience is the six weeks of Plebe Summer. The second third is your Plebe Year, and the remaining third is the rest of your stay at the Naval Academy. Although Plebe summer is "only" six weeks, it may seem like an eternity for both students and parents! It transforms you and creates lifelong friendships. There is a love/hate relationship with USNA that develops. Some days students are jubilant and some days they fall into despair. Parents follow a similar pattern. Plebe summer is about survival.

    You can make it!


    Plebe summer is a demanding, fast paced boot camp style orientation that begins four years of preparation of Midshipmen for commissioning as naval officers. Physical and mental demands upon the plebes' time seem never ending, but they have a purpose: the development of leadership ability, motivation, moral strength, physical skills and stamina. These are attributes of any outstanding officer in the Navy or Marine Corps.

    The first day of Plebe Summer, Induction Day (I-Day), begins as prospective plebes report to the Academy's Alumni Hall. There they meet their upper-class company commanders, selected first class (senior) and second class (junior) midshipmen, and the commissioned officers who supervise the Plebe Summer training program. They also meet their classmates, many of whom will become close friends by summer's end.

    During the induction process, plebes cycle through medical examinations, uniform fittings and equipment issue. They get their first plebe haircuts and fill out forms and more forms. Twelve hours after the plebes first arrive at the academy, they assemble for the oath of office ceremony. With anxiety, fatigue and great pride, the new midshipmen pledge to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which (they) are about to enter."

    Plebes are assigned to military units comprising the Fourth Class Regiment. The regiment consists of two battalions, Port and Starboard. The Starboard Battalion has eight companies and the Port Battalion has seven. Each company has two numbered platoons. Each platoon has four squads with about 10-12 plebes per squad.

    As the summer progresses, the new midshipmen rapidly assimilate basic skills in seamanship, navigation and signaling. Infantry drill, shooting of 9 mm pistols and M-16 rifles, sailing and handling Yard Patrol craft all contribute to making each midshipman a proudly versatile individual.

    A rigorous physical conditioning program, including calisthenics, running, pull-ups, sit-ups, swimming, wrestling and boxing takes up only a small part of the daily regimen. Team spirit and the desire to win are developed through competition in activities ranging from athletics to dress parades and seamanship drills.

    Plebes also receive instruction and indoctrination in the Brigade of Midshipman's Honor Concept. The character development program stresses that each individual has the moral courage and the desire to do the right thing because it is right, not from a fear of punishment. There will also be additional training for plebes in human relationships and concepts of equal opportunity.

    On Aug. 10, at the end of the sixth week of Plebe Summer, Parents' Weekend begins. Approximately 5,000 family members and friends are expected to visit during this three-day weekend. Parents can choose to sail with the midshipmen, watch a dress parade and sports exhibitions, dine in King Hall (where all 4,000 midshipmen eat their meals at the same time during the academic year) and meet with faculty and staff members of the academy.

    An appropriate quote worth remembering during Plebe Summer:
    "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"
    -Winston Churchill

    SAMPLE SCHEDULE

    6:00 - 7:30 a.m.
    7:30 - 8:45 a.m.
    8:45 - 11:45 a.m.
    11:45 - 12:00 p.m.
    12:00 - 12:50 p.m.
    1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
    4:00 - 5:50 p.m.
    6:00 - 6:50 p.m.
    7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
    9:10 - 9:30 p.m.
    9:30 - 9:45 p.m.
    10:00 p.m. Physical Training
    Personal Time
    Counsel Time
    Taps / Lights Out


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      The Plebe

    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 a bed,
    And "Reef Points" is your bible.
    But it's more'n likely liable
    They'll only ask you the parts you haven't read.
    For it's Chop! Chop! Chop
    "Where's my Brasso? Get the mop!"
    Life's a livn' 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 to 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.