Class of 1971 – USNA
Today we had the distinct pleasure of kicking off our Another Link in the Chain (ALITC) on a rather warm day in Annapolis as the Class of 2021 arrived in Annapolis ready to roll as the newest class of Plebes. We had 30 plus classmates and wives join us at the Parents Picnic Tent along with Parent Chapters from all around the US with display tables. We will be publishing photo’s of our class memorabilia that was prominently displayed our class website and in future Shipmate column.
Last evening on Wednesday 28 June – 30 plus classmates celebrated together in Annapolis our 50th anniversary of becoming midshipmen and classmates. My comments to our classmates that follow should be of interest to all of us in renewing our classmate friendship and some memories regarding our I-Day in Annapolis:
“Classmates – congratulations are in hand as we celebrate together our 50th anniversary of our I-Day which occurred at this very hour –1800 — Wednesday 28 June 1967. I am reminded of the fact that we were 1384 that entered the gates of USNA 50 years ago today from 50 states and 9 countries from around the globe. It was 87 degrees and the humidity was 85% .. it was a sultry hot beginning to our first day in our new home called the Yard. As we made our way through the day getting our first Navy haircut and proceeding through “hurry up and wait” lines in the uniform and tailor shop, mid store issue rooms, etc. we ended the day forming up in the hall and marching down to T-Court in our Civilian clothes (Napsters were in the USMC and Navy uniforms). We took our seats in T Court and listen to band play some patriotic music and then at 1800 we rose and stood to the National Anthem followed by a prayer by Chaplain McComas. We remained standing as our Commandant, Captain Kinney asked us to pledge our commitment to becoming midshipmen in the United States Navy. Classmates – I ask you now to stand and repeat your oath of office – the same one we uttered 50 years ago.”
“Repeat after me – I (state your name) having been appointed a Midshipmen in the United States Navy, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign, and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Admiral Draper Kauffman then approached the microphone and said “Welcome aboard Class of 1971! Be seated. Before making my remarks to the Class of 1971, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations and appreciation to the parents and guardians present. These young men owe a sincere debt of gratitude to you who have successfully guided them to this day of achievement.
Now to you gentlemen, who collectively constitute the Class of 1971! There is much I want to say to you, but this is neither the time nor the place for a lengthy exhortation. I will be brief.
“First, who are you? Five minutes ago you were 1384 individuals with no unity of identification. Now you are members of the Brigade of Midshipmen, the finest all-around group of young men in this or any other country … the finest all-around group of young men in this or any other country. That, gentlemen, is quite a statement – is it just a prejudiced remark by a prejudiced Superintendent? No. It is not. Let me document who you are.
“Academically, very few colleges in the country can equal you. 71% of you came from the top 20% of your class in high school, and almost all of you were in the top 40%. Your average college board exams were well above 600 in both math and verbal. 47% of you are members of honor societies. Almost half of your entire class won scholarships to other universities and colleges – and turned them down. There were 228 of you who were National merit Scholars. In other words you have been carefully selected intellectually. But – it is the leadership potential that no other group can touch you.
“32% of you were student body or student council Presidents; 80% of you participated in varsity sports; 65% of you were service club members and well over 120 of you were Eagle Scouts. I could go on and on, but believe me when I say that we have accomplished well our first job of assuring the Brigade of Midshipmen remains the finest group of young men anywhere in the world assembled in one place. This is an awesome fact and a true one and one I do not ever want you to forget.
“Next, I would like to ask you another question. Where are you going? What is your ultimate destination? I will answer that for you for you see gentlemen – you will furnish a major share of the top naval leadership of the United States of America during the twenty years spanning the turn of the century.
“It is a sobering fact that there is a strong probability will be the Admiral Nimitz or Admiral Bull Halsey of a major war on which the survivability of our country may depend. May God grant that we don not have that war, but little reason gives us little reason for optimism. In any case, we can be certain that many of you will command major task force or fleets of ships and aircraft, and we know all of you who graduate and make the Navy or Marine Corps your career will spend most of your lives in command of men.
“I have described, briefly, who you are and where you are today. I have briefly described your destination. I will now discuss briefly your first yea particularly the first summer of your voyage toward that destination. Keep in mind this is a naval college for naval officers. It is far more than a civilian college. It will give to you – much much more than will a civilian college. It will demand from you much much more than a civilian college. The academics will be tough and you will be challenged each semester over the next four years. In addition to your academic education you will receive here the absolutely finest of military education. Yes you will leave here as college graduates – but far more important, you will leave here as commissioned officers in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. You will be become what we call sub-specialists in a lot of areas – you will command ships, squadrons, submarines and shore establishments. But above all you will command and lead men.
“Ideally, it is my desire that no man graduate from this Academy as a commissioned Officer under whose command I would be not be personally happy to serve! The critical problem here is that we must produce men who can command in war not just in peace, in hurricanes or typhoons, not just on glassy seas or smooth air, and for long periods of difficult crisis, in some case for days weeks and months. In other words, performance under severe stress or strain for prolonged periods of time.
“We approximate these conditions as closely as we can here at the Academy by placing heavy pressure on you during your plebe summer and plebe year. This is called the “plebe system” or “plebe indoctrination.” It is closely supervised by the Commandant of Midshipmen and the officers of his staff, and executed by the midshipmen themselves. This summer a truly select group of second class will primarily run the plebe detail ad during the academic year it will be run by the first class just as you gentlemen will run it for the class of ’74.
“To summarize: First, you gentlemen have just become members of the Brigade of Midshipmen, the finest group of young men in the world today – never forget that overriding fact. Second, I do not exaggerate when I say the country needs you. Why? Because it will be your responsibility to furnish a major share of the naval leadership of that country in the period of the next 20-40 years. Third, the Academic program here is a tough one but it will give you as broad an education as you could receive anywhere. Fourth, your military education must be outstanding as it is essential to your mission in life, and fifth, it is vitally important that you be given the opportunity to prove under pressure that you are men in the best and comprehensive meaning of that word, and that you are capable of leading your fellow men in the time of war.
“Gentlemen, you face a major challenge. It will take courage and determination to become the Naval Officer or Marine Officer that you want to be. You have the courage and determination.
Welcome aboard Class of 1971!
(Note: VADM Ted Carter current Supt at USNA actually quoted a part of this speech today for the benefit of Class of 1971 and for the Class of 2021 to hear)
Tonight I would like to replicate what the chow call would have been for the evening meal on Thursday 29 June 1967:
“Sir – you have ten minutes until evening meal formation. The menu for evening meal is Broiled Salisbury Steak, Brown Gravy, Lyonnais Potatoes, Buttered Fresh Succotash, Bread-Butter, Butter Almond Ice Cream, Coffee-milk. Sir, the movies in town are: The Capitol Hang ‘em High, at the Circle The Graduate, at the State The Dirty Dozen, and at Parole Bullit. Sir there are 175 days until Christmas Leave, 334 days until the ring dance, 340 days until graduation and 151 days until we Beat Army, Sir! You now have 9 minutes until evening meal formation.
The evening concluded with sea stories and shared stories of fifty years ago.