Boston NROTC Consortium Change of Command

COC

Photo by Ms. Phyllis Norwood

Article by ENS Robert Conkey

On Friday June 10th the command of the Boston Navy ROTC Consortium formally changed hands from CAPT Steven M. Benke to CAPT James E. Horten in a change of command ceremony.  With an 18th floor view from Boston University’s west campus, downtown Boston and the Charles River were a perfect backdrop for CAPT Benke to finish out four great years in Boston.

After both CAPT Benke and CAPT Horten were piped aboard, the crew of the USS Constitution presented the colors for the playing of the national anthem. ENS Conner Love then gave the invocation to pray for both the incoming and outgoing commanding officers.  From there, CAPT Benke gave his remarks thanking his friends, family, and staff for their hard work and support over four years.  He spoke of how rewarding he found the job to mentor, lead, and grow Midshipmen from high school graduates and commission them as Naval officers.

Following CAPT Benke’s remarks, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his leadership and success in meeting the NROTC mission and accession goals. He was also presented a framed picture of the Boston Battalion, with the frame made of wood and copper from the hull of the USS Constitution.  From there, each Captain read his orders and CAPT Horten formally accepted total responsibility, authority, and accountability from CAPT Benke.  CAPT Horten followed with his concise remarks, stating that he is ready and looking forward to assuming command and taking on the role of Commanding Officer of the Boston NROTC Consortium.  After a closing benediction from ENS Love wishing them good will in their future endeavors the Captains were piped ashore and everyone enjoyed a reception in the back.

CAPT Horten’s last duty station was Commanding Officer of Cornell University’s Naval ROTC unit. From Boston, CAPT Benke’s next tour of duty will be in Norfolk, Virginia working with Submarine Forces Atlantic.

 

Four New Officers Commissioned at Boston College

BC Commissioning 2016By ENS Jasper Burns

Boston Consortium NROTC commissioned four Boston College graduates into the Navy and Marine Corps last Sunday, May 22nd. ENS Longest, ENS Rogers, ENS Spata, and 2nd LT Hamilton all commissioned in a joint ceremony with BC army cadets on the Bapst Lawn.

The Master of Ceremonies was Army Cadet Robert Chesler, who introduced the commissionees and introduced the Professor of Military Science, LtCol Timothy Ferguson. Following LtCol Ferguson’s remarks, were those by the Guest of Honor, Major General James F. Pasquarette, Commanding General of United States Army Japan, who had flown in from Japan the previous night for the sake of this commissioning.  He noted that being at the ceremony was not a burden, but an honor.

After his speech, each commissionee came up in turn to take their oath. 2nd Lt Connell of BC Army said some words as class speaker, and then all the new officers received their first salutes in front of BC’s Golden Eagle.

MIDN 1/C Reid noted that “One of the best parts about this ceremony was that it brought BC’s Army and Navy units together, which is something that doesn’t happen too often. As a result, there were many jokes regarding the age-old rivalry between the two branches, but the guest speakers also spoke about joint operations between the two and the importance of each branch by itself.”

ENS Longest and ENS Rogers will be reporting to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton as Navy Nurses. ENS Spata is going to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola as a Naval Flight Officer, and 2nd Lt Hamilton will be headed to The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia for training as a Marine Officer.

BU Commissions 9 New Officers Onboard USS Constitution

BU commissioning 2016Photo by Phyllis Norwood and Article by ENS Ashley Potts

On May 16, 2016 the nine 1/C Midshipmen of Boston University became commissioned officers in a ceremony onboard the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship still in active service, the USS Constitution. Eight are headed into the US Navy, while the other is headed to the US Marine Corps. 6 Midshipmen also volunteered to help with the ceremony as sideboys – MIDN 1/C Koch, MIDN 1/C Reid, MIDN 2/C Lopez, MIDN 2/C Ladine, MIDN 3/C Haley, and MIDN 3/C Kierstead.

Ensign Love, chosen by his class to be the class representative, gave the opening speech. In his speech, he talked about the bonds the 1/C-now Ensigns- shared, and how they were proud to be joining an organization as rich and full of tradition as the US Navy. ENS King stated that his speech was “incredibly motivational”.

RDML Danelle Barrett, Deputy Director of Current Operations at U.S. Cyber Command and graduate of Boston University NROTC, was in attendance to read the 1/C their Oath of Office. In her keynote address, she made remarks about each of the seniors, encouraging each of them to make their mark.

ENS Sternstein said that “it was awesome having all of our families there to celebrate with us the culmination of 4 years of hard work, and our entrance into the naval service” while ENS Burns noted that “it was great for my non-military family to finally see me in uniform and experience a commissioning full of naval tradition and on the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy.” MIDN 1/c Reid, a sideboy at the ceremony, said of the ceremony itself that “seeing all the seniors that I have known for three years in ROTC commission and become Ensigns was humbling and inspiring and really made me excited for our class next year.”

