Bancroft Echoes

The Web Log

By Alumni of the United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland
Opinions expressed below are solely those of their respective authors and do not reflect the opinion of Homeport, the United States Navy, the United States Naval Academy, or the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association.

An online magazine of opinion and observations by United States Naval Academy Alumni

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Worden Sword Returned to USNA 

A hero's treasure comes home at last
Found: Decades after the theft, the FBI returns to the Naval Academy a gilded sword presented to the captain of the Monitor.
Baltimore Sun, January 13, 2004 Read the Article...

FBI to divulge mystery of sword stolen from Naval Academy in 1931
1860s relic to be returned to Annapolis today.
Baltimore Sun, January 12, 2004 Read the Article...

[Via USNA_Tridens]

Monday, November 10, 2003

USNA Professor Accused of Plagiarism Demoted, Stripped of Tenure 

From The Baltimore Sun:
“A Naval Academy history professor accused of plagiarizing portions of his book on the atomic bomb was punished Tuesday with a demotion, a loss of tenure and a hefty pay cut.

The military college said Tuesday that its five-month inquiry into the book by professor Brian VanDeMark concluded that the numerous phrases similar or identical to those of other authors were a result of "gross carelessness," not deliberate theft.”
Read On...

Monday, October 06, 2003

A Laugh for Today 

Q: What do West Point Cadets, Air Force Academy Cadets, and Naval Academy Midshipmen all have in common?

A: They were all accepted at West Point.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hurricane Isabel's Impact on USNA 

MIDN 4/C David Underhill at brings us pictures of the impact of Hurricane Isabel on USNA: You just gotta see these!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Message from the Supe About Hurricane Isabel Flooding 

(Via the Alumni Association)

Dear Alumni, Parents and Friends of the Naval Academy:
We are in the midst of recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Isabel. Thankfully, none of our midshipmen, faculty, staff, visiting Alumni or parents suffered any injuries. However, the damage the Academy sustained from the 7.5 foot storm surge, particularly to our electrical and mechanical infrastructure, was significant. We are still assessing the extent of damage, but believe full recovery will take months.

Bancroft Hall, King Hall, the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility, Dahlgren Hall, Ricketts Hall, MacDonough Hall and the Halsey Field House suffered minor water damage and have been restored to full operations. Mitscher Hall and the majority of our academic buildings all received extensive water damage from flooding. The basement labs in Chauvenet (chemistry) and Rickover (engineering) were among the hardest hit. Hundreds of contractors and Academy personnel undertook a Herculean effort, working around the clock for 72 hours, so that we were ready to resume makeshift classes on Monday 22 Sep, and continue our mission to develop midshipmen into future officers for our Navy and Marine Corps.

We know many challenges await us as we progress to full recovery in the weeks and months ahead. I am confident our Navy leadership will support us with the resources we require. I ask for your support in being sensitive to the significant impact this storm had on the Academy. Midshipmen, faculty, staff and contractors continue to keep our collective focus on our mission and overcoming setbacks caused by the hurricane.

VADM Rodney P. Rempt, Superintendent

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Interesting Reading by USNA Faculty 

For the past year, Victor Davis Hanson was the Shifrin Chair of Military History at the US Naval Academy, and writes a regular column for National Review Online. His column at is definitely worth a read; his column on the Americans riding to Baghdad, "The Long Riders" is a classic. He received a Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and has written 170 articles, book reviews and editorials on classical and military history and contemporary culture. [Search Google for Victor Davis Hanson]

Shannon E. French is a tenure-track assistant professor of philosophy at the US Naval Academy. She has written a book, The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present (forward by John McCain), and an example of her approach to the subject of the Warrior Ethic can be found in a Chronicle of Higher Education article, "When Teaching the Ethics of War Is Not Academic". It's also very interesting to read her assemblage of a Summary of Inputs Concerning Critical Thinking at USNA that came from officers, faculty, and staff of the Division of Professional Development at USNA. This article should be a good discussion point for Alumni concerned about the direction of the Academy.

I certainly can't pretend to speak for all alums but I for one am very glad these are the kind of civilian faculty teaching at my alma mater. I also know there are some alums who think that Mids should just be taught to follow orders, but as future leaders of the Navy, developing critical thinking skills at an early age is critical and I am glad to see there are folks at USNA concerned about developing these skills in Mids.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Noon Meal Grace to Continue in King Hall 

Navy keeps lunch prayer
U.S. court ruling on VMI doesn't sway academy; Church-state separation at issue; Maryland ACLU chapter criticizes decision.

By Ariel Sabar
Sun Staff
Originally published in the Baltimore Sun August 25, 2003

   A chaplain will continue to lead grace before lunch at the Naval Academy, despite a series of federal court rulings striking down a nearly identical practice at the Virginia Military Institute as a violation of church-state separation.
   A Navy spokesman said Friday that Navy lawyers have reviewed the rulings by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and decided that the academy's grace, said at weekday lunches that all 4,000 midshipmen must attend, is legal.
   The decision leaves the Naval Academy as the only U.S. service academy that routinely offers a prayer before meals, and it drew an immediate rebuke from the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The group all but invited midshipmen to sue the school.
[read rest of article...]

Seems to me the ACLU has absolutely no grasp of how things work at the Academy (or in the military at all for that matter). Let's face it, even the most adamant atheist would not jeopardize their naval career (or prospect of one) by suing the Academy. I had a classmate sue a group of senior officers including the 'Dant (and win!); it took congressional action to keep him from being nickle-and-dimed out, and when he got to flight school he could never get off the waiting list from pre-flight in Pensacola to get to a training squadron--I don't know if he ever got his wings. Supposedly he told a classmate of ours he was gong to be a Navy pilot "...if I have to buy a damn Lear jet and paint 'NAVY' on the side". On top of that, anyone who's psyche is so fragile that they would be irreparably damaged by having to listen to a prayer would (should!) never make it past plebe summer.