Naval Academy Barber Departs, After 3 Decades of Service
Updated: Friday, July 4 2014, 06:57 PM EDT
Thousands of new plebes embarked on a new journey this week, as they reported for duty at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. As they begin a new chapter of their lives, a fixture at the Maryland institution is saying his goodbyes.
Induction day is always full of anxiety at the Naval Academy, and many firsts. Over the years, thousands of young midshipmen have sat in the same chairs, to get the very same cut. A style you can only call buzzed, or maybe breezy.
For nearly 33 years Ernest Smith has been there to offer a warm welcome, and a hearty laugh.
"He's been part of the team for so long and he helps soothe a lot of nervous people," Commander Bill Byrne said. "He smiles to them and sends them on their way happy and ready to rock and roll."
"Smitty" has helped make a lot of memories for the plebes, and he's captured most of them with his pocket-size camera. He says the Naval Academy is a sort of family legacy -- his father retired from there as head chef and his brother and sister also worked in the Academy's barber shop.
This year's induction day was Smitty's last at the Academy.
From commandants to coworkers, everyone says they'll miss him. But even retirement is unlikely to keep him away for long.
"I'll come in, you know, from time to time just to say hello," Smith said.
Looking back, there's been a lot to laugh about. He's shaved the heads of captains and even admirals. But it's the plebes who stand out, and they will forever be a part of the stories he shares, long into the future.
Bon voyage, Smitty, we all salute your service.