Enemy Territory

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 102014

A hundred years ago when I was a young soldier I spent some time at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, teaching cadets which end of a rifle to point at the target and how to make it go bang. So yesterday when we drove to Annapolis, Maryland to visit the Naval Academy it was sort of like venturing into enemy territory.

Established as the Naval School in 1845 with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors, the name was changed to the United States Naval Academy in 1850. As the U.S. Navy grew over the years, the Academy grew with it, from its original 10 acre campus to over 300, and the student body now numbers over 4,000 midshipmen. During their four years at the Academy, young men and women receive a superb college education as well as learning how to be officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. When they graduate they leave the Academy for assignments all over the world, taking with them not only a diploma but also a sense of responsibility and ethics that is ingrained in them from their very first day at Annapolis.

Annapolis Sign

We parked right outside the gate and after passing through a security checkpoint, stopped at the Visitor Center for a brief orientation film. Then we walked down Officer’s Row, past the stately homes of the Academy’s senior officers to the Academy Chapel.

Officers Row

The historic Chapel with its landmark dome is beautiful both inside and out.

Chapel Dome outside

Chapel inside

Here is a neat shot Terry took of the dome from the inside.

Chapel Dome inside

Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, whose words, “I have not yet begun to fight,” have inspired generations of military men, is laid to rest in a crypt located beneath the Academy Chapel. Displays in the crypt include his commissioning papers from the United States Congress, awards and decorations, and personal items.

John Paul Jones coffin

From the Chapel we walked almost across the street to Preble Hall, the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. It would take at least a long day to see everything in the museum, if not more. Displays include weapons, uniforms, and Naval artifacts throughout our country’s history.

Museum display


This is John Paul Jones’ battle sword.

John Paul Jones sword

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry carried this .54 caliber flintlock pistol at the Battle of Thames, in which famed Indian leader Tecumseh was killed.

Oliver Perry pistol

The top floor of the museum holds the amazing Henry Rogers model ship collection; over 100 highly detailed models of sailing ships and boats dating from 1650 to 1850. Many of the scale models were built for British Admiralty. The gallery depicts model makers of 150 years ago carefully creating their masterpieces.

Model maker

This makes three of the five service academies we have visited, the others being West Point and the Air Force Academy in Colorado, and I have to say that I still think that West Point, with its many monuments and gothic granite buildings overlooking the Hudson River, is the most impressive. But then again, I may be just a wee bit prejudiced. Smile

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to start a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


My friend Mona Ingram has just released No Such Thing, book two in her popular Gold Rush Romance series. The historical romance tells the story of a beautiful Chinese girl overcoming impossible odds to survive the chaotic Gold Rush days in San Francisco.

Chris Ward’s new book Finding My World is a great young adult romance/mystery set in Japan that is going to be a sure hit. Check it out!

Thought For The Day – Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.

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Nick Russell

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  5 Responses to “Enemy Territory”

  1. Back in the early 70’s in college I ran cross country twice at West Point. It was fantastic. I never have gotten to do a “tour” of the Campus, but eating in the mess hall was very amazing. Doing an official tour is on the Bucket List. Last year we got to tour the Air Force Academy. It was amazing. I’m not sure ranking the 5 Academy’s is a good use of brain cells. They all have their qualities, assets and idiosyncracies. My vote is to just do all 5 and to considerate it a major life accomplishment. We have driven by Annapolis twice but never got to stop and visit. It is on the List too.

  2. Our sons best friend since childhood is a Naval Academy grad. We attended his graduation and it was an amazing event. A sea of white on the football field and when those covers (hats to the uninitiated) hit the air at the end it looked like a huge flock of large white graceful birds taking flight!! One nice honor was that parents who were Military veterans sat on the field in a special area on the field rubbing elbows with other dignitaries.

  3. Thanks for the tour. Great pictures.


  4. A few years ago we had a tour of the Academy at Anapolis. We were enjoying the guided tour by a Marine officer. While we were in the pool area where cadets are trained to abandon ship and compete in swim meets. Suddenly the building shook so bad my wife was on the floor. The ceiling tiles were falling in the pool while the water was sloshing out of the pool. The trophies that are in this same building like the 2 Hiesman trophies were on the floor along with all the broken glass from the trophy caes. It was a earthquake! We ran out the building to join all cadets and everyone at the Academy that day. What a visit! We then headed for Virginia Beach. Needless to say when we were going through the 2 tunnels under the Chesapeake I was watching for leaks. I did call before we went that way. What a vacation. How could it be topped for excitment. Well when we were at VB a hurricane chased us out of town. There nothing like bumber to bumber 15 mph at the fastest all the way to Richmond. The vacation for nervous people? Not likely much LOL

  5. Walking the hallowed halls with you in this post makes me want to BE a part of something. It inspires loyalty, and camaraderie, and patriotism, and love of country, and soldiers. Well said, as always, Nick 🙂

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