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Class Of 2018 Plebes Report For Induction Day At The Naval Academy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The first taste of a new chapter. Hundreds of young men and women across the country are in Annapolis for I-Day.

Rick Ritter reports the Naval Academy's class of 2018 will eventually graduate as ensigns in the U.S. Navy or second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps.

It's Induction Day in Annapolis, also known as "I-Day." The Navy's class of 2018 includes candidates from all 50 states who are gearing up for the toughest task of their lives.

There's tradition, history and plenty of tears.

"Everything is tied back, 50-100 years," said Kris Maurer, class of 2018.

"It's not sadness. It's not. It's pride," said his mother Kristi Maurer, as she choked back tears.

This is just a small part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I don't know that I can put into words," she said.

As the sun stretches high, her son Kris Maurer, beams with pride.

"Very honorable," he said.

From Pennsylvania, he's one of the Naval Academy's midshipmen in the class of 2018.

"I know it's cliché, but the world is his oyster at this point. He has everything in front of him," said his father, Andy Maurer.

For mom and dad, handing their son over on I-Day couldn't be harder.

The same goes for every parent. Hugs never felt so short, and nerves were running high.

"Just not knowing is kind of the worst part," said Paige Monk, of Rhode Island.

Once inside, reality sets in.

Candidates go through 20 different stations, starting the transformation into a midshipman.

"Most of them are not ready for it. They think they might be, but I don't think anyone is," said Lt. Brian Gudknecht.

Shoulder length hair for women, buzz cuts for men topped off with their own set of gear and uniform.

"They look shell shocked. They look tired. They don't know what to expect," Lt. Gudknecht said.

The Navy received more than 17,000 applications for the class of 2018. Only 1,200 were accepted, including 300 women. That's 25 percent of the class - the largest number of women ever.

"Women can do anything a man can do," Monk said. "I love when women are making a difference."

The final station consists of the oath of office signing, making their enrollment official before they head off to Bancroft Hall.

The real test of mental and physical toughness is just getting started, and the door for opportunity is wide open.

"Now the past is the past. This is your brand new future," said Kristi Maurer.

Plebes won't see their families again until the first week of August for Plebe Parents weekend.

"I-Day" ends Tuesday night when midshipmen take the oath of office in front of their family and friends.

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