USNA Parent Survival Guide ~ Firstie Year Home
Privileges Firstie Parents Weekend Gift Ideas for Grads
Firstie Summer Service Selection Commissioning Week
Responsibilites Gift Ideas for Sponsors Graduation Hat Toss
    And then....

Firstie Privileges

Firstie Shoulder Board
(1-6 stripes)

1/C Mids get all the privileges of 2/C year but in larger quantities. They can wear civies and drive during liberty which they get most weekdays except Wednesday, when they are expected to eat dinner with the Brigade. Firsties are allow small refrigerators in their rooms. They get almost all weekends free as well. They get to drive on the yard and they can park for free.

First Class year brings more responsibilities, as well as privileges, than any other year. Firsties are relaxed. It's a good feeling to be at the top of the ladder. If they validated early classes and took advanced placement as Plebes, their academic load may be quite light in their final year. They have some options if they manage to finish their coursework in December. They can branch out and study other concentrations. They can also continue to live in Bancroft but take classes at other nearby institutions for the spring semester.

(1-6 stripes)

Collar Insignia
(1-6 gold bars
on each collar)

Firstie Summer
From the start of First Class cruise, the 1/C Mids act as junior officers, gaining valuable experience under shipboard conditions in various departments on board. First, there is a two-week training period in Pensacola, Fla., and Kings Bay, Ga. which exposes them to naval aviation and the submarine force. Next, a four-to eight-week Fleet Cruise on naval vessels, ranging from aircraft carriers and destroyers to submarines, introduces them to the day-to-day rigors of being underway. They stand bridge watches and, at times, actually control the ship. Firstie Summer, like Firstie Year is about responsibilities.


Within the Brigade certain midshipmen, usually First Class, hold one semester officer rank corresponding to their duties in the Brigade, Regiment, Battalion, Company, Platoon or Squad. All Firsties wear one star and one horizontal stripe on their sleeves and shoulder boards -- they are called midshipman ensigns. The following are the ranks and stripes for the more senior midshipmen officers:

Two Stripes: Midshipman Lieutenant Junior Grade
Three Stripes: Midshipman Lieutenant
Four Stripes: Midshipman Lieutenant Commander
Five Stripes: Midshipman Commander
Six Stripes: Midshipman Captain

Upon completing their fourth year, the midshipmen are presented with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. As newly commissioned officers, their choices are many. Physically qualified graduates may choose from the unrestricted line options including Surface Warfare, Naval Aviation, Submarine Warfare, and Special Operations. Also, up to one sixth of the graduates may choose careers in the Marine Corps. For graduates not physically qualified to be line officers, the Navy offers Staff Corps (Supply and Civil Engineering) as well as restricted line options. A limited number of officers are afforded the opportunity to earn a Master's Degree at selected universities throughout the country. No matter what service option a graduating midshipman enters, he or she may be sure they have received the finest preparation available. "All the regulations and gold braid in the Pacific Fleet cannot enforce a sailor's devotion. This, each officer in command must earn on his own."

Firstie Parents Weekend

There are only two organized weekends for parents to meet and mingle during their student's four years at Annapolis. Other than Plebe Parents Weekend, this is the only time you can visit their Bancroft dorm rooms. Firstie Parents Weekend is held in September of their final year.

Service Selections

Here is a sample of the service selections available to graduating Firsties. Students put in for the service of their choice. They list their top 6 choices and one must be Surface Warfare. For those who do not desire SW, it's not unusual to see someone make 2 or 3 preferred choices and then put in choices which they would not get, i.e. Medical Corps, Spec. Warfare, etc., with SW at the bottom. USNA grants service selections based on student preference and class standing. The top student gets their first choice. The second ranked student will get their choice too. This continues until there are no more positions. They only grant as many positions in a particular field as they have available. As they proceed down the class ranking, students may be granted their second choice selection. Those further down the list may get their third choice as the other slots have already been taken by those with higher standing. The anchor - the lowest scoring graduate - gets whatever is left over.

Although midshipmen submit their community and service preferences, many of the service communities (particularly the highly selective ones like subs, aviation, EOD, Marines, and spec ops) require midshipmen to prepare a packet and that may include an interview. Additionally, some of the communities require additional "screeners" such as aptitude, physical, and medical tests. Finally, some of the communities (like medical) have a whole different process for application and acceptance.

Good grades are important, but OOM is not necessarily the defining element in the final service selection. All of the branches are looking for the right combination of academics, physical readiness, attitude, and potential. You will see midshipmen fairly low on the OOM totum pole get one of the more coveted spots and others that are fairly high not
necessarily get their first choice.

Bottom line: The needs of the Navy.

Where the OOM comes into play is for training date/first assignment. Those at the top of the OOM in a particular community get first dibs at those.

It's actually a very complex process.