2nd Lt Frayne-Reixa will be going to TBS in Quantico, Virginia. ENS Conkey, ENS Sternstein, ENS Love, ENS Guerra, and ENS Grissino will be heading to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida to become Student Naval Aviators. ENS Burns and ENS Potts will also be heading to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida as Naval Flight Officers.  ENS King is going to Navy Propulsion Training Command in Charleston, South Carolina to train as a Submarine Officer.

Spring 2016 Change Of Command

Photo By MIDN 4/c Savannah Clarke and Article by MIDN 4/c Mary Kierstead

In lieu of the usual Leadership Lab, midshipmen donned their summer whites last Wednesdays to participate in the Change of Command Ceremony.  A change of command is a military tradition that represents a transfer of responsibility.  In this case, it signified the turnover of the duties of Midshipmen Battalion Commander from MIDN 1/C Pushaw  to MIDN 2/C Koch.  The ceremony began with the guest speaker, Colonel Penzola, who imparted words of advice to the current and future battalion commanders.  He ended his speech with a quote from John Boyd, a former Air Force Fighter Pilot.  Boyd refused to compromise his morals for advancement:

“And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.” He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.” Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something — something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.”

Colonel Penzola concluded by challenging midshipmen, “To be or to do, which way will you go?”

Following the speech, MIDN 1/C Carolyn Pushaw relinquished her responsibilities as Battalion Commander to MIDN 2/C Brendan Koch.  MIDN Koch realizes the challenges the midshipmen will face next semester, “but I am confident in each midshipman here to meet those experiences with diligence and as opportunities for development.”  As the first class commissions, the underclassmen are looking forward to another year of growth and development as leaders.

Following the Change of Command, the midshipmen headed inside for an awards ceremony.  Several first class midshipmen were recognized for their outstanding performance in the battalion.  MIDN Carolyn Pushaw received the Harvard ROTC Aviation Award and the Marine Officer’s Sword.  MIDN Carolena Ruprecht received the Surface Navy Association ROTC Award.  The Professor of Naval Science Award was given to MIDN Longest and MIDN Nonnamaker.  MIDN King and MIDN Holcomb were both awarded the Naval Officer’s Sword.  Other company level awards were given out to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of the midshipmen this semester.  MIT 2nd Platoon received Honor Platoon and MIDN 3/C Kellner and MIDN 3/C Mule were awarded Midshipman of the Semester.

The ceremony was followed by breakfast where the midshipmen celebrated another successful year in ROTC.

MIDN Tour Active Submarine

Photo and Article by MIDN 4/C Edward Natkin

On Saturday, April 23, midshipmen from five Boston schools had the opportunity to visit the USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine homeported in Groton, CT. The Hartford is an improved Los Angeles Class boat that recently returned from ICEX 2016, where she and her crew breached the polar ice cap several times and practiced conducting operations in the far north. Despite an early wake up on a Saturday, the midshipmen in attendance were excited to learn more about the submarine community and take advantage of the rare (and for most of their classmates nonexistent) opportunity to get an intimate tour of an active US Navy submarine. Following their time aboard the Hartford, the midshipmen also visited the Submarine Force Museum and the USS Nautilus museum submarine.

Midshipmen were split into two groups for the tour in order to navigate the narrow passageways and small compartments onboard the Hartford. The tours were led by two Second Class Petty Officers, both of whom were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the Hartford and her various systems. In the Hartford’s control center midshipmen heard from the Duty Officer, a lieutenant junior grade who spoke about the roles and responsibilities of a junior officer onboard a submarine. As they worked their way through the boat, midshipmen spoke with sailors from various rates and ranks about their areas of expertise and the systems they operate. One thing stressed by everyone onboard was the tight-knit community atmosphere and the high level of trust that all sailors and officers on the boat must have in one another. Interestingly, on submarines there are no dedicated damage control men or firefighters. If there is an emergency, everyone onboard has a responsibility, from the XO who serves as the incident commander to the cook who doubles as a paramedic.

Upon entering the wardroom the midshipmen and unit staff were fortunate to be greeted by the Hartford’s new XO. The XO asked the midshipmen about their career interests within the Navy and did his best to sell them on the submarine force. Specifically he cited the higher pay, opportunities to pursue advanced degrees, and the exciting (though secretive) missions and deployments. He then answered questions from the midshipmen on topics ranging from the ongoing integration of the submarine force to the challenges of raising a family as a sub officer.

Following the tour of the Hartford, midshipmen visited the Submarine Force Museum and walked through the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. The museum was very interesting, but after having almost unfettered access to the Hartford, the audio-guided tour of the Nautilus couldn’t really compare. However, it was remarkable to see how much has changed, and how much hasn’t, since the early days of nuclear power. On the whole, the day was highly successful, with the midshipmen learning a tremendous deal about the culture, operations, and history of the Navy’s “silent service”.

SecNav Speaks with Midshipmen

Written by MIDN 4/C Beckett Pulis

On 13 April 2016, Midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Battalion, graduate students of Harvard, and military personnel gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to hear from The Honorable Ray Mabus – the 75th Secretary of the Navy. The lecture, entitled “Universities, the Navy, and the Marines: Presence, Partnership, and the Way Ahead,” marked the five-year anniversary of the reinstatement of Harvard’s NROTC program following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010.

