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Around The Fleet

Plebes No More

Class of 2020 Completes Iconic Herndon Climb

U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen from the Class of 2020 conquered the final hurdle of their freshman year during the annual Herndon Monument climb May 22.


Every year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy's plebe class form a human pyramid around the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument to remove a plebe hat, or "dixie cup," that upperclassmen have placed on the top of the obelisk monument and replace it with the midshipman cover.

This year, Midshipman 4th Class Joe McGraw, a political science major, reached the top and replaced the cover in 2:21:21.
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.


"I felt like I was on top of the world, but it's all about my classmates and it's all about the team," said McGraw.

The Herndon Climb is considered the capstone of the freshman year at the Naval Academy. Once the freshman class completes the obstacle, they are "plebes no more", a phrase that the class doesn't take lightly.

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, North Carolina, in 1857.