A day in the life of a plebe


10-Year Member
Oct 20, 2006
Please take us through a day in the life of a plebe during a day in plebe summer and during a day in the academic year. Thanks.
I would love to answer this...but it would take waaay too long to type.

Just know that the summer is a blur of air horns, yelling, sweating, and running. The AC year is the same...sans air horns, plus homework.

Be patient. You'll find out soon enough.
marine said:
Please take us through a day in the life of a plebe during a day in plebe summer and during a day in the academic year. Thanks.

You should really take advantage of one of the weekend visitations. They commence on Thursday and you will follow your assigned plebe everywhere for the remainder of the weekend. It will give you a great idea what plebe year is all about.
I'm already signed up for one of those weekends. I am certain it will be a valuable experience. Thanks for the replies.
Just think "VCR on fast-forward", and you'll get the idea...
Just curious...do you know what weekend you'll be a drag...err...visiting candidate?
Ouch...pack warm...real freakin' warm.
Letter I wrote to friends about plebe summer

Plebe summer wasn’t too bad. It officially ended last night at 8:00. The basic layout of every day was we would first would wake up at 5:45 every morning, run out with our sheets (called “ripping the sheets” because we had to make our beds a special way and then rip them off in the morning) and in what’s called PT gear which is a white “blue rimmed” t-shirts, USNA, shorts, and our white shoes. Then, with every in our platoon (there are 1200 plebes which make the plebe regiment, 15 companies in the regiment each with approx 80 people each, and two platoons per company with 40 plebes—the plebes in my platoon are now the plebes in my academic year company) lined up on the walls, we would have two mins to run into our rooms, make our racks (there is a way to cheat and make them quickly) and get back to the bulkhead. We had a lot of problems being on time throughout the summer. It took a lot of motivation to make it in two minutes. We would of course get yelled at and do MPT (“motivation” physical training) when we messed up.
After, we had PT with the entire plebe regiment Monday, Tuesday, Thurs, Fri, Sat. Wednesday and Sundays were rest days. We did everything during PT as a regiment. Beginning with stretching, we would then do either group runs, regimental runs, or the dreaded intervals. At the beginning of the summer, we were split into one of six groups depending on our running ability. I was put in group 2, which is for those who run a 5:45-6:10 mile. During group runs, we usually ran around 2~3 miles. Regimental runs sucked. We ran as a regiment in platoon formations around 2.5 miles. Although the place was much slower, it sucked because you had the shorten your stride and the pace constantly changed. Finally, for intervals, we would run as a regiment 1.5 miles over to the big field at the other side of the campus and run around 8 x 400 meter sprints. Once we finished that and were dead, we would run the 1.5 miles back. Once running was finished, we would get to strength workouts. Usually 6 x 40 pushups or a ladder of 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 up and down a few times. Then, the same for sit-ups. After were usually some squats, lunges, and flutter kicks. We quickly got used to it. Ending the PT sessions were stretches again.
Looking back over plebe summer, I really can’t remember how the time passed despite the fact that during plebe summer, the days seemed like an eternity. Basically we attended a lot of briefs with professors about what the school year will be like, with military officers about the expectations while at USNA and in the fleet, and finally after meals about once a week, a national hero. One of the speakers was the Captain of the USS Cole when it was hit by a suicide bomber a few years ago. He talked about how to stay calm and in control, take leadership, don’t panic, etc. He gave us a minute by minute description which was really cool. Another famous speaker was Capt. Coffee, voted the best speaker in the nation a few years ago by several companies or whatever. Anyways, he was shot down during Vietnam and was in Hanoi Hotel, the most hardcore prisoner camp in Vietnam. He was there for like seven years and discussed with us moral willpower, keeping the faith, and honor. Very cool speech. Jim Lovell of Apollo 13, an USNA alum, is supposed to be talking to us in a few weeks. Dick Cheney, another USNA alum, will be speaking soon.
Other than briefs, we spent a day at the shooting range. We shot M-16s at 25 yards away. The targets were small but I earned marksman. We had to shoot like 15 rounds in 30 seconds in the prone position (yea, just like in ghost recon). We then did like 15 rounds in the kneeling position which I stunk at. Finally, 20 rounds standing. We then shot at the pistol range with our M-9s. I loved that. We shot like two sessions of like 100 rounds. I qualified sharpshooter because I kicked butt. By the way, both the rifle marksman and the pistol sharpshooter earned me ribbons for my officer summer whites. I now have three ribbons, my National Defense Ribbon for being in the military during a major time of war, and my two gun ribbons. Hooyah chest candy.
