Monday, April 30, 2012

You can call me Midshipman Sawatzki now.

I guess it's been long enough since I last posted that Blogger changed the format on their page. So as I get used to the new format, I'd like to mention that the USMMA Class of 2015 has been Recognized. What does that mean? It means that we're not plebes anymore--sort of. We still do the necessary plebe jobs, like cleaning stations and table-serving. But there are so many things that plebes do that are demmed "not essential to the functioning of the Regiment". Things like squaring corners, walking 6 inches from the wall or curb while outside or in the barracks. Carry bags by handle, rather than using shoulder straps. "Legally" being able to be friends with upperclassmen; and no more saluting firstclassmen (at least until Commissioning in June). Collar insignia is worn. We now have perpetual "rack in"-- being able to keep our doors closed most of the day. But we are apparently the Class to get Recognized the latest in the year, at least since the Class of 1958. By the end of plebedom, the "plebe attitude" was already wearing off. That comes with the third trimester and coming back from Spring Break, and is a sign to the Firstclassmen that the plebes need to be Recognized soon, before they start acting like they own the place. So Recognition was a satisfying ending to what has been a prolonged plebe life. We passed our last plebe knowledge test on Wednesday evening, 4/18. On Friday morning, the Battallion Commander let us continue on talking in the hallway before falling in for formation. Then--he reminded us that we were still plebes, and we did some PT for it. That evening, we had a flag hunt and rifle PT. We were then informed that we had passed our last Recognition step. We had finished plebedom! Afterwards, we were encouraged to watch movies and stay up as late as we wanted to. At 10pm, the Seniors gave us a "fake recognition"-- muster in the auditorium in Recognition gear. We got to the auditorium to find it empty. I made a point to get to bed ASAP, since I knew what was going to happen the next day. On Saturday, 4/21, we were called out on line ar 4:30am. Boiler suits, PT gear and running shoes. This was the day-- Recognition at last. We did a lot of pushups and situps on the "grassy knoll", as well as some teamwork excersizes: tandem push-ups and a tunnel crawl. Then the Seniors called us in to the auditorium to remind us to play safe. On the agenda was pulling the biggest pickup truck up the hill. It would have been easy if the driver wouldn't have tapped the brakes every so often. "Almost hazing", one of my companymates uttered. But for one day, it was okay. What would it mean to join a frat without some mild pranks? Then there was a mud pit, log PT,"running of the plebes" and finally,we got to ring the Memorial bell as a symbol of Recognition. A speech by the Regimental Commander, who reminded us of all the pains us as a class had caused him: "I gave you liberty against the advice of your training officers". We were Recognized now, but we were cold and muddy. Once we had stripped off the mud-encrusted boiler suits and disposed of the mud-ruined shoes and socks, we washed off with a nice, cold shower and proceeded to breakfast in running suits, rather than khakis, again, a Recognition privilege.