In Annapolis, mad scramble and an `Oops!'

May 21, 2004

Several hundred sweating Midshipmen claw their way upward yesterday during the annual Plebe Week ritual of climbing the Herndon Monument at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Hoisted by classmates, Philip "Flip" Johnson (right) of Rock Hill, S.C., finally places an upperclassman's cap on the summit of the 21-foot obelisk coated with lard, a rite of passage marking the end of freshman year.

But their celebration was brief. Excited plebes forgot to complete the first step of the challenge: Remove the plebe cap that had been secured on the monument's tip by upperclassmen.

Johnson was again hoisted to the top. In all, the climb took two hours, 19 minutes and 24 seconds. According to legend, Johnson's achievement will make him the first in his class to attain the rank of admiral. (Article, Page 2b)

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