To Stay "Under the Radar" or not and what that means or doesn't mean...

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by jasperdog, May 21, 2011.

  1. jasperdog

    jasperdog 5-Year Member

    Jul 25, 2009
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    So in other threads here on the USMMA Service Academy Forum there's a lot of discussion about "staying under the radar" and allusions to repercussions if you do not do so. I know in the past I myself have suggested to potential incoming Plebes they are likely best served not getting ahead of themselves and "flying/staying under the radar." However, as I never, ever meant that anybody should worry about speaking up when they really should do so or "crying foul" when they believe they been or are being "wronged" I now find myself to i) clarify my statements, opinions and recommendations on the topic and ii) suggest the time has likely come for a discussion and discourse on the subject that the incoming Class of 2015 might consider and find useful.

    First what do I mean when I say "fly under the radar" and when specifically am I recommending to incoming Plebe Candidates they do so.

    First the when - from when you report for indoctrination until you have a solid idea of what your own personal challenges getting through USMMA will be. The end of that time will vary by individual PC/Plebe but will generally vary from between the end of First Trimester your plebe year to the end of the Second Tri. Basically until the point - "you know the real deal as it pertains to you."

    What do I mean by "fly under the radar" - basically try to blend in rather than stand out and be seen primarily as part of the team and part of those incoming PCs/Plebes working to first fit in before they stand out. For some of this it isn't always possible, take for example myself, I deal with stress and change through humor always have, always will. So laughing at various evolutions during my Indoc didn't exactly endear me to the "pushers" (e.g. DI's were called "pushers" back in our day) especially the third classmen in the Indoc detail, so yeah i ran a little more and did a "few" more pushups, etc. than "some" of my section-mates.

    In fact both I and a classmate with a similar disposition both did a lot more running, etc. than many of our section-mates. Since both of us were athletes it wasn't the end of the world and we both graduated four years later though. Point being, yeah we made our life that summer and fall of 1978 harder than it needed to be but the repercussions were not all that dire at the end of the day. I say this because many seem to be talking as if the consequences of not flying under the radar are in and of themselves dire. They are not. The consequence is that you get more attention, and when you get more attention, frankly you get away with less. Getting away with less means you pay for many or most of your mistakes or rules infractions. The rules infractions themselves are what dictate the consequences not the mere fact that you called attention to yourself. Additionally when you find yourself "stuck" (having received demerits) and on restriction there are in and of themselves more opportunities to get stuck (e.g. inspection at restriction muster, etc.)

    You also now have a whole additional set of things to deal with that those who are flying under the radar don't deal with. That means more stress, more things to manage into your schedule, etc.

    All of the above is probably pretty clear, but I want to say this to be clear: "flying under the radar" does NOT mean putting up with on-going things that by any definition of the word would be hazing; also pardon the candor my definition doesn't include not saying crap if someone is shoving it down your throat by the mouthful.

    I've been associated with the USMMA first as a student and then as an active alumnus for 32+ years. I'm not one who is know as anything close to a "wall-flower." I have and continue to find the community of stakeholders at the USMMA - students, administration, alumni, and families to be open, outspoken and very candid in expression of their opinions and assessment of current situations. I've always felt it to be one of the strengths of the group and hope it will always be so. I've never seen any, ANY, propensity of this community to "shoot the messenger" or similar. Further while I have found the majority of us to have and state pretty strong opinions and sometimes "putting it out there" does require a clear and determined will to do so; I've also found in the end the person who is "right" is acknowledged and thanked for making things better.

    Your thoughts?
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  2. noworries

    noworries Banned

    Jul 11, 2009
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    sounds a lot like some advice given in chapter four from an ancient book written by a chinese general
  3. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ... 5-Year Member

    Oct 21, 2009
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    First ... I can't believe this didn't get more responses.

    Second ... For me staying "under the radar", or LowPro (Low Profile) as we called it, is all about prioritizing. Why are you even there at school? You can be very involved with regiment and pat yourself on the back all night because someone important knows your name. At the end of the quarter it doesn't help you pass your classes, There is no grade for "regimental participation" and the Coast Guard doesn't take extracurricular activities into consideration when grading your license exams. Sure, extracurricular activities have a valuable role and I certainly participated in more than one, but by the time I got to 1/C year I was perfectly happy to be a zombo.

    That being said, there is a difference between not doing anything and going LoPro. i thought it was pretty cool as a plebe the first time a M/N Officer addressed me by my first name. As the year went by I realized how uncool it really was to be known. Especially once the Commandant and Asst. Commandant knew me by name. I can specifically recall as a newly minted 3/C chewing the fat with my newly minted Battalion Commander. He was utterly shocked to find out that I had not spent a day yet on restriction. He stated to me (only half joking) that he was going to make sure I did my time that year ... Ooops, I should have kept my mouth shut!

    My advice to all incoming P/Cs ... grades are your absolute 1st priority during plebe year. There are a lot of cool and rewarding things to participate in at KP. Don't get involved beyond a varsity sport until 3/C year. Primarily because you will need a good cum GPA to fall back on at some point. Secondly because until you get a taste of life as an upperclassmen you probably don't really understand what you are getting into anyway. Remember ... you are a plebe until you see one.

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