Boston University NROTC Holds Commissioning Ceremony

BOSTON, Massachusetts. (May 18, 2015) – Ten Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen and Marines were commissioned as naval officers at the Hillel House on Boston University’s campus.

The eight Navy-option and two Marine-option Boston University and Boston College NROTC students were recognized by the guest of honor, Captain Christopher Simpson, USMC, in front of an audience of more than two hundred people before entering military service. These newly commissioned officers will serve around the globe in a variety of military occupational specialties including aviation, surface warfare, submarine warfare and Marine Corps air and ground.

Commissioned as ensigns were, Andrew Bates, Hannah Constantakis, Joshua Dalva, Alexander Hayden, Braydon Hummeldorf, Akshat Patel, Elizabeth Shaffer, and Sarah Verille. Commissioned as 2nd lieutenants were, Karly Boettcher and Paul Sean-Woo Kim. All were commissioned by officers of their choosing.

Captain Simpson delivered his address to the audience and gave resonating advice to the new ensigns and 2nd lieutenants. He stressed the importance of caring for one’s people, offering the wisdom that “it’s not about you anymore,” and that the future ensigns and 2nd lieutenants will always have to put their people first. Captain Simpson is preparing to take command of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines and he has previously served in three combat tours in Iraq, one as a Lance Corporal and two as an officer after obtaining his commission through OCS. Captain Simpson has also served as the Executive Officer of Recruiting Station New Jersey, and was the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruiting Command. Captain Steve Benke, Commanding Officer of the Boston NROTC Consortium, remarked that it was a “wonderful opportunity to watch these ensigns grow over the last 3 years, and it was “very exciting to see their first step” into the Fleet.

Ensign Hannah Constantakis, a new surface warfare officer who will report aboard the USS San Diego in San Diego, California, reflected on her journey through NROTC, saying “I’m going to miss the close knit community I had in ROTC. Every year we’ve grown stronger together, learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and contributing what we can to make our team the best it can be. We all come from different backgrounds, but together we’ve made something really special. Although it’s sad to be leaving, I’ll always hold our memories in a special place and I look forward to future positive communities in the fleet.”

Christopher Hayden, father of Ensign Alexander Hayden, proclaimed praise for these new ensigns, noting that he was “super proud of what these guys represent” and that after getting “the best education, they will surely be successful in their pursuits.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Blair, who served as the officer-in-charge for the senior commissioning, said that it was a “heartfelt and touching” ceremony, encapsulated by “excellent speeches” by all parties. Overall, the commissioning at Boston University was a memorable event for all and marks the beginning of an important journey for the new ensigns and 2nd lieutenants. Fair winds and following seas to the Class of 2015.

The NROTC program, overseen by Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

For more information about NROTC, visit For more information about NSTC, visit or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at

By Midshipman Sean J. Spata

Admiral Harris Speaks to BU-MIT NROTC Midshipmen


By Midshipman 4th Class Zach Litwin, BU-MIT NROTC

BOSTON (Apr. 28, 2015)—“Attention on deck! Admiral Harris on deck. Good morning, sir.” This week, Midshipmen from Boston Consortium NROTC unit received a visit from Admiral Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Admiral addressed the 1/C as well as a number of other Midshipmen and Unit Staff.

A visit from an Admiral is a rare occasion in any forum, so those who attended were fortunate to have such an amazing opportunity in a small-group setting. Admiral Harris has 41 years of training and operational experience. He graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1978 and became a naval flight officer. In addition to his strong educational background, Admiral Harris has significant and diverse operational and staff experiences upon which he based his remarks and advice to the Midshipmen and Staff.

In his address, the Admiral strongly urged those present to “be the best that you can be wherever you go” because much can be learned from every experience. He stressed that mentors and a positive attitude are of great value when planning and completing difficult assignments and added that “you can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”

When discussing his philosophy for leadership and training, the Admiral focused on balancing priorities and maximizing the two vectors of mission success: “smarts” and “motivation.”

One of the Midshipmen asked “What can Midshipmen do during their time in NROTC to prepare themselves for their future careers in the Navy?” Admiral Harris responded, “I think you can learn how to work together” and stressed that teamwork involves both receiving and giving help.

“It’s a team sport, and you’re going to have to carry each other,” said Harris.

The Admiral went on to further discuss the important role of diversity in the Navy and its positive effects on teams and organizations. He emphasized that today’s diverse Navy represents impressive improvements from the past but reminded the Midshipmen that more work lies ahead.