The lecture began with a few remarks from Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. She discussed the importance of the NROTC Program to Harvard and the uptick in enrollment in NROTC for the Class of 2020 before introducing SECNAV. SECNAV then presented her with a Marine Corps Saber to show his gratitude for the program’s return to Harvard.

SECNAV discussed the need for a more integrated and diverse military. “Today, less than 1 percent of the United States population serves in the military,” he noted. “Forty or fifty years ago, almost everyone had a close relative in the military.” He said, “A more diverse force is a stronger force. We must reflect the people we protect.” SECNAV cited examples such as expanding military enrollment to the LGBTQ community and opening up all billets to women as instances in which the Navy has strengthened itself through diversity.

He also took the time to highlight his plan for the future of the Navy. First, he said, there must be a focus on innovation in order to inspire new possibilities with service. Additionally, he called for a transition to promoting people based on merit rather than years of service. SECNAV cited progress in creating a single uniform so that women did not have to wear a separate uniform from men. Lastly, he briefly touched on the need to reform the VA; specifically, to work on reducing the amount of time a veteran has to wait for proper treatment.

Following the lecture, SECNAV took some time to field questions about ROTC enrollment and integrating females.  He was also asked whether incentives to join the military take away from one’s sense of service – to which he responded that anyone who joins must have a sense of service to his or her country regardless of the incentive.

Afterward, the midshipmen gathered outside with CAPT Benke for a group photo before SECNAV headed out to Fenway Park to throw the first pitch for the Red Sox home opener.  The midshipmen appreciated the opportunity to hear the perspective of senior Navy leaders right in their own backyard.

FEX III

Photo by MIDN 3/C Ben Brewer

Written by MIDN 4/C Emily Ly

Instead of going out and partying on a Friday night, 15 Marine Option Midshipmen boarded a van and departed Boston University for Fort Devens for their third and final Field Exercise (FEX) of the year. It was also long one – Friday evening until Sunday morning.

The ride there was full of jokes and laughs.  Once the van stopped, however, the midshipmen soon became “candidates.” The cadre, all OCS graduates, turned on their Sergeant Instructor personas and simulated what Officer Candidate School (OCS) would be like. Memories of freshmen indoctrination came flooding back as the candidates were being yelled at to “move faster” and “sound off louder.”

The first thing these candidates had to do was set up their tents. The sun was setting and the hike was about to kick off. This 10 miler, although lacking in hills, made it up in length. Led by Major Hritz and OIC MIDN Frayne, all candidates performed well and finished. Once they reached the campsite, it was time for bed.

When the candidates woke up the next morning at 0630, it was time to kick off Squad in the Offensive (SITO). A pace count was led by PltCmdr Candidate Schaffino, followed by a run to the site. With camouflage face paint on, for the next four and a half hours, the bulldogs, Candidates Schaffino, Noviello, Murray, King and Finn, led their fire teams through various scenarios.

When SITO was over, it was only 1230 – the day was far from over. GySgt Askew brought out six rifles and led a weapons class. Each candidate was allotted time to break apart the rifle and learn how to put it back together again.

At approximately 1400, it was drill time. GySgt Askew showed the candidates how to fall in, dress right and look locked on. Right after drill was a 3-mile run with rifles to the Endurance Course. This course tested the candidates’ abilities and durability, as they had to jump walls, climb ropes, low crawl in the sand, sprint uphill and go over logs with their feet sore and blistered.

The Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) was the next event. This event tests how well the leader overcomes failure by always trying out new ways of resolution. The candidates’ next event was to map out their points and find the distance/azimuths for night land navigation. Once the azimuths and distances were done, they headed back to the new bivouac site to set up the tents once again. This time, set up went in a smooth manner. The candidates understood that the goal was not to get their own tent together as quick as possible, but for the entire platoon to finish.

Compasses and eye protection were handed out to the pairs and once the sun had set, they set out to see if their calculations were accurate. Pair by pair, they came back and hopped into the warm van, waiting to go back to the bivouac site. The day was long and FEX III was almost over; the only thing that stood between the candidates and the trip home was an 8-hour fire watch. Each tent was assigned 1:15 hours of watch in the cold.

The candidates woke up at 0500, put their tents away and started loading all the gear back into the van. Gear accountability was pushed heavily and nothing was lost. The car ride back home soon fell silent as the exhausted candidates fell asleep. After unloading the vans and returning rifles, a hot wash was conducted to talk about the FEX – the good and the bad – with coffee and bagels provided by Major Hritz. Everyone was dismissed at 1030 with the rest of the day waiting for them.

All in all, despite the exhaustion, there were a lot of laughs shared by this tight knit group of candidates throughout the weekend and definitely many memories made.

 

Welcome to the official blog of BU, BC, MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern Naval ROTC. Thank you for your support! Please direct any questions to seadawgpao@gmail.com.

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