We went to the Marine “E” (Endurance) Course a few times as squads (7 plebes in each squad). Its basically a lot of running with a few obstacles like climbing some netting and jumping over horizontal logs. We went to the Marine “O” (Obstacle) Course twice. Its basically a 100 yards of intense obstacles. The end of the course is a rope climb like 30 feet up. By the time you get to the rope, you’re dead tired, then you have to climb the thing…hard. I loved it though. The last marine course we went to was the Confidence Course aka the Tarzan Assault Course. We start out by balancing on a horizontal log that’s about 6 feet up and then jumping from the edge of the log onto a net like 8 feet away. I crashed and burned the first two times and finally got it the third time. The second time, I grabbed the net but it tore right through my hand and I fell on my neck, ouch. Anyways, once you get on the netting, the fun started. You have on a harness and you basically work your way across horizontal ropes like 30 feet up with a few other obstacles up there. It really works on your height phobia. I’m not scared of heights but it got me shaken up. Absolutely awesome though I woke up the next morning with a pretty messed up neck. I’m fine now.
What else…one of the requirements for competing plebe summer is getting qualified on a 26 ft sailboat…sailing for three hours about twice a week, it was our relaxation time. There were about 10 sessions of sailing and until we were qualified, we would go out with instructors. Each boat had a crew of 3-4 of us. Well, a few of us qualified after like session 3 so we were allowed to go out on our own and basically do what we want. What did we do? Hoist each other up the mast, sail inches next to another boat and play pirates, untying the main halyard of the other boats making their main sail fall down, etc. It was fun. For all the hype about midshipmen being all perfect people, they are the goofiest people I’ve ever met. I love my shipmates which is good. Here at USNA, the unofficial code and law is absolute classmate loyalty. There are a few exceptions of course. Everyone has each other’s backs though.
Another requirement for plebe summer is line handling and ship damage control (stuff like pipe patching). To practice this, we took the yard patrol boats which are like mini destroyers or cruisers which are used exclusively at USNA for educational purposed—seamanship, navigation, etc. They don’t have any weapons but they are still official naval vessels—I’ll explain in a second what’s cool about that. Anyways, we took the yard patrol boats up to the Baltimore Naval Damage Control Center. On the way up, we got to drive, plot our courses, analyze the radar and satellite for oncoming traffic. Because I have some prior naval experience, I was appointed officer of the deck which basically made me acting captain of the vessel. I was on deck telling everyone what I wanted them to do, where I wanted to go, what speed etc. I also was required to get on the radio and order traffic to remain clear. I said something along the lines of “This is United States Navy Yard Patrol Vessel 61…change your course immediately and maintain your distance.” At the Baltimore Damage Control Center, we put on full firefighting equipment and practiced on the hoses with breathing gear and everything. Then, we went inside this gigantic tank with a part of a ship that had broken pipes, etc. We had to climb up and own ladders fixing the pipes as the rooms flooded. At times, the water would get to our shoulders as we were working. That was a great time.
We had a few swim lessons but that was obviously easy for me. I and a few others got to jump off the 10 meter platform. Drilling. I @ hate drilling. We were issued M-14s with cement inside so they couldn’t be shot. With our heavy M-14s, we learned all the @ marching and drilling. I hate drilling in the hot sun and stuff. We had parades with our damn rifles about once every other week in which we would stand for like an hour and a half in the sun. I almost fainted a few times.
Toward the end of plebe summer, they reward us a little bit. By that time we were completely sick of the yard (we call the USNA campus, “The Yard”). Throughout the whole summer, we were wearing what is called white works, which is basically a sailors uniform. It’s long sleeved and looks stupid. Well, they took us to an Orioles game with about two weeks left of plebe summer and we got to wear our summer whites (the classic officer’s whites which look awesome) with shoulder boards, ribbons, and all to the game. Looks awesome. With like three days to the end of plebe summer, they took us to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. followed by the World War II and Vietnam memorials. Again we got to wear our summer whites. They don’t want us looking stupid out in public. We had all these veterans coming up to us and saluting, thanking us for our commitment and we were responding that we hadn’t done anything and we were thanking them. It was really neat.
Finally, the last day of plebe summer was called PFOREX, dunno what it stood for. Anyways, we went around in our platoon our 40 plebes and did all kinds of stations all day from tug-o-war, to PT station, to swim relays. It was physically intense but a rewarding experience. Now that plebe summer is over, we no longer wear @ white works (the gay sailors uniform). We now wear our summer whites full time. During plebe summer, we had like zero free time. Now, we have quite a bit of free time but still have a lot to do. I’m just happy to have my computer and cell phone.
Sandiegodude! Thats an awesome letter. Gives great insight to those looking into academy life. Good job & thanks for posting it!

