Midshipmen get their first taste of the fleet
When learning to swim, you have to get in the water.
It's a new experience. It can be scary or exciting, but each moment you stay above the water makes you more confident in your own abilities - and it makes the next time that much easier.
This first-step moment takes many forms in life. Every baseball player has his first time at bat, every mother picks up her baby for the first time and every student has his first day at school.
For midshipmen starting their second year at the United States Naval Academy (USNA), the summer of their "Youngster" year affords one such moment.
"I have never been to a 'regular' college, but I think almost everything is different," said Midshipman 3rd Class Sofia DiAntonio. "There's a saying at the school that 'it's not college.' It's a lot of hard work, but I think the payoffs are well worth it - I would definitely do it again."
DiAntonio and five of her classmates got underway aboard guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) this summer for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. The three-week embark was part of a long-standing tradition known as the "Youngster Cruise," in which second-year students are given the chance to experience life at sea.
"Honestly, I was kind of scared at first," said Midshipman 3rd Class Triston Marasco, who said that leaving the classroom was somewhat challenging. "It's my first time being underway and seeing the actual fleet. I wondered how the Sailors would react to me being there while they're trying to do their job - it was a learning experience at first."