USNA Parent Survival Guide ~ Second Class Year Home
Rights & Privileges 2 for 7 Class Rings
Pros & Cons of Cars Responsibilities Ring Dance
Mid Parking PTR Physicals
2nd Class Summer Starter Loans What's a Marine?

Rights & Privileges

Second Class
Shoulder Board

One of the long awaited privileges of Second Class year is the right to have a car! However, it can't be parked on the yard. There has to be a willing sponsor, a local garage or a pay lot where your Mid can park it, but Second Class Mids can have wheels. The moment they don their Second Class shoulderboards, an amazing array of cars appear from nowhere. There is a new sense of freedom. Not only can you now go away weekends, but you have something to go away in. They can drive their own cars when they go to football games (home, Army/Navy or Navy/Air Force) when the games are in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, or even NY.

Other privileges: They can exit and enter the Yard in civilian clothes while on liberty. This is a great change and widely anticipated. Second Class Mids alos get liberty on Tuesday nights and most weekends.

Second Class Sleeve

Second Class Collar Insignia
(Worn on right and left collar)

Pros & Cons of Having a Car

A car allows them to exercise their new found freedoms...
but it could also be the source of problems.

Pros: They want a car! Having a car has it's advantages. Mids can get home and back easily if they live within driving distance. You may actually see them more often. You will meet their friends too because now they can easily invite a whole group of Mids to come with them. You don't have to worry about how they will get to the airport. You won't have to buy them tickets to come home. They love having wheels. Whether or not they use them enough to "justify" the expense is a valid question, but they now have the right to a luxury in their lives that they can access and enjoy regularly. Sometimes it's hard to live in a situation that has almost nothing in common with their outside peers. Cars seem to even the score. Mids are not just Mids. They are young Americans and nothing defines Americans like our love affair with the automobile. Mids belong to our culture and although they live in a decidedly different culture than most young people they share the desire for a vehicle. The biggest pro to helping your Mid get a car may well be: because they really want one.

Cons: Having a car may tempt them to make some bad judgments, or to spend less time on their studies. 2/C year is very tough academically. Wires, thermo, boats and major course studies increase in difficulty. Any Mid who thinks they can deviate from their study and course preparation regiment may see their grades dip. Additionally, the stakes, and expectations, are now different. Getting terminated at USNA now results in recoopment of the cost of the education ... and the SUPT/CMDT will not be as lenient when reviewing the records of those that make mistakes. These two factors suggest that caution is appropriate!!!!!!!

Parking is always a hassle. They move their cars around constantly as they try to find the best parking spot. If it snows, they need to go shovel their cars out. Sometimes they have to walk a mile or more just to keep the snow off their cars. If their car is parked on the street, they run the risk of having it damaged or broken into. Annapolis residents have no patience for midshipmen who take valuable and scarce parking spaces just to leave a vehicle sitting all week. Mids regularly pay parking fines--even getting their cars towed which is very expensive.

Parking is available at commercial lots--with a looooong walk each way. They may not mind the walk, but it sure is a pain in the rain and snow, not to mention hauling laundry, books, or anything else to and fro. The parking fees are in addition to absurd insurance costs (in Maryland--be prepared for a male under 24 to shell out serious $$), gas, maintenance, etc. Maintenance is another problem. If the car breaks down, they are not free during the day to take it to the shop or pick it up when it is done. They won't have much left in weekly pay after covering all their bills. Mids with cars are often too broke to go anywhere.

During summer break the Midshipmen are off to all parts of the globe. Where are the vehicles being stowed, you might ask? You guessed it, on the street, in a paid lot, at a sponsor's house. If it gets towed and the Mid has to pay storage fees, it adds up very quickly! You won't believe what a tow and two weeks of storage will cost after a return from summer cruise.

Some people say: Suck it up and wait until 1/C year (or at least until after Xmas). It seems like cars are more trouble than they are worth.