When asked about the visit, MIDN 1/C Klatt from MIT commented, “Admiral Harris gave us a lot of advice, and I think everyone in attendance benefited greatly from his visit.”

While the Boston Consortium is lucky to have access to excellent guest speakers from many different backgrounds, the BU and MIT Midshipmen and Staff were especially grateful for this extraordinary in-person visit by one of the nation’s highest ranking and most experienced military officers.

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Spring 2015 Change of Command

15-04-29 NROTC

By Midshipman 4th Class Garrett Gozdur, BU NROTC Unit

BU-MIT NROTC Midshipman Battalion Change of Command

BOSTON (Apr. 29, 2015) – Another semester full of rewarding activities has come to an end. Today, MIDN 1/C Forsey relinquished his battalion commander position to MIDN 2/C Holcomb.

A lot of preparation went into the ceremony; Midn 1/C Boettcher and MIDN 2/C Conkey, Commander of Troops and Parade Adjutant respectively, executed it successfully under Gunnery Sergeant Askew’s guidance. The ceremony consisted of several parts, all designed to mimic a change of command in the fleet.

Following an awards ceremony for those going above and beyond, the Parade Adjutant assembled the battalion and the color guard presented the national ensign for the National Anthem. The platoon commanders and staff then marched to the center, where the commanding officers issued the orders and instructions to the unit commanders.

The most significant part of the ceremony was the transferring of the guide-ons. The CMC assisted in the passing on of the MIT and BU guide-ons from MIDN Forsey to MIDN Holcomb. The passing of the guide-ons signified the transfer of total responsibility, authority, and accountability for the midshipmen battalion.

Captain Benke remarked on the successes of the semester and wished everyone luck, both to the seniors as they commission and to everyone else preparing to train with the fleet on summer cruises.

In MIDN Forsey’s speech, he commented on the difficulties of the semester with the large amounts of snow, but was happy with its successes. After the ceremony, MIDN Forsey said, “I want to thank all my staff for the hard work they put in. I’m excited for MIDN Holcomb and his new team and can’t wait to hear how they do next year.”

MIDN Holcomb set out his expectations after receiving command of the battalion. His vision for next semester is to focus on ethical decision-making, open and efficient communication, and interaction with current Navy and Marine Corps personnel. “Making these three things priorities will help us to most effectively train and prepare for leadership, in the fleet and in our everyday lives,” he said.

MIDN Holcomb finished with a nod to the previous staff:  “The seniors gave us really big shoes to fill, but I’m excited about what we’ve got in store for everyone in the fall.”

We all wish the best for the seniors as they commission and hope that everyone has a great summer.

Senior Spotlight: Karly Boettcher

Midn 1/c Karly Boettcher will graduate next month as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. She attends Boston University and majors in Health Science at Sargent College. Midn Boettcher has always had the desire to serve her country, and her dedication to the NROTC program proves that she is very committed to her dream of becoming a Marine Officer. This past summer she graduated Officer Candidate School and was selected as BnXO for this Spring Semester.

Midn Boettcher takes her job as a leader seriously. She is a strong believer in mentorship and setting the right example. According to Midn Boettcher, “There is no set path or decision that is right for everyone, but if you always carry yourself with honor and integrity, that is something that everyone can look up to.”

As a future Marine Officer, Midn Boettcher hopes to join the aviation community and is currently awaiting a flight contract. The aviation community suits Midn Boettcher’s personality well. She is adventurous and loves life. This past fall semester Midn Boettcher studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland where she had an amazing experience.

Outside of NROTC, you will find Midn Boettcher enjoying the great outdoors. She loves participating in activities such as swimming, biking, and hiking (a great Marine Corps pastime). She is also an avid gym goer and is currently training to become an instructor for Russian Kettle Bells. If she was stuck on a desert island all she would need would be some good books, sunscreen, and food. Midn Boettcher stays true to her roots as a future Marine Corps Officer. Marines are used to being stuck outside with the bare minimum.

Midn Boettcher’s time at the BU NROTC unit is coming to an end. Her advice to rising underclassmen is “look for the training value in ROTC. Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Failure is a part of learning. In order to be successful you must learn from your mistakes.

Semper Gumby Always Flexible is her motto. “Things are always going to change, but you’ve got to adapt and [overcome].”

The Old Ironsides Battalion wishes Midn 1/c Karly Boettcher luck in her future endeavors and her next training school TBS in Quantico, Virginia where she will report this fall.

