The Navy is steeped in tradition and culture. Over centuries of development, the Navy has accumulated many terms that help to keep the tradition and culture true. As you are touring the Yard (campus), sponsoring a Midshipman, or becoming a new member of a Navy family, you may overhear some terms that sound rather odd to the layman’s ears. To help you understand the Navy terms, I’m going to tell you a little sea story (tale) of my first few days on the Yard.
Upon arrival on the Yard, on I-Day (Induction Day) as a Plebe (freshman), I was asked if I needed to use the head (bathroom) before beginning my indoctrination. The scuttlebutt (gossip) was that the plebes were going to be taken through an assembly line where we were to pick up our uniforms, covers (hats), and necessities before taking a tour. That’s not all - the sophomores, youngsters (juniors), and firsties (seniors) began immediately training the plebes, showing them how to salute, march in formation (a formal arrangement of troops), and get a deep understanding on the gouge (what’s up) at the Academy.
One of the first orders of business I was taught was how to be squared away (in order and taking pride in appearance). I quickly learned that being squared away didn’t just pertain to my uniform, but to my room as well. We marched in formation into Bancroft Hall, our dormitory, navigated the ladder (stairwell), progressed through the passageway (hallway) where I was assigned to a deck (floor), a rack (bed), and a roommate. The bulkhead (wall) was bare, I knew I wouldn’t be hanging the typical college posters in this dorm.
I was beat after my first day as a Plebe. We rose early the next morning, eager to get some chow (food) before the morning colors (raising the flags). After my morning meal, I was taught about the deckplates (a 3X3 steel square creating an access hole in a boat, which enables mechanics to get to hidden hatches or electronics under the deck, that can also be found symbolically in the passageways where plebes must make their turns). Oh, the deckplates! Not only did I learn that I have to do my facing movements (crisp, sharp turns), I learned that this was a favorite tool for pranking by other members of the Brigade (student body).
I’m honored to be the mascot of the USNA Midshipmen. I hope that as my time here on the Yard continues, I will be commissioned and placed in the billet (job) at a duty station (location where a sailor is assigned) where I can serve my country with honor and dignity.