Contact Us

Squads Matter – King Hall Meals and Remembering Heroes

events and traditions May 06, 2017

During Plebe Summer, meals in King Hall are one of the least enjoyable experiences you can imagine.  Sitting at the table, starving, on the front three inches of your chair and having to square your meals and look forward (keeping your eyes in the boat), all while being rated (i.e. tested on required knowledge) is never how anyone would want to spend their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  

While meals in the academic year still aren’t great as a plebe, they definitely improve. During the academic year, the plebes will still be required to sit on the front three inches of their seats, however they no longer have to square their meals nor do they have to keep their eyes in the boat.  Additionally, each day generally brings up new topic for discussion at the discretion and initiative of the squad leader.

Now I know in many of my articles I say that “it depends on the Company,” but in this case each midshipman’s experience at lunch is very dependent on the squad leader.  While I can’t speak for other squads, I want to let you know about the weekly routine that I led during my time as a squad leader last year to give you a sense of things that generally get discussed at King Hall tables.


For my squad, Monday was “motivational Monday.”  Therefore, on Monday the plebes would have to bring some form of quote, passage, or example of something that would motivate us to have a great week.  Many times, the plebes would bring in a quote that keeps them going in tough situations, other times the plebes would talk about US military action that occurred over the weekend that was sure to make everyone proud to be a midshipman.  And of course, as the squad leader, I would also come prepared for motivational Monday.  The first and last week of the semester I shared the one phrase that I live my life by: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”  Life is simple… if you want to be on top of the mountain, you have to WORK.  There is no substitute.

However it didn’t end there.  I personally tried my best to mix professional discussion with some more lighthearted discussion in order to try and see the true personalities of everyone in my squad.  And because of that, Monday was also Man Crush Monday.  Therefore, we went around the squad and had everyone share a man they admired, whether a celebrity or someone in their life.  And to justify this, they had to provide reasoning as to why they admired this individual… He’s just really attractive was not an acceptable answer.


Tuesday was my favorite day.  In homage to our roots as the 26th Company Rough Riders, Tuesday’s turned into “Teddy Tuesdays,” in which each plebe had to bring in a fact, story about, or political stance of Theodore Roosevelt.  By the end of the Semester, it was safe to say the squad was speaking softly but carrying the big stick.


With such a crazy and rapidly changing world that we are currently living in, Wednesday was none other than “World Update Wednesday.”  As a rule of thumb, with 3 plebes in the squad, we would attempt to separate different geographical regions between the plebes.  Every Wednesday we would have one update from 7th Fleet (the Pacific… i.e. China and North Korea), one from 6th Fleet (Russia), and one from 5th Fleet (The Middle East).  We tried to make Wednesdays as informative as possible by keeping up with volatile situations across the world.  

But if there’s a Man Crush Monday, there has to be a Woman Crush Wednesday, right? And you are absolutely correct.  Wednesday was most definitely “Woman Crush Wednesday,” where we highlighted the many unbelievably impressive woman making tremendous positive impacts on the world.  And once again, because she’s really attractive was not an accepted answer.


With the weekend quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure every member of the squad was reminded of the heroes who have come before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice, reinforcing just how special the organization we have signed up for really is.  Therefore, Thursday was “Thank You Thursday.”  On Thursday, each plebe would do research and be prepared to talk about someone who had given his or her life to a grateful nation, so that we could pay our regards and thanks to them for their actions.  

While there were many amazing people brought up through the course of the semester, I want to take this Thursday to say thank you to Captain Matt Manoukian, USMC.  

The Manoukian family is from the San Francisco Bay Area and are family friends with Team Vermeer, which makes this hit even closer to home.   Captain Manoukian was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion and was on deployment in Afghanistan.  While there, his unit was tasked with training the local Afghan police forces to help provide stability to the region.

On August 10, 2012, a rogue Afghan police officer opened fire and began to attack the marines in the tactical operations center.  Matt engaged the shooter, attracting the fire to himself so that his other marines could get to safety, and continued to fight until he fell to the overwhelming fire.  Captain Matt Manoukian was the epitome of selfless sacrifice and a true warrior ethos.  If you would like to know more about Matt, you can read this military times article or you can like the “Remembering Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian, USMC” to show your support for both Matthew and his family.

Thank you for your service, sir.  And thank you to Socrates Pete Manoukian and family for lending your hero to the nation.  On this Thursday, we thank you.


Friday was a much more lighthearted and fun day as the weekend was 2 class periods away.  After stealing this from one of my squad leaders when I was a youngster (sophomore), my squad participated in “Freestyle Friday.”  While many squads do a “Joke Friday” where the plebes have to bring a joke to the table, I preferred making my plebes bring a rap to the table, and perform the rap.  Some were ABSOLUTELY terrible as some plebes have zero rhythm whatsoever, and yet some were surprisingly pretty decent.

When I was a youngster, Reese Mathis was a plebe in my squad, and was one of the few who brought very well thought out lyrics, and a highly quality performance week in and week out.  I thought he was an anomaly and I would never see anything like it again.  That is until midshipman 4/C Aspen Bess sat down at the table on the first Friday of the year and BROUGHT THE HEAT.  

Naturally, after continued highly impressive performances by Midshipman Bess, a rap battle was scheduled between Midshipman 4/C Bess and Midshipman 2/C Mathis for the final Friday of the semester.  While both parties would argue about the outcome of this battle, it definitely was a SPECTACLE in King Hall as basically the entirety of 26th Company gathered around the table to hear it go down.

Squads Matter

As you can tell, our meals were filled with professional development, but also with fun.  I was blessed with an amazing squad, and amazing people who made the semester awesome.   So the next time you talk to your midshipman, ask them about their squad leader and their squad as a whole, because it can be the source of many great stories and fun!