Senior Spotlight: Vadim Reytblat

MIDN 1/c Vadim Reytblat has been a force of wisdom and guidance through his ROTC career in the Old Ironsides Battalion. As a leader and mentor throughout his four years, Reytblat has proven to be an example of toughness, focus, and commitment to service. Although born in the Ukraine, MIDN Reytblat grew up in America, specifically, Los Angeles. To Tufts and to Navy ROTC, he brought a love for activity–anything outdoors and sporty–as well as his competitive spirit, an appetite for reading, studying leadership examples, and engaging in thoughtful conversations.

His values as a leader could best be epitomized by Gunnery Sergeant Basilone, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, as well as by Justice Louis Brandeis, a member of the Supreme Court, once hailed as a “Robin Hood of the law.” A man of principle, MIDN Reytblat emphasizes the importance of listening, apologizing, and seeking consultation before acting on important decisions that will affect a group. Additionally, MIDN Reytblat consistently expresses gratitude to those around him and he believes in the power of the people who wear the uniform.

While he will be leaving Boston for the 10th Fleet–to work in Cyber Command–he carries with him the preparedness afforded by his Tufts Mechanical Engineering degree, but more importantly his paracord and knife–ready for the challenge of an Intel officer career. If you want to catch him before graduation, commission, and leaving Boston, he always loves a homecooked meal!

MIDN 2/C Schott

Senior Spotlight: Joanna Chen

After commissioning this spring, Joanna Chen will head to Basic Division Officers Course (BDOC) in San Diego, where she will begin the Surface Warfare part of her career in the Surface Warfare Nuclear Program.  Inspired by the excellence, motivation, and selflessness of the people she met at Summer Seminar at the Naval Academy, Joanna joined ROTC her freshmen year. Since then, she’s been able to balance a rigorous schedule of Materials Science and Engineering, ROTC, and MIT pole vault (with a career high of 3.5 meters), with the knowledge that she has a purpose, and in the end everything will be good. She will continue this tradition after graduation by leading and mentoring sailors aboard the DDG-60 Paul Hamilton in Pearl Harbor, following BDOC.

Joanna is driven by the hope that she will make an impact on her sailors’ lives, grow as a leader, and see the world. Already in the company, she’s had a big influence on the underclassmen throughout her many roles, including Company Commander. The best advice she ever received was, “whatever you do, wherever you end up, do it to the best of your ability. Everyone is human, and should be respected as such”.

For those of us not commissioning this spring, she challenges us to “keep your mind open. It’s crazy what can happen if you do”.

Senior Spotlight: Erik Klatt

Erik Klatt is a simple man with an appreciation for the classics. Hailing from Uniontown, PA, he grew up with a close family who taught him a work ethic that has been with him his whole life. He is no stranger to working with his hands, and would be just as comfortable working on a farm as he is in the machine shop. However, this did not stop him from pursuing a rigorous education in mechanical engineering at MIT. His desire to “build stuff” led him to his degree, and his desire to serve his country led him to the United States Navy.

The military runs through MIDN Klatt’s veins as he carries on his family’s strong tradition of service. Both of MIDN Klatt’s grandfathers served in the military, one in the Navy in WWII and the other in the Air Force in the Korean War, and both of his parents are Air Force veterans. Although MIDN Klatt considered following in his parents’ footsteps into the Air Force, he came to his senses before arriving at college and decided on a naval career. Later this year he will begin his career in the navy submarine service, taking one step closer to his goal of running “secret sub stuff” in defense of the nation.

One of MIDN Klatt’s greatest contributions to the Boston NROTC battalion is his leadership by example, whether inspiring the battalion as command master chief with his immaculate uniform, organizing gym groups after his two semesters as physical training officer, or setting a new standard for men’s hair with his signature comb over. His dedication to his country is palpable; his American flag swim trunks have made appearances all around the world, and if he found himself stranded on a desert island, he could not be content unless he brought all of America with him, along with his gun and Bible.

His experiences over his four years at MIT have given him a great deal of insight to share with the younger classes. He makes a point of recognizing the opportunities that he has been given, both to be thankful for them as well as to ensure that he is taking full advantage. He also encourages everyone to learn from every experience they encounter. He says to “take your successes, your failures, others’ successes, and others’ failures, and realize that there is something to learn from every situation.” Even when he finds himself in an uncomfortable location, he sees true leadership as being able to perform to the maximum.

MIDN Klatt will continue to perform to the max when he graduates, commissions, and deploys to Nuclear Power School. If you find yourself visiting Charleston, SC, you may find ENS Klatt pursuing some of his favorite hobbies; working out, playing the piano, or eating waffles, but he will always be working to improve himself and serve his country.

By MIDN 2/C Holcomb


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