Where to Park

Some 2/C park their cars at the stadium. Monthly permits are available. Although the stadium is owned by the Naval Academy Athletic Association, the monthly parking program is run by Towne Park. Their phone number is 410-267-6111. Parking is $25/month or $60/3 months but there is a list of rules and regulations that must be followed. For example, the cars must be removed from the lot no later than 6:00 pm on the day before stadium events such as football games. There are also two additional parking options in downtown Annapolis that are run by Towne Park. Monthly passes are available in the back lot at the Loews Annapolis hotel or in the West Garrett Garage (275 West St) for $80/month. These locations do not carry the special events restriction on parking. Call Carrie at Towne Park for more information. To open a printable file with all the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium and Towne Park information, rules and regulations, as well as a contract to sign and mail in, click here.

There are two municipal (city) garages downtown (Hillman and Gotts Court) downtown managed by Park America at (410)263-9749. There is an extensive waiting list (up to a three year wait!) for monthly permits at both garages. Daily parking at the garages is $8/day but the garages do fill and daily parkers are not assured of a parking spot.

There is a county parking garage (Whitmore) located at the intersection of Clay and W. Washington Streets at 37 Clay Street also managed by Park America at (410)269-0014. This garage is a bargain at $4/day. Monthly parking permits are allowed only for county and some state employees.

On-street parking anywhere in downtown Annapolis isn't a good long-term parking option. Much of downtown Annapolis is part of an area issuing residential parking permits. In these areas, parking without a permit is
limited to 2 hours on Monday-Friday and 3 hours and Saturday-Sunday. Fines for overstaying your time run from $25 to $50 and are limited to one per day (not per stay) if the car is not moved. Cars are regularly towed. Parking in handicapped zones without a proper permit, parking in yellow or red striped zones (even extending into a red or yellow striped zone), and parking blocking driveways or fire hydrants are also ticketable and towable offenses.

Many 2/C park their vehicles at the homes of their Sponsors. Keep in mind that not all Sponsors can or want to have additional vehicles at their homes. There are areas in Annapolis with no on-street parking at all (cars must be parked on the individual's own property), there are areas that limit parking to a fixed number of vehicles per residence, and there
are areas where the homeowners' associations limit overnight parking of cars on the streets. Also consider that your 2/C will need to find a way to get to and from the Sponsor's home to access the vehicle for each use.

So there are definitely reasons not to have a car in Second Class year! The primary one being cost, but the distraction of having something other than academics as a focus of attention may ultimately prove to be the more significant reason to hold off on the purchase of an automobile.

Second Class Summer

The summer after their Youngster year is called Second Class Summer. It shows midshipmen all the various options available to them after graduation. Midshipmen are introduced to life as an enlisted sailor by being paired with a work center supervisor aboard ship. They also get some time off to come home or to travel. As they move up the ladder of USNA experiences they mature and dream bigger. You may not be seeing them as often as when they were Youngsters.

PROTRAMID - If not assigned to Plebe detail second class Mids attend PROTRAMID. It consists of three weeks of training, which includes an in-depth introduction to the aviation, submarine, and Marine Corps communities.

SURFACE CRUISE - Assignment to a surface cruise entails living and working on a Navy ship. second class Mids on cruise wear dungarees and are assigned to a petty officer running mate who will expose them to the duties and responsibilities of the junior enlisted. They rotate between the ship’s departments, including engineering, combat systems, operations, deck and navigation/admin. During their cruise, they gain insight into the daily shipboard routine which includes standing under instruction watches, both inport and underway, as well as participating in any special evolutions such as underway replenishment, gunnery exercises, small boat operations, engineering drills, damage control drills and anchoring.

SUBMARINE CRUISE - Assignment to a submarine cruise entails living and working on either a fast attack or ballistic missile submarine. Second Class Mids are assigned a petty officer running mate who exposes them to the duties and responsibilities of the junior enlisted. It is likely that they will rotate between the ship’s departments, including engineering, weapons, and navigation/operations. While in each department they gain insight to the daily shipboard routine, maintenance, work center organization, and division officer administration. Additionally, they are expected to stand under instruction watches, both inport and underway, as well as during any special evolution such as engineering drills, and surfacing and submerging the boat.

CSNTS - Sailing training block. For those on the sailing team, they can choose an incredible option to sail for one of their training tours.

