Kropp was a secret geek in high school. He thoroughly enjoyed sports, rap, and women but had a soft spot for cartoons. He says he would secretly want to be a superhero if he had the chance – “a dope superhero” at that. He is currently a USC student studying environmental science, is enrolled in the NROTC program and loves to skateboard. He has very close ties with his extended family. He hopes to one day commission into the navy as an officer.
One of the roughest part of being in the military are the old traditions. One of them is the “Pinning Ceremony”. In the military there is a rank system. You start at the bottom and slowly start making your way up the ladder. A rank is worn on the collar of the uniform shirt. The rank is a small metal insignia about an inch in length and width. It is pinned to the collar by two prongs that are closed at the back of the collar with frogs (the way an earring is pierced to an ear). One of the oldest traditions in the military is what you do with this pin. Kropp was invited to an advancement ceremony of one of his fellow sailors down in Camp Pendleton a few months ago. The commanding officer speaks and lots of pictures are taking; sailors are dressed up in their uniform. Sailors invite family and friends to these so that they may place the rank on the sailor, give them a kiss and that concludes the ceremony. Kropp said that after the ceremony was when the tradition took part.
Sailors were taking back to their individual commands and then spit up by rank. All of the third classes (4th rank) went with their department heads – their chiefs. And the seconds and first classes with theirs. In order to truly earn your rank, you had to bleed for it. Chiefs would tell sailors to remove the frogs from the back of the rank (the rank still easily remains on the collar). Then all of his department, mostly those that ranked above him would “beat the living hell out of ’em” Kropp says. They punch the rank into your collar bone until you bleed. When Kropps friend came out, he asked him how it went. His shoulder bled and there was a smile on his face. Weird, huh? He just got a beating and he was content.
Analysis: This is not a tradition that is validated by the Navy. All sorts of hazing are both frowned upon and illegal by mandate of the Chief of Naval Operations. This tradition still continues because of how most traditions survive. “If I had to do it, so do you.” In the military, you’re not supposed to be able to skate by. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. It’s a job meant for tough men and women. Traditions like this may not be sane in the least bit, nor are they supposed to be happening. But the sailors want it. They look forward to it. Because they know they will not belong with their fellow chiefs unless they went through what they went through. One of the fastest ways to build brotherhood in this world is to shed a little blood for each other. And who does that better than the United States Military.