Midshipman faces discipline after scaling Naval Academy Chapel for traditional stunt
By SELENE SAN FELICE | The Capital | Published: December 12, 2017
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Naval Academy lore claims a midshipman who can get his cap — called a cover — atop the chapel’s obelisk will earn relaxed restrictions, or carry-on.
The midshipman who climbed more than 200 feet to plant his cover at the legendary spot late last week will receive the opposite of that, an academy spokesman said Monday.
Lt. Cmdr. David McKinney said the unnamed mid faces serious consequences for the dangerous stunt in the days leading up to the Army-Navy football game Saturday in Philadelphia.
“We’re incredibly disappointed that a midshipman would break the rules and do something so dangerous to put his life at risk for a stunt like this. He is being held accountable for his actions in breaking a known set of rules,” McKinney said.
The dangerous nature of the stunt puts it beyond a lighthearted prank and is not something the academy wants to see repeated, McKinney said.
“It’s a wonder the kid didn’t get hurt. At that height, you don’t just get hurt, you die.”
McKinney said the midshipman likely climbed the approximate 225 feet height of the chapel using sophisticated climbing equipment.
Attempting to put a cover on the chapel to gain carry-on is an academy tradition dating back to 1845 (though the current chapel wasn't dedicated until 1908) and has been accomplished a few times.
The Capital reported covers appearing atop the chapel in 2009 and 2015, and a video online shows it being done with a drone in March 2012. Before that, academy officials said it hadn’t been done since the 1970s.
The 2015 incident was reported as a mystery, with no midshipman named or how exactly their cover made it onto the chapel.
In 2009, Midshipman 4th Class Curtis Calabrese, a plebe at the time from Boca Raton, Fla, used coat hangers, duct tape, fishing line and a helium-filled weather balloon to place his cover on the chapel. Calabrese and his assisting midshipmen used engineering to stay on the ground while putting the cover in the sky and earned a week of carry-on for 1,200 other plebes.
In the ’90s, a mid caused significant damage to the chapel dome by attempting to climb it with ice picks.
Monday, the cover was still visible atop the Chapel as well as the climbing line that may have been involved in the effort to scale the building.
The academy is still working out how to get the cover down.
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