2 for 7

The "Point of No Return," is called Two for Seven, meaning two years down and seven more years to serve - two more at the Academy and 5 more in the fleet after graduation. This is a big decision made at the begining of the Second Class academic year. Many Mids consider both options - to stay and to leave. Midshipmen can leave at the end of their Second Class summer training without incurring any further military obligation. They walk away with two years of undergraduate study completed and no debt owed. However, the hardest years are behind them. They have seen and understand the many career options available to them and they have experienced the teamwork and pride of belonging to their company, their class and to the Navy. They sweat the committment to what seems to be a very long time in their young lives. Once the decision is made, they relax and feel comfortable with their choice, but crossing that line looms large for some.


Second Class year is generally acknowledged as the toughest year academically. It provides detailed study in major courses, and professional subjects to enchance the leadership skills and technical competence of the Second Classman in preparation for their assuming command of the Brigade after Commissioning Week.

Second Class Mids have the responsibility of training the Plebes coming up behind them. They take this job seriously. They have been known to talk about how much easier it is on the new Plebes than when they were Plebes. They may contemplate strident corrections of out of line Plebes. By experiencing it, they learn how to lead, how to correct someone, and what works and what doesn't work. It's a new experience being the Upperclassman in charge of properly guiding the younger Mids. The training of an incoming class looks different from the top than the bottom! They learn how hard it is to lead and they learn how to do it properly. Just like with Plebe year, it has it's frustrations, but maturity does lend the advantage of a wider vision of what is happening.

Physical Training Requirements

All Second Class Mids must pass the "Tower Jump" and the "40 Year Swim" to graduate. The "40 Year Swim" means swimming one half mile in 40 minutes, fully clothed.

Starter Loans

Each year, in the February/March time frame, the Academy holds a Bankers Open House. At this open house financial institutions (USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Navy Mutual this past year) are invited to present their package of products and services to Second Class midshipmen. During these presentations there will be an opportunity for the Second Class to, among other things, set up what is called a starter loan. It is an unsecured loan that permits midshipmen to contract with a bank or credit union for an amount of money that this year was as high as $20,000. The money can be used for a variety of purposes and is payable over 48 months at a low interest rate (1.75% fixed APR w/ NFCU for example). While interest does accrue the loan payments do not begin until 3 months after commissioning. There are other basic requirements for each financial institution, so encourage your Mid to be sure to read all the print.

Class Ring

The class ring is a huge deal for the midshipmen. The rings come in all shapes and sizes, with every type of stone and setting you can imagine. What they all have in common is their class year and class crest. It represents the connection to the Academy and to their classmates. Every year the Midshipmen design their own class rings, a custom that started with the Class of 1869. They will wear their rings with pride and distinction throughout their military career and probably for the rest of their lives. Many long retired Navy officers wear their class ring next to their wedding bands. Often wedding bands are custom made to fit next to the class ring. The sides of their ring may get really worn down--the bottom of the

The "hands"-some men of the Class of '83!
crest on one side and the bottom of the year on the other worn almost smooth. But many years from now, USNA grads will say that their class ring is as much a part of their hand as their fingers.

Every year, a contract is signed with one company to produce that year's ring. The jeweler who wins the contract is the only one who may reproduce rings for that class year. On occasion, other jewelers who bid for the contract that class year may make crest pins and/or miniatures for that class year. Naval Academy rings are to be owned solely by Naval Academy Graduates and the families of deceased graduates. Please note that the jewelers are under contract not to make rings for non-graduates or collectors.

If you need to have a ring replaced or repaired please contact:

Bailey, Banks & Biddle
attn. Margaret Keifer
Chestnut at 16th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Herff Jones (Dieges & Clust)
attn. Sonja Beiler
P.O. Box 170
Manassas, VA 22110
Tiffany & Company
5th Avenue and 57th Street
New York, NY 10003


Naval Academy Service Center
148 E Broadway
Owatonna, MN 55060

The Balfour Company
attn. Henry Wittich
7307 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21204

For additional service/stones/jewelry items, including miniatures & wedding bands, please contact:

W.R. Chance Jewelry
attn. Bruce Chance
110 Main Street
Annapolis, MD 21402
Tilghman Company
44 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21402
Visitor's Center

Naval Academy Mid Store

101 Wilson Road USNA
Annapolis, MD 21402-5081
fax 410-263-3790
J.E. Caldwell & Company
attn. Elaine Fisher
1339 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

For interesting stiories about lost and found USNA Class rings, click here.

