The Long Line of Honor at the Naval Academy

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Long Line of Honor at the Naval Academy


In June 1942, I was graduated from Robert E. Lee Senior High School, Jacksonville, Fla., and thrust out into a world that was at war. Thus began my quest to be admitted to the Naval Academy and my reason for concern with the slipping standards at that school.

I had received a letter from the Navy explaining my performance in high school earned me a waiver of most of the academic entrance exams to the academy, except for math and history. I attended Georgia Military College and met the remaining requirements, but the war caught up with me. I passed up aviation training with the Army Air Corps and Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

I joined the Merchant Marine as a Cadet/Midshipman (Engineering) and spent nearly a year at school and aboard a Liberty ship in the Atlantic and in the Pacific War Zones. My appointment to Annapolis came while in port in Townsville, Australia, April 1944. And as luck would have it our ship, the SS John G. Todd, docked in San Francisco during the final days of May 1944.

On June 12, 1944, after a tumultuous five-day journey across the country by train I reported to the United States Naval Academy and a few days later was sworn into the U. S. Navy as a midshipman. After the "Plebe Summer," which is a rigorous physical and motivational period, the upper-classmen returned and the hazing and other forms of indoctrination began. It would not let up until the end of our plebe year. I believe the hazing served a rather satisfactory purpose. I will always believe I am a better man for it and would not have it otherwise.

Which is why I'm writing today.

As a midshipman, I was instructed in the ways of the Navy for four long and hard and sometimes difficult years. At no time while I was there, or since, have I ever felt anything but pride for what I was doing and a profound gratitude for being a part of an establishment of such tried and true and honored traditions.

I graduated and proceeded directly to flight training. I have flown every type and category of fixed wing aircraft that was in the Navy inventory up to the time of my retirement. I am grateful for my life and experience in the Navy.

Lately, I have come to realize that the Naval Academy is not the same institution it was when I went there. It has become a Navy college at Annapolis. It no longer teaches real hands on knowledge of marine engineering, ordnance and gunnery, and navigation and seamanship. …

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