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Oklahoman Completes Herndon Monument Climb

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — In the four years they spend at the Naval Academy, midshipmen not only get a great education but they are immersed in centuries of ritual and tradition.

As Mike Schuh reports, one of the more spectacularly sweaty rites of passage happened Tuesday.

The academy monument is topped with a sailor’s hat and coated in lard. A thousand midshipmen ending their first year in Annapolis have one goal: that hat.

Joe Asunchion from Frederick saw his daughter, Alex.

“They’re watering them down so they’re more slippery,” Asunchion said.

The task can be completed in as little as two minutes or as long as four hours. Everyone seems to know how it should be done.

“They need a few more tiers. They’re doing a good job but they need to learn to work together,” said Stephanie Fox.

Two hours and 10 minutes went by before Andrew Craig of Tulsa, Okla. had the height to replace a first-year student’s “Dixie cup” hat with a midshipman’s cover.

Academy lore has it that the midshipman who knocks off the plebe cap will be the first in their class to make the rank of admiral.

The event is made extra challenging by greasing the 21-foot obelisk with about 50 pounds of lard.

Students began the yearly event in 1940. They added the symbolic placement of the cap on its tip seven years later. In 1949, upperclassmen began smearing the lard on the monument.

More from Mike Schuh
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