Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf had this message for the Naval Academy's newest crop of graduates: "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."
While Schwarzkopf may have intended to give graduates greater perspective on their four years of hard work and future training, the midshipmen and their 20,000 guests found a more literal meaning in his message yesterday.
Beneath a bright blue, sunny sky, with temperatures climbing into the mid-90s, midshipmen wiped their brows and spectators turned commencement programs into fans.
The sweltering day was the backdrop for the 141st graduation of midshipmen from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium featured moments of levity, the traditional hat toss, the first active-duty Army general to address graduates and a rear admiral addressing them for the last time.
"This is my last graduation," said Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill, his voice choked with emotion. "I guess I have dreaded this day as much as you have looked forward to it. The highs and the lows."
Hill, Naval Academy superintendent, is to end his three-year tour at the academy next month.
In his speech, Hill made reference to accidents that had killed midshipmen, including a fiery car crash in Pennsylvania in 1989 that took the lives of four cross-country runners. "The day we had the memorial [for the runners] was probably the hardest day I had here," he said.
In his address, Schwarzkopf said he wasn't sure what a general would say to Navy midshipmen, but that he was honored to have been invited.
"I'd like to think that I was invited to speak because I was lucky enough to lead the largest and finest multiservice operation in victory," said the commander of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
He and midshipmen exchanged joking references to the long-standing Army-Navy sports rivalry. The general told them he was the commencement speaker because he had won -- or lost -- a bet on an Army-Navy game. While Schwarzkopf was receiving cheers and standing ovations , police apprehended a man who allegedly threatened the general.
Annapolis police Officer Dermott Hickey, who was positioned on top of the stadium, said he received a call about 11 a.m. to be on the lookout for a man who, moments earlier, had tried to enter the campus without authorization.
Shortly after that call, Hickey said, he spotted the man, wearing a camouflage uniform, black baseball cap and black boots, entering the west stadium parking lot. He radioed other officers and the man was apprehended without trouble before he had reached the stadium field.
The man was identified as Scott Arthur Bradley, 34, of Annapolis. Hickey said Bradley's mother, who lives in Severna Park, called police earlier yesterday after her son came to her house and tried to get his grandfather's .22-caliber rifle. Bradley told his mother he was going to the academy to see Schwarzkopf, police said.
Hickey said Bradley has a history of psychiatric problems and impersonating police officers and that he was being held on a petition for emergency evaluation. Police said no charges were pending, save for possible trespassing on academy grounds.