For the first time in their four years at the United States Naval Academy, a select group of senior Midshipmen got to have sole control of their future. On January 31, the senior Midshipmen (better known as Firsties or First Class Midshipmen), who will be Surface Warfare Officers upon graduation, selected the ship on which they will serve their first tour.
The event is held in Alumni Hall (the basketball arena) and there is a massive white board with magnetic placards representing the numerous types of ships and locations from which the Firsties may pick. From a Destroyer in Rota, Spain, to a Carrier in Yokosuka, Japan, the options are endless.
But, there is one catch. Selection is based solely on Order of Merit. The number one ranked future Surface Warfare Officer in the class gets to pick his/her ship first. Some ships have multiple positions available. However, once their are no longer any spots left, you have to pick another ship. So, you could be waiting in line only two or three people away from making your selection in front of everyone and the last spot on your favorite ship or your favorite location is suddenly gone and you are left scrambling to decide (hopefully you did your homework and have some good backup plans) where you will spend your next several years right then and there.
And, all of this is done within an hour or so. It is an incredibly fast paced, lively event. Frankly, it’s more eventful than the third round of the NFL Draft. And it’s basically a reverse NFL Draft at that. Instead of organizations scrutinizing over you, you get to pick your team. You get to do your due diligence on the location, the type of ship, and the deployment schedule. You get to talk to other officers on board and try and learn about the culture of the wardroom and perhaps pick a ship where you already have friends serving.
And the Midshipmen even get walkup music and a slideshow as they walk up to make their selections. It is quite the ordeal for these future Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) and after that, well, it’s the last time you ever have full control over your military career path.
Thousands of Midshipmen, friends, family, and former graduates pack Alumni Hall to watch their friends select the first ship they will serve on in their naval career, and twelve of those future warriors who selected their ship last week were members of Navy’s football team. They chose a total of eight different ships, spanning from Japan to Virginia, from destroyers to carriers. As you can see, several of them chose to serve with their friends from the football team, to continue the bonds they forged on the gridiron as newly minted Ensigns and Division Officers in the Navy. Below are their selections:
Garret Lewis (QB) - DDG 77 O’Kane, San Diego, Ca
Khaylan Williams (CB) - CG 62 Chancellorsville, Yokosuka, Japan
Elijah Jones (CB) - CG 62 Chancellorsville, Yokosuka, Japan
Bryan Hammond (B-Back) - LHD 6 Bonhomme Richard, San Diego, Ca
Mike Martin (B-Back) - DDG 58 Laboon, Norfolk, Va
Akili Taylor (B-Back) SWO Information Professional Option - CVN 76 Ronald Reagan, Yokosuka, Japan
Jake Hawk (OL) - DDG 72 Mahan, Norfolk, Va
Chris Gesell (OL) - DDG 55 Stout, Norfolk, Va
Adam Amosa-Tagovailoa (OL) - DDG 72 Mahan, Norfolk, Va
Taylor Jackson (WR) - DDG 58 Laboon, Norfolk, Va
Josh Webb (DL) - LPD 27 Portland, San Diego, Ca
Nate Hawkins (LS/Student Assistant) - DDG 55 Stout, Norfolk, Va
Please keep these young men in your thoughts as they get set to graduate and begin their journeys across the globe. Many of them will be forward deployed across every square inch of the world’s oceans within months upon reporting to their ship. Some may even be meeting their ship out already on deployment from day one.
And because of that, gentlemen, we thank you for your service.