Speak Out!

June 04, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- Frank Shannon was expelled from the Naval Academy after failing the school's distance run by 20 seconds.

At other service academies, he would have passed because their required times are slower.

Shannon received numerous chances to pass but was eventually expelled. Now, after investing seven years in the Navy and the Academy, he has no degree and no Navy commission, and he owes the U.S. government more than $127,000 for his education.

Should Shannon have been expelled for failing the running test? Should he have gotten a commission or a degree, and should he have to repay the government the full cost of his education?

High standards critical for Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy has high standards - higher than most schools. Meeting and exceeding those high standards for four years builds character, character necessary to lead sailors and Marines in combat situations. If standards are ignored, they are no standards at all.

USNA is not a liberal, PC, Ivy League institution. It is a special school dedicated to preparing warriors for the defense of this country.

In my opinion, Frank Shannon should not graduate and he should not receive a diploma or credit for his academic work, but he should not be required to repay the $127,000.

Raymond H. Clary Jr. U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1965 Vicksburg, Miss.

Other factors may be involved

There must be other factors involved in the case of Frank Shannon, of which the public has not been made aware. It is difficult to believe that Vice Adm. Rempt, the Naval Academy superintendent, would be so capricious to expel him for failing the run by 20 seconds.

I think that, at the worst, Shannon should have been denied a commission, but he should have been given a diploma with no obligation to pay the government for his education. This has been done many times over the years for midshipmen who pass academically but who are ineligible for a commission based on a physical disqualification.

Richard B. Luthin, M.D. USNA, Class of 1953 Jacksonville, Fla.

He should be able to graduate, serve

It's interesting that Mr. Shannon was given several opportunities to run the correct time when the Academy wanted him for football. Your article only mentioned one opportunity for him to run in January. I would think that academics and character would speak more highly than physical attributes. You mentioned that the Naval Academy standards are higher than other service branches. What a shame that he was cast out for a mere 20 seconds - after one try! How much running will be involved in his area of interest of his studies or in his future job with the Navy? You also mentioned that these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Senator Mikulski and the "powers in charge" should back his receiving his degree and allow him to defend our country, especially now that recruitment figures are down.

Emily Marshall Gambrills

Football training proves fitness

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to enforce this requirement on Shannon who is apparently in excellent physical condition due to his football training. For a Navy officer it seems downright foolish under the circumstances. Perhaps for a Marine officer it would make more sense, but the Marines have their own standards that Shannon would be expected to pass annually.

There has to be another reason to bilge this young midshipman. Moreover, it is certain to have an effect on football player recruiting, particularly linebacker material.

Retired Col. Winchell M. Craig Jr. U.S. Marine Corps Bend, Ore.

Graduation must be earned

Graduation from the Naval Academy is an honor and a privilege that is earned.

It is the Academy's responsibility to educate and to evaluate leadership skills.

Shannon failed a basic test of stamina and will and should not have been commissioned. His indebtedness is typical of attendance at an Ivy League college.

He needs to transfer his credits, get his degree and get on with his life.

Maryellen O. Brady Edgewater

Hard to determine appropriate outcome

If Mr. Shannon did all of the training and physical fitness exercises needed to pass the distance run but still failed, then he should be cut some slack up to and including a commission. Possibly the commission could be in a career path other than line officer.

If he made no overt effort other than showing up on time for the run, the Navy made the right decision, but one wonders how he was allowed to get as far as he did.

A. M. "Mick" Thistle Annapolis

It's not public's place to judge Academy

As a mother of two academy graduates, I do not feel it is up to the general public to decide whether the Academy's rules are right or wrong. The Academy has its rules, and Mr. Shannon failed to pass one of the requirements for graduation.

Jeanne K. Campbell Annapolis

20 seconds shouldn't cost Mid $127,000

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