BTW, congrats for living through it all. They would have found a place in the Yard to bury me I'm afraid.... :shake:
It would seem that Plebe Summer has changed quite a bit. We didn't have the opportunity to run the Endurance course and such.

We'd wake up around 5:30, go to PEP, come back, do breakfast, and then until lunch it was training evolutions, issues, or the dreaded "Platoon Commander's Time", which basically meant a flame session.

After lunch it was more of the same, with drill coming after dinner. What SDD said about wondering how the time passed when it seemed to crawl so slowly is exceedingly true. While you're there, you think it will never end, but when it does you look back and say, "That was it?"

Having been from NAPS undoubtedly helped me, though. I knew what was coming going in. Some of my classmates weren't so fortunate.

I'll finish with this: As I've said countless times before, you CAN do it. Almost 1,000 people complete the program every year. Why can't you?

The REALLY weird thing is that you will look back and laugh, yes LAUGH, at just how silly it all was, yet you will also appreciate what it taught you. This is true for Plebe Year as well, and the whole Academy experience in general.

Of course, this is coming from someone with almost two decades of separation, so what do I know? :rolleyes:

check out this video on youtube...of the 2nd half of Plebe summer from the current class. Note, most of this is the SECOND half of the program, which is designed to be actually less stressful than the 1st half. Nevertheless, you get a good sense of the intensity, craziness, stress, work and ultimately, the sense of accomplishment.

If you look carefully you'll notice all the sweat stains. That's the only way this video can capture the incredibly HOT and HUMID conditions that these Plebes and their Cadre were training under - so don't forget this is happening in very uncomfortable weather, too.
Some people can handle heat. I'm not one of them.

The three hottest places I have ever been are:

1) The Basic Shipboard Firefighting Course in Norfolk, VA. The temperature in that damned room after we put the fire out must have topped 500 degrees F.

2) Laredo, Texas, in the summer. 115 degrees F.

3) Tecumseh Court, USNA, July 1987. It was worse than Laredo, even if the actual temperature was a good 15-20 degrees cooler. The humidity is awful. It felt as if we were standing on a searing griddle, and I'm not exagerating in the slightest. Our Summer Whites would get soaked through with sweat.

One of the very best things one can do to prepare for Plebe Summer is to go someplace hot and humid and work out. Hard. Having grown up in Noo-YAWK, I was somewhat accustomed to the conditions, but guys from places like Colorado were simply DYING.
peskemom said:
Note, most of this is the SECOND half of the program, which is designed to be actually less stressful than the 1st half.

For my company at least, that could not be further from the truth. First set was filled with a lot of 'grey space.' When the cadre got tired of doing a lot of rack and uniform races, we started doing shoe shining sessions and pro-knowledge discussions. We still had a lot of those honor and leadership sessions, but as far as doing anything exciting, we only ran the O-course once during the first three weeks. By the last week of first set, our cadre would often joke with us, and standing on the bulkhead became a contest of bearing. One cadre patrolled the halls with a super soaker while we were stripping and waxing our decks. I would almost dare to say that the last week was fun, or maybe just entertaining.

Second set was crammed full of everything we hadn't done yet. E-course x2, O course for time, shooting quals, ropes course, etc. On top of that, our new Cadre were ALL from Leatherneck, and they all thought they were the most hardcore SOBs on the field. We knew it was going to suck from the moment the changeover parade ended. Our first set cadre couldn't keep their bearing when they watched someone go into the brace. It was second set's favorite activity. For the last 2 and a half weeks of the summer, EVERY time we were in Bancroft, we had to be in the brace. On top of that, they decided to give us a huge writing assignment over Parent's Weekend. It sucked.

Despite how plebe summer is 'designed', it's all up to how the cadre want to handle things. Personally, I don't agree with second set's methods. At changeover, were were color company, and a motivated bunch of plebes. When the AC year started, our first set platoon commander said we looked like a bunch of 'whipped dogs.'
Opposite for us, first set we always did something. The little gray space we had was for MPT and flaming. First sets job was to break us down which wasn't always fun.

Second set had a lot of gray space which was used for shining shoes, etc. Their primary mission was to build us back up as a team, which was far less stressful.
Definitely different. In fact, it sounds much, MUCH better than in my day. Not easier, mind you, but BETTER.

I'm sorry to hear your story, Dmeix. Not cool. Nothing more hard-core than a USMC-wanna-be Mid, or so misguided, IMO. What happened to SDD makes much more sense.

Oh, well. It's over, and you made it. Well done! :thumb:
Sandiegodude, thanks for posting that letter. You have a knack for descriptive narrative. I hope to get my future Mid (Lord willing :smile: ) to sit down and read it soon.

Any suggestions on what he should take to his CVW?