By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Wilkes, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen from the Class of 2018 conquered the final hurdle of their freshman year during the Herndon Climb event, May 18.
Every year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy's plebe (freshman) 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 midshipmen cover.
"This is a great and iconic moment for each and every one of us at the Academy," said Vice Adm. Ted Carter, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. "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, Florida, 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 the obstacle, they are "plebes no more", a phrase that the class doesn'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, North Carolina, in 1857.