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On Induction Day at the US Naval Academy the class of 2022 arrives

By RACHAEL PACELLA | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: June 28, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Thursday is Induction Day at the Naval Academy, and shortly after dawn some 1,200 incoming freshmen began processing into the school.

Students from across the country visit stations where they are issued a uniform, get a medical exam, get a haircut and learn to salute.

Out of 16,086 applicants, a total of 873 men and 338 women were selected to join the Class of 2022.

Of those, 208 come from the Naval Academy Preparatory School. And some students were previously enlisted, 48 from the Navy and 16 from the Marine Corps.

Students come from every state as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, and there are 14 international students. They hail from Cambodia, Cameroon, Egypt, Gambia, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Romania, Taiwan and Thailand.

Some have a parent who attended before them. There are 19 daughters of graduates and 48 sons of graduates.

The Class of 1992 has at least six children entering the Academy this year, according to class member Chris Camacho, who was outside Alumni Hall Thursday morning dropping his daughter off. If they stay all four years, they'll graduate exactly 30 years after their parents.

How does Camacho feel about his daughter entering the Academy?

"Confetti and air horns," he said.

He will exit the service as a captain the same time his daughter, Moira, is expected to graduate. It's a shame he won't serve with this class, he said.

The students were engaged with their future careers before arriving at the Academy, he said.

"They know more about cyber warfare than some of our more senior people do," he said.

Parents and students have also already connected and forged relationships online long before arriving in Annapolis, Camacho and his wife Kristina said.

Jay Joyce of Leesburg, Virginia made blue and gold buttons for the occasion, with a photo of himself and a photo of his son, Jack. He is also a 1992 graduate, and Jack's mom Tara Lee is a 1991 graduate.

"We know he's prepared, but we also know it's a challenge," Jay Joyce said.

West Point graduate John Callahan of New York was dropping his son Jack off Thursday as well.

His daughter went to West Point, but Jack went Navy because he wants to be a pilot.

"He's the first breaking tradition, breaking ranks," John said.

They made the pick based on what the best fit was for his son, not a football game.

John Callahan and his wife Tracy couldn't believe how fast 18 years went by.

"This is our job," Tracy Callahan said. "To let you go."

"I think I'll be fine," Jack Callahan said. "I'm ready to go."

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Parents need not worry, said Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Robert Chadwick, who was greeting families outside Alumni Hall as the new midshipmen arrived. The students are supervised 24/7 — what parent wouldn't want that?

Inside Alumni Hall, the plebes were checking in and going through a series of stations. At the first one they are issued a name tag, and they get an order.

“The first and last words out of your mouth from now on are either sir or ma’am. Do you understand?” They’re told by the recent graduates who are helping to process them.

Next they get a copy of Reef Points, a handbook they will study all summer. There are more than 1,000 facts in the pocket-sized blue book that they will have to memorize as plebes.

The plebes visit a barber station, where the school’s 21 barbers and beauticians will shave the heads of male plebes and given women regulation haircuts. That means hair to the jawline but not past the chin, and trimmed in the back high enough that it won’t touch the collar of their uniforms, lead barber Calvin Thompson III said. One plebe, Joseph Buckley of southern Maryland, came in with at least a foot and a half of hair to shave off. He didn’t mind, he said. He was tired of it after four years of growth.

But others aren’t always ready, Thompson said. Sometimes people get teary-eyed, and the barbers offer reassurance.

“We try to put a good face on for them. Lighten the mood,” he said. “Do what you have to do to get through six weeks, then you’re on your way.”

Some women get a trim before arriving, but not Mary O’Flaherty of Norfolk. Her mom is also a 1992 graduate.

“My mom made me wait because that’s what she did,” O’Flaherty said.

The plebes snake through Alumni Hall, following a line of tape on the ground, and are issued everything they will need for Plebe Summer — clothing, a swimsuit, shoes, a canteen, uniforms and more.

All their new belongings are gathered in a big white bag they sling over their shoulder. The last stop in Alumni Hall is at a station called customs and courtesies, where recently commissioned second lieutenants teach them five basic responses, how to salute and how to properly ask a question on a bulk head. The station takes about five minutes.

“The five basic responses are ‘sir yes sir,’ ‘sir no sir,’ ‘sir aye aye sir,’ ‘sir I’ll find out sir,’ ‘sir no excuses sir,’” 2nd Lt. David Perez said.

At 6 p.m., they’ll take their official Oath of Office in Tecumseh Court, promising that as appointed midshipmen in the Navy they will support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Then, it is Plebe Summer. For six weeks, the students won’t have access to television, movies, music or the Internet, according to a press release from the Academy. They will have limited cellphone access, and are allowed to make only three calls.

They won’t see their families again until Plebe Parent’s weekend Aug. 9-12.

©2018 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
Visit The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) at www.hometownannapolis.com
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