Ennis 2020 grad making waves at Naval Academy

Fourth Class Midshipman Dane Vernor, a graduate of the Ennis High School Class of 2020, is living out his dream at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Nine months away from home at The Academy, and he beams, “I really like it here. Plebe year (definition: a newly entered cadet or freshman, especially at a military academy) is supposed to be the hardest experience you will have. The U.S. Naval system is trying to weed you out, to make sure the ones that remain really want to be there.”

Vernor continues, “There are a lot of things that I didn’t anticipate to happen – such as all the little things you do as a plebe – memorizing rates (which are details about USNA, the United States Naval Academy), chopping up and down the hallways (we must hustle everywhere we go and must take 90 degree angles to turn), etc. That’s all for preparation for becoming an officer in the future. Basically, this means dealing with adversity, to be rewarded in the end.”

As Vernor’s exams concluded and after his last semester was completed for his first year, he has now been moved-up in rank to “Third Class” Midshipman. He recently became a part of what is called “Sea Trials,” which is a capstone event for plebes.

Dane Vernor in front of a helicopter.

Rigorous training programs

Vernor explains, “These Sea Trials are very rigorous, and I would say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished. We compete as companies and engage in about 15 different obstacle-type courses. Mixed into that are other types of fitness challenges like hand-to-hand combat wrestling.

“For instance, I was chosen to do the bench press challenge for my company. I placed third with 35 reps at 155 pounds out of 30 companies. (The winner was an actual power lifter, but I beat him head-to-head on wrestling, as I forced his head into the ground and made him tap-out). During the course of the Sea Trials, it’s estimated that we run over the length of a marathon, and that is performed wearing combat boots. It was amazingly tough, but I felt an extreme sense of accomplishment when I completed the tasks.”

Dane Vernor, center, working hard in his training.

This summer, Vernor is in the midst of a program called “Protramid.” This training covers a sampling of all the different communities that the Navy has to offer.

The first week, he was learning all about submarines – how they integrate into the Navy and all the functions they perform. He was able to ride on a couple of them and see the insides.

Dane Vernor, at left, helps a friend suit up to get ready for more training exercises.

Vernor remarks, “The subs are truly amazing vessels. The next week I was part of the aviation crews. We flew with pilots on several different aircraft to test those – helicopters, prop planes, and jets of all sizes. This week I’m to be working with the Marine Corps. We’ll learn about all their different duties and activities. From there, we’ll go rucking (“rucking” is the military term for hiking under load) and several other events with them. It will be interesting because they’re kind of secretive about their community. My last week will be with surface ships. We’ll tour with destroyers, cruisers, and carriers.”

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