BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After spending a rigorous summer away at the U.S. Naval Academy, the first-year students are rewarded with a special reunion.

Tracey Leong has the story.

It’s a day six weeks in the making. For most of the plebes, it is their first time away from home, so that reunion with their family and friends is quite an emotional one.

The midshipmen waited an entire summer for this moment.

“I’m happy to be back with my family,” said Midshipman Lauren Larar.

This, after completing a mentally and physically exhausting training program.

“We did not think she would last, and to our pleasant surprise, she is still with us today and she looks skinny,” said one family member.

It’s a difficult sacrifice, spending time apart with limited contact.

“I’m so happy. I’ve been crying, you know. It’s my baby and I love her and I’m so proud,” said parent Thai Bach.

The day also represents accomplishment with only an eight percent acceptance rate. These midshipmen are an elite group who have come from all over the country as well as the world.

The class of 2018 has 1,191 students–880 are men and 302 are women.

“It feels great. I can’t put into words how to describe it, but I’m very happy,” said plebe Princeton Luong.

Now it’s time for them to celebrate the tremendous accomplishment.

“I want Italian food so bad,” said student Makeba Ndifang.

“I really missed ice cream over the past six weeks, so it will be nice to get that back and I’ll talk to my family a little bit,” said plebe Lauren Larar.

This is the first time in six weeks they are allowed to leave the yard, so you can imagine they are definitely going to be taking advantage of that liberty. The only catch–they have to be back on base by 10 p.m.

This class of 2018 includes 70 men and women with parents who are alumni.

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