Unrestricted Line      



Surface Ships(conv)     



Surface Ships (nuclear) 



Submarine Warfare



Navy Seals       



Special Operations 



Navy Pilot  



Naval Flight Officer



Marine Corps Pilot 



Marine Corps NFO  



Marine Corps Ground 



Restricted Line & Staff Corps



Aviation Maintenance  










Medical Corps 



Supply Corps



Civil Engineering Corps



Human Resources Professional 



Interservice Transfer

Air Force  






Gift Ideas for Sponsors

During Commissioning Week, it is appropriate to give a gift to your Mid's Sponsors. Some suggestions are:

  • a frame with a navy blue mat holding the graduation invitation, the name card and wallet sized graduation photo
  • a framed photo of the sponsor family with your Mid
  • a ceremonial saber and scabbord mounted and engraved "Thanks for everything!"
  • Flowers are always appropriate
    Gift Ideas for Grads
    • A frequently requested item appropriate for a graduating Mids is a sword. Please note that swords are available in different lengths, so make sure your mid gets one that suits his/her height. Lengths vary from 28 to 34 inches and there doesn't seem to be an "official" standard length. These are expensive items and by no means a must-have. Student sometimes buy a commemorative sword to present to their parents.
    • Spanish made Bermejo Swords at . Their address is Bermejo S.A., C/Airosas num. 5, 45003 Toledo (Spain), Phone: 925-285-367, Fax: 925-216-255, E-mail:
    • German-made Marlo White swords are also very nice, see

    Commissioning Week
    Advice from Caryn Mears
    Dave Mears '75 USNA Ret.
    Mollie Mears '03, USS HOWARD, San Diego

    After being on the listserve for five years, I've acquired quite a bit of advice about Commissioning Week, not necessarily all mine, or right for everyone. So hopefully it will be useful to some.... I felt it was worth sharing!

    1. Start making your arrangements immediately. We chose to stay in a hotel due to the distance (WA state) and length of stay, (longer than a week).

    2. Have your mid preview houses after you have contacted "Annapolis Accomodations" or "Roomfinders".

    3. If you choose a house, make sure you communicate with the owner
    a. How you are going to get the key.
    b. What to do if something breaks.
    c. When the trash goes out.
    d. How the food, dishes, table clothes should be shared.
    e. How they want the house left... sheets, beds, etc.
    f. If they have any maps of the area.
    g. Do they have VCR/DVD player to record ceremony.
    h. How to work garage door, locks, thermostat, dishwasher, washing machine, etc.
    i. Bring extra hangars whether you are in a house or hotel.

    4. Bring a map of the area.

    5. Arrive for all of the activities, but bring clothing and accessories for every kind of weather. Umbrella and sunscreen, hats, jackets... you name it, we needed it in one week!

    6. Attend the Superintendent's Party. It is a lovely evening, delicious food and a chance to see the company officers and Department heads who have instructed our children at USNA.

    7. Attend the Graduation Ball. It is a chance to see a formal occassion with the Mids dressed in their Mess Dress Uniforms. Be sure to wear your name tags, otherwise it is very difficult to know who others are. It's even best to plan a company get together. We met at the Ball and then later went to a party "out-in" town.

    8. Bring cameras, but have someone else be responsible for photographing the family on Graduation Day. We were able to make a terrific DVD by video taping the entire ceremony ourselves.

    9. Plan on a tremendous amount of traffic in and out of the Academy for all events. Sometimes it would have been better for us to have brought a change of clothes instead of trying to go back to the hotel, get dinner and turn around and get back to the academy in time for the evening activities. We often spent an hour in the car one way to our hotel, which was normally a 10-15 minute drive. Rush hour traffic combined with Academy traffic was horrific.

    10. Plan a meeting the evening before graduation so that you can pass out the tickets. Everyone will need a ticket to get in. That way... if anyone is separated, they can get in on their own accord. The lines at graduation are long for security checks. Bring a smile to endure!

    11. Be prepared to have only four people go inside for Graduation if it should rain. We were lucky and endured the rain outside, but all of the relatives were also able to be a part of it.

    12. Walkie Talkies may even come in handy, but we used cell phones to locate relatives.

    13. Plan to have lunch as soon as graduation is over. We had a lunch served in a room at the hotel. It would work best to do a group thing as the kids realize this is the last time they will actually be able to be together and they are rather melancholy.

    14. Arrange a specific meeting place after the hats go in the air. Meeting "down on the field" is not specific enough. Stay for photos.

    15. Make a copy of the schedules so that everyone has their own. Highlight the places that you intend to go. GO, whether everyone wants to or not! Let your mid know how special this is for you!

    16. Along with the camera, be sure to take lots of film. The disposable cameras work great.

    17. Plan to leave on two days after Graduation if you can. It gives you time to enjoy your graduation and relax as well as clean up after. However, in the hotel, it provided us a day to do some sightseeing. You can also show relatives the yard when it is empty and visit the Mid Store one last time.

    18. Have an early dinner the night before graduation as everyone will want to be up bright and early for graduation. We left our hotel at 6:00AM and had no problems... other than rain. The mids have to sleep in Bancroft that evening, so they have to work out what to do with their bag of clothes on that last night.

    19. Make sure your mid knows which families you want to meet up with and plan get togethers ahead of time.

    20. Buy a large bouquet of flowers and leave a big thank you on the table when you leave.

    After reading this, take what you need, but my most important advice is, CONSULT YOUR MIDSHIPMAN SON OR DAUGHTER about what he or she wants for Commissioning Week!

    Graduation Hat Toss
    The "hat toss" is now a traditional ending the graduation and commissioning ceremonies. It originated at the Naval Academy in 1912. Before then, graduates were required to serve two years in the fleet as Midshipmen before being commissioned as officers in the Navy, thus they had a need for their Midshipmen hats. The Class of 1912, commissioned at graduation, was issued officer caps, and in a spontaneous gesture, tossed the Midshipmen hats into the air. This "hat toss" has since become the symbolic end to the four-year program at Annapolis.
    And then.....

    For information about the next move, check out Naval Services FamilyLine, which is an information and referral organization for all sea service familiesl. Check out the relocation tab on Lifelines...LOTS of good info there about moving, setting up your electricity, phone, etc. Of course, my first advice is to talk to the housing office where you will be stationed...lots of folks with rentals post them at the housing office, knowing they will have responsible tenants!