Ring Dance

The Ring Dance for the Second Class is as much a right-of-passage as Herdon is for the fourth-class. At this very special event, Second Class Mids officially receive their class rings and have them blessed by dipping them into the "waters of the seven seas," a bowl of water collected from all seven seas. As the tradition now unfolds, Navy chaplains gather and mix water from the seven seas, then dip each ring into this water which symbolizes the mids being "wedded" to the Navy. It is a solemn tradition that the midshipmen take very seriously. Here, at this formal dance at the end of their junior year, Second Classmen are officially permitted to wear their class rings.

The Ring Dance itself is more akin to a "dining-in" than a prom, although if you have never been to a dining-in, a prom is a close analogy. The dance is a formal affair. Anyone in attendance will see the midshipmen at their spit-and-polish formal mess-dress best. The gowns worn by the ladies are breath-taking--very elegant and sophisticated. The dance begins with a dinner (with entree choices like filet mignon, chicken breast, grilled tuna, or grilled portabello mushrooms). After dinner, there is the dipping ceremony and dancing. If weather is favorable, the dance is held outside on the landing between Rickover and Nimitz . If the weather is not cooperative, it is moved inside of Dahlgren Hall. To conclude the dance, they have a spectacular fireworks show.

The Ring Dance was established as an Academy tradition in 1925. It replaced a more rowdy custom where the Second Classmen put on their rings after completing their final navigation examination. As the Second Class left the classroom building, the Firsties grabbed them and dragged them to Dewey Basin where they were then thrown into the Severn River. Unfortunately, in 1924 a Second Class midshipman named Leicester R. Smith did not come to the surface after being thrown into the water. He had apparently hit his head on the seawall and no one noticed that he did not come up. Midshipman Smith's drowning prompted the Academy to change the manner in which the midshipmen received their ring.

Pre-Commissioning Physicals
Second Class Mids spend one day doing a battery of tests to determine which career paths are open to them. Their body fat index is determined and this number can qualify or disqualify them from Marines. Their vision, height and arm reach numbers determine whether they will be allowed to pursue an aviation career. At the end of the day they are checked off for options available. It isn't until the pre-commissioning physicals that Mids really know if they can be a Marine or a pilot. A lot depends upon the measurements and resulting option checks of this day.
What is a Marine?
One of the serive selection choices is Marines. This is a different branch of the Navy that deserves some explanation. Marines are first and foremost combat riflemen and women. They are the front landing assault team. They attack and secure the beach in an invasion. They drop in by air and take the first terrain so others may come in and hold it. Marines are the point warriors of a naval based invasion group. All other aspects of the Corps serve in support of the men and women up front with weapons in their hands and mud on their faces, including air support, artillery, armour, communications, and logistics. It is a totally different experience and task than the Navy which rules the seas. There are no ex-marines. The Corps is a brotherhood until death and even beyond.

The scope of operational opportunity for a marine is vast: A marine can serve in the pentagon, in an attack aircraft, in a Bradley or Abrams, on a an artillery or mortar crew, as a cook, a paymaster, an instructor, or chaplain. Recon marines drive boats, make parachute jumps, and don scuba gear. What makes them different from any other service is that at any instant they can drop their pencils or trombones or soup kettles and pick up a rifle and engage and kill the enemy with a skill not equaled by any other force on the planet. There is no single element more deadly than a marine and his rifle.

Others in the Navy may call them Jarheads, and they may call Navy personnel Squids, but others dare not call any of us either, for together they will both rise up and deliver a powerful case of whoop-ass, back to back. They are our brothers in arms, our mean green fighting machine, our few, our proud, our Marines.