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USNA Class of 2023 Select Honorary Classmates

  POSTED ON: Friday, May 26, 2023 5:56 PM by

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 26, 2023) Each year, the graduating class of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) nominate and select three individuals each year to be recognized during the graduation and commissioning ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium as honorary members of their class.

The Class of 2023 thoughtfully chose retired Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski, and Mrs. Joanne Buck, wife of Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the Naval Academy’s 63rd Superintendent.

Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in actions against the enemy while serving in a four-man Special Reconnaissance element with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, Naval Special Warfare Task unit, Afghanistan in June 2005. The mission, known as Operation Red Wings, became one of the most widely known stories of resilience and courage after the release of the movie “Lone Survivor.”

For the graduating class, his impact extended far beyond the silver screen, especially as the midshipmen faced unprecedented times their plebe (freshman) year.

“During COVID, he spoke with us via virtual lectures known as “Late Nights with Luce Hall” and was a source of inspiration for the Class of 2023 during some of our most trying times,” said U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Grant Booker, Class of 2023 class president.

“The best advancement an enlisted SEAL could ever have,” said Luttrell upon hearing of his selection.

Slabinski is a retired Navy SEAL who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation Anaconda in 2002. He led a reconnaissance team to its assigned area atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot snow-covered mountain in Afghanistan to rescue teammate Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts. He also participated in the highly publicized rescue mission to recover Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch. 

According to Booker, Slabinski notably dedicated his time to mentoring midshipmen and played an instrumental role in the development of the Midshipman Ethos this past spring, which is proudly part of the legacy the Class of 2023 leaves behind. 

“The Naval Academy has a storied history of producing the Nation’s finest leaders,” said Slabinski. “To be recognized by this year’s class of future officer leaders and warfighters is a tremendous honor.” 

Like the Class of ‘23, Buck arrived at USNA the summer of 2019. 

“Throughout her time here, she has enthusiastically supported our class alongside her husband, Vice Adm. Buck,” said Booker. “She has been there for all of our big moments, from attending our musical and theatrical performances, to being on the sideline at our away games. She has hosted hundreds of events over the last four years , to include the creation of  the 1st Class Company Receptions that we all came to love so much. This new tradition will leave a lasting legacy on the Naval Academy, and we are so grateful that we got to be a part of it.”

Buck was humbled by the selection.

“Coming in together, it was like they were our children. We were there for their induction day and saw them all the way though; they have a special place in our hearts,” she said. “I wish them all the best in their future.”

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Category: People, General Interest