On 18 September 1987, Paul Stillwell interviewed Captain Tomlinson when he was in Annapolis for the 70th anniversary of the graduation of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1918. Tomlinson and his classmates left Annapolis a year early because of World War I. He went on to a distinguished career in aviation. This is an edited excerpt of their interview.
Being a midshipman at the Naval Academy was an escape from problems in high school in New York State. The board of education thought I’d be better off somewhere else, so my family obtained an appointment for me to the Naval Academy. During summer 1914, the only entrance to Bancroft Hall the plebes were allowed to use was the main entrance. The ones at the ends of the original wings were always kept locked. To cut down on foot travel, I studied the construction of Bancroft Hall and decided that with the crevices between the stone blocks, I could slip along with my feet on the level with the bottom of the window sill. There was a similar device for handholds up above.