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The Class of 2016 took 1 hour, 32 minutes and 43 seconds to remove a “Dixie cup” cover from the top of the Herndon Monument, marking the end of their plebe year at the Naval Academy.
During the annual Herndon Monument climb, almost 1,000 plebes band together to climb a 21-foot tall obelisk on the academy’s campus near the front of the Naval Academy Chapel. The monument is greased with almost 50 pounds of vegetable shortening by the upperclassmen, an academy release said. The plebes form a human pyramid and the person on top snatches the plebe cover from the tip of the monument, replacing it with a midshipman cover.
This year, Midshipman 4th Class Pat Lien of Orlando, Fla., who reached the cover first, only had to place the midshipman’s cover on top of the monument; the “Dixie cup” cover had been knocked off by someone throwing a balled up sock earlier in the climb. While the event takes teamwork from the entire class, tradition states that the plebe to reach the top first will be the first of his class to become an admiral, the academy’s website says.
Last year, the Class of 2015 scaled the obelisk in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 13 seconds. The fastest time ever recorded was 90 seconds in 1969, when the monument was not greased. The monument also wasn’t greased in 2010, when the Class of 2013 scaled the monument in 2 minutes, 2 seconds.