ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s Plebe Induction Day at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, however, the two-day event looks much different from its last one held during the middle of the pandemic.

Officials said they’re excited to be back and operating at a normal pace.

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“Definitely excited but also a little nervous,” said Thomas Pitchford, Plebe, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2025.

“I’m ready to start this journey,” said Martin Lopez, Plebe, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 2025.

Nearly 1,200 men and women in the U.S. Naval Academy’s Plebe Class of 2025 entered a once-in-a-lifetime experience to begin their six-week transformation into midshipmen.

“I’ve always felt a calling to do something for the greater good and the community,” said Lopez.

This time around, many covid restrictions are lifted and they’re not holding back.

“We’re executing seven weeks of training and were doing all those close contact type activities we couldn’t do last year. Those things that build comradery and teamwork,” said Lt. Col Todd McCarthy, USMC Officer in charge of Plebe summer.
‘We’re trying to turn up discipline a little bit, trying to turn up the intensity a little bit.”

Families were also able to send off their plebes on campus.

“Just so incredibly proud. So excited for him,” said Lauen Hixon, parent. “I know this is where my child is supposed to be, but I’m going to miss him.”

“Wow, so proud for her,” said Jason Rosenberg, parent.

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The much anticipated buzz-cut traditions for men had seats at the barbershop filled up again — an exciting day for many.

“It’s a big step in people’s lives,” said Second Lt. Ezrah Itkowsky.

“We’re going to make sure they have what it takes to join the brigade,” said McCarthy.

However, some are going in with heavy hearts, after learning just about 24 hours before the big day, one of their own midshipman’s mother was shot and killed by a stray bullet outside of the Graduate Hotel.

“When I heard the news yesterday, it just about literally took me to my knees,” said Lauren Hixon.

“Of course our prayer and condolences go out to the family. Unthinkable tragedy,” said McCarthy.

Throughout the tragedies and hardships, officials said the Naval Academy family is resilient and will always take care of one another during this journey.

The Induction day will wrap up tonight at 7:00 p.m. with the Oath of Office Ceremony.

This year, families of incoming plebes are invited to attend. The event will also be live-streamed.

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