From the Navy Times comes this story of annual ritual of the Herndon Monument climb for the plebe class of midshipmen at the US Naval Academy.
Plebes support their classmates as they struggle to climb the Herndon Monument at the Naval Academy. They are officially no longer plebes once they replace the Dixie cup at the top of the monument with a combination cover. (Photo: Nathan A. Wilkes/Navy)
Each year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy’s plebe (freshman) class form a human pyramid to scale the grease-covered 21-foot tall obelisk. (Photo: Nathan A. Wilkes/Navy)
From the Navy Times:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter issued a challenge to the 2018 plebe class Monday afternoon: Try to beat the 1 hour, 20 minutes it took his class of ’81 to scale the Herndon Monument and replace the plebe Dixie cup with a midshipman’s cover, signifying the end of the grueling plebe year.
The fourth classmen came close at 1 hour, 38 minutes and 36 seconds, when 19-year-old Javarri Beachum stretched his 5-foot-7-inch frame to nudge the cover over the top of the obelisk as the few thousand spectators roared their approval.
Beachum, a native of Port St. Joe, Florida, told reporters he knew he’d be the one to get to the top.”
The full story is here: http://www.navytimes.com
Midshipmen charge the monument.
Navy Midshipman 4th Class Javarri Beachum places a midshipman cover atop the Herndon Monument during the Herndon Climb at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., May 18, 2015. Each year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy’s plebe class form a human pyramid around the 21-foot monument to remove a plebe hat, or dixie cup, that upperclassmen have placed on the top of the obelisk structure, which is covered in lard.
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Wilkes.
From the official website of the US Naval Academy
“U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen from the Class of 2018 conquered the final hurdle of their freshman year during the annual Herndon Monument climb May 18.
“This is a great and iconic moment for each and every one of us at the Academy,” said Vice Adm. Ted Carter, Naval Academy superintendent. “It is an act of teamwork, strength, and perseverance that represents the transformation of being followers as plebes to future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps.”
This year, Midshipman 4th Class Javarri Beachum, from Port St. Joe, Fla., reached the top and replaced the cover in 1:38:36, the fastest time since 2013. According to legend, the plebe who replaces the plebe cover with the midshipmen’s cover will become the first member of the class to become an admiral. So far, the legend has not come true.
“It’s an awesome experience working together with these guys and girls,” said Beachum. “It took our whole class, just pushing together, to get the job done. It isn’t a one-man thing. Everyone contributes.”
The Herndon Climb is considered the capstone of the freshman year at the Naval Academy. Once the freshman class completes this obstacle, they are “plebes no more,” a phrase the midshipmen don’t take lightly.
“It’s so exciting to finally be able to say ‘plebes no more,’” said Midshipman 4th Class Meghan Brophy. “Climbing Herndon was an amazing experience, and we are all feeling so good and looking forward to liberty.”
“I plan to stay active in the company and stay active for the new plebes that will be here soon,” said Midshipman 4th Class Stephen Steckler. “It’s so important for us to keep the motivation up from Herndon and be a positive force as we become upperclassmen.”
The Herndon monument is dedicated to Cmdr. William Lewis Herndon, who died in an attempt to save the crew of his steamer ship Central America during a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 1857.”