“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr dress blues.
“I don’t think you can say it any better than that,” said Senior Naval Science Instructor, CDR Rick Schock. “We have a unique opportunity to combine academic excellence and character education here in part because of the NJROTC program, and we end up producing fine young men and women prepared for success in our global community in dress blues.”
About 10 years ago the formal uniform had been discontinued due to high cost to families. The Navy funds one NSU uniform per cadet, but in the past Farragut parents were required to buy Salt and Peppers (white shirts with black trousers) and Dress Blues, Whites (an all white uniform), travel gear, as well as any extra uniforms cadets may have needed. Now, the Naval Science department has moved the uniforms into a more multipurpose model, with each uniform requiring the same black pants and shoes, interchanging with the khaki and white shirts. The Dress Blues only need the jacket over them.
No decision has highlighted these fine young people as the recent one to allow officers to, again, wear the Navy Service Dress Blues. It was a decision that couldn’t have come soon enough for this year’s Regimental Commander George Hamilton, Jr. ‘18.
“I used to look through the window of the museum and see Charlie Duke’s dress blues and wish we could wear them,” George said. “For seven years I wanted them to come back. It was really when the Commandant CDR Wallingford ,CDR Schock and 1stSgt Worthy started talking about the idea.”
Although he’s not a graduate of Farragut, CDR Schock has a long family history here. “My uncle was Battalion Commander of North ‘46,” he said. “One thing I’ll never forget is that in his house in New Jersey in a place of prominence he had a picture of himself in front of the battalion in dress blues. When the opportunity came to join Farragut, one of the things that struck me was the lack of Dress Blues. It is the Navy’s formal traditional uniform, and as Farragut is the Navy’s only honor school I felt it was only appropriate that we bring them back.”
CDR Schock started with the students. “I asked the students how they felt about blues, and they very much wanted them back. They appreciated the tradition. 1stSgt Worthy and I felt the same way and we proposed it to the Commandant, and he totally agreed.” CDR Schock reached out to the NJROTC Area 07 Manager who made an additional $15,000 available to the Academy to purchase the uniforms.
Currently, the Regimental Staff wears the uniform once a week, as well as during parades and on special occasions. Consideration is being given to issuing the uniforms to not only Cadet Officers but to Cadet Chief Petty Officers next school year.
“I think that if you want to create a form of respect in the regiment, there’s no better way than to show a visual difference between the officers and the enlisted,” George said.
“When I first wore them, I got a lot of attention for them,” George added. “It’s a lot easier for newer students to find officers if they need to talk to them between classes or something. It presents a level of authority.”
“You can see us walking differently when we wear them,” said Public Affairs Officer Valentina Fornaro Galliano ‘19. “Seeing the old pictures of students standing at the quarterdeck wearing them, you can see that those students respect them. It’s a privilege to wear them.”
The Dress Blues have application beyond being a prep school uniform as well. “In our society, many teenagers don’t own a jacket or tie,” CDR Schock added. “We allow them to wear the blues on special occasions, such as to a congressional, college or job interview. They make a very strong impression. Part of dressing up, especially with teenagers, is that behavior comes along with it. You dress and look like a professional, you’re more likely to act like a professional.”
“They really do make us look more professional,” said Valentina. “For the girls especially, power dress is the best way of describing it. When we wear the uniform, we gain a bit more respect from the rest of the students.”
“I think the people who were the most impressed were the alumni,” said George. “When we first wore them for homecoming, they were asking when we’ll bring back dress whites and dress this and dress that, you know, they wanted more, because people like it when we’re dressed up.”
“The tradition of the school is very important to me,” said Valentina. “Traditions are one of the things that we’re really focusing on both bringing back and creating this year.”
“I’m very pleased the way the leaders have embraced this,” CDR Schock concluded, “and that something as small as a uniform can have such a powerful impact on the students’ behavior and thinking. I’m very glad we have it and I look forward to its continued wear.”