U. S. Naval Academy Class of 1978 – Class History and Commitment to 2028

Welcome Aboard, USNA Class of 2028! Over the next four years and beyond, the great Class of 1978, as your “Another Link in the Chain,” commits to sponsoring and mentoring you as a class and as individuals. We also commit to providing you the wisdom of our experiences, perspectives and our life examples of honor, courage, commitment, integrity, resiliency and service.

On a hot and humid July 8th, 1974, 1,513 gathered in T-Court as the largest class inducted in Academy history. When we raised our hands to swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, we also silently pledged to our classmates “to be a good shipmate, to have each other’s back and to do our best to pull each other through all four years and throughout the rest of our lives.” As your link in the chain, we make that same commitment to you.

Our Naval Academy Prep School (NAPS) classmates were the last class to train at Bainbridge, MD. Our First Class year marked the end of Saturday morning classes, first semester exams after Christmas leave, and “June Week,” as the academic year changed the next year. We were the last class to be issued slide rules and the first authorized to use calculators. While many of our experiences are different from what you will have, our classes will share the same emotional experiences of common events. Among them are the anxiety and fatigue of I-day, the stress of Plebe Summer, the grind of academics, the strain and exhilaration of reaching the top of Herndon, the thrill of the new Youngster stripe coupled with the anticipation of “being in the fleet” during summer cruises, the pride of receiving our class ring, making it to First Class year and then the elation of tossing our covers into the air as newly commissioned Ensigns and Second Lieutenants.

On June 7th, 1978, we graduated 954 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Thirty-two more followed over the next six months as “late graduates” (aka “78½”). We commissioned 979 (787 Unrestricted Line and 30 Restricted Line Ensigns; 156 Marine, one Army and five Air Force Second Lieutenants). We lost 527 classmates, the highest number of Midshipmen attrited in a class in Naval Academy history. Through those years we learned that no one makes it through the Academy or life alone. We who survived relied on professors’ extra instruction, smart upperclassmen and classmates, “gouge files” containing past sample exams, papers and notes and late-night study to get through academics. Early morning workouts with classmates helped us pass physical tests. In the end, we found out, like you will, that it will be your classmates tutoring and urging you to “not give up” that will get you through all the “rough spots.”

We also learned that once our tossed-covers hit the grass on graduation day, everything “zeroized;” and everyone has the same opportunity to make flag rank, become a CEO, and be highly successful. The lessons we learned — and you will learn — at the Academy prepare you for success and mold you as leaders. The adversities you face and overcome, and the friendships you form, will also unite you as a family and make an indelible imprint on you. Embrace those experiences and always cherish your classmates. Your classmates were beside you on your first day and they will be there for you throughout your life.

We graduated six Olmstead Scholars, ten Burke scholars, two Guggenheim Fellows and five civilian university scholars/fellows. Our class produced 31 Flag Officers and four Senior Executives Service (SES) flag-equivalents. We are one of only five classes in Naval Academy history to have four— or more — 4-star Admirals simultaneously on active duty. We hold the record for the most “Old Goats” [longest-serving graduate on active duty] with four recipients and had an “Old Salt” [longest serving Surface Warfare Officer]. We produced an astronaut, a Chaplain of the Marine Corps and a U.S. Ambassador. At one time, half of the Navy’s Air Wings and Fleets were commanded by our classmates. We commanded three Combatant Commands (Pacific Command, Strategic Command and Southern Command) as well as U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. Classmates were a Vice Chief of Naval Operations, a Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, an Oceanographer of the Navy, and a Program Executive Officer for the F-35. Classmates commanded the Marine Corps Joint Forces Command, Third Marine Expeditionary Forces and Second Marine Corps Air Wing. Our SES classmates included a DoD Inspector General, a General Counsel to the Department of the Navy and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. We produced a Superintendent and a Commandant of the Naval Academy, two Commandants of the Merchant Marine Academy, an Assistant Athletic Director of the Merchant Marine Academy, a Director of the Stockdale Center, and a Naval Academy Dean of Admissions.

Our classmates are highly successful executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, artists and noted authors. Two were technical advisors to and appeared in major motion pictures – Top Gun and The Hunt for Red October. Classmates serve their communities as teachers, principals, commissioners, city council members, Congressional staffers, mayors and candidates for public office. Our grads served as Alumni Association Chapter Presidents, university Foundation Trustees and corporate Directors, including a Chairman of the Board of the Alumni Association Trustees and a CEO of the Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation. To date, two are USNA Distinguished Graduates.

The Class of ’78 is eager and excited to see what your link brings to our heritage and what legacy you will add. We cannot wait to meet you and support you throughout your four years at the Academy and beyond.

Go Navy, Beat Army!