By lex, on June 27th, 2007
Back when I was a plebe in the summer of ’78, with my back up against the bulkhead in 95 degree heat and 100% humidity, forced to hold an M-1 rifle horizontally out in front of me single-armed while a crimson-faced first class midshipman swore spittle flecked oaths on his mother’s grave averring that I could so by God pull my chin in just that much closer to my spine even as I threw my chest out, because bracing up – suckish as it was – was nothing compared to actual combat.
They’re probably working on some new lines, right about now*:
As he reported to the Naval Academy yesterday to begin the arduous six-week indoctrination of incoming freshmen, Jed Lomax didn’t bear the look of fear so familiar on those who first arrive on the campus.
Lomax, 21, said he figured that Plebe Summer, notorious for its 16-hour days of grueling physical and mental training, would be nothing compared with running convoys in Iraq every day for seven months.
“It’s a relief,” said the former petty officer second class, who returned from his deployment in April.
Also quoted: A former USMC sergeant, Academy gate guard and current midshipman who has an interesting point to make:
Patrick McConnell said he learned a lot about the academy as a Marine sentry for 2 1/2 years. He reported as a guard just days before Vice Adm. Richard J. Naughton, then the academy’s superintendent, had gotten into an altercation with a Marine who asked him for identification as he came into the gates. Naughton later resigned after an investigation faulted his leadership style.
“It’s high-stakes here,” said the former sergeant, who lost that rank to become a midshipman. “If you step the wrong way, it’s noticed a lot. I was really surprised something that minuscule just got blown into something so big.”
When the bells rang, and midshipmen strode idly by, assured of the bright future that lay ahead of them as they chatted about classes and relationships, McConnell often dreamed of another life as he stood in the sun all day and checked IDs or searched cars.
“This place opened my eyes to a whole new world,” said McConnell, who also instructed newly graduated midshipmen in the Marine Corps martial arts program in Quantico, Va.
Although he had blazed through the enlisted ranks, leading from 35 to 50 men at some points, he was ready to humble himself once more.
“If you lose your ability to follow, you lose your ability to lead.”
Preach it, brother.
*Baltimore Sun, June 27, 2007 –Ed