MIT Pass in Review

537764_399711556798224_1808935128_nMIT students moving about campus on the evening of October 26 this year were startled by an unusual sound – Howitzer fire. The thirteen-gun salute honored Major General Boera, the reviewing officer for this year’s Pass in Review at the MIT Corps of Cadets. Cadets and midshipmen from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force stood and marched in formation during the formal ceremony, which featured remarks from Captain Benke, Dean Dennis Freeman, and Major General Buera.

The Navy battalion was represented by its MIT Company, with students from MIT, Harvard, and Tufts participating. Midshipman Mic Byrne, the battalion commander, called commands for the company during the review, while several other future sailors and marines participated in color guard, overall coordination, and regimental staff portions of the event.

This pass in review ceremony is traditionally conducted at the end of the year, but the ceremony last spring was cancelled due to the April 15th bombings. However, the ceremony this October showcased students and instructors holding their heads high, coming out Boston Strong to support their units.

CAPT Benke addresses midshipmen and audience
CAPT Benke addresses midshipmen and audience

The ceremony began with the marching on of troops, followed by the playing of the national anthem. Honors were rendered to Major General Boera. Captain Steven Benke, Professor of Naval Science; Dennis Freeman, dean of undergraduate students; and Major General Boera gave their remarks. General Boera praised the midshipmen and cadets present and spoke on the importance of the United States military, turning at the beginning of his speech to make sure the students could hear him.

The ceremony concluded with a pass in review of the troops as the commanders marched their units around the field and rendered salutes to the general. Following the ceremony, pictures of the entire MIT corps of cadets were taken. Finally, all participants and audience members were invited to a reception.

1382102_399713090131404_1815841631_nThe event was an important reminder of the ultimate goal of students in ROTC – commissioning as officers in the United States military. It was an impressive ceremony, and it also provided an opportunity for freshmen and upperclassmen to bond in a more informal atmosphere and for students from different branches of ROTC to mingle.

Because the pass in review took place during the MIT parents’ weekend, many of the students’ families were able to come out and see the units at their finest and to meet some of their children’s comrades and teachers. Overall, the ceremony was a great way to increase camaraderie among the students and to give the parents both an opportunity to informally mingle and to see the unit at its covered, aligned, and disciplined best – with perhaps a few flinches the first time the Howitzers went off.

Written by: MIDN 4/c Lauren Mandaville

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Future Female Officer Club Spotlight

The Future Female Officer Club is a club composed of midshipmen from both the BU and MIT Companies. The club’s purpose is to congregate midshipmen in the battalion to discuss potential issues females will face in the fleet.  Additionally, since there are no current female Unit Staff members at the BU or MIT Units, it provides females the opportunity to interact with past and present female Naval and Marine Corps officers.

A group of female officers from Department Head School in Newport, RI, visit Boston for an FFO Club meeting
A group of female officers from Department Head School in Newport, RI, visit Boston for an FFO Club meeting

This semester has been very successful for the club.  We kicked off our first meeting in October with two experienced and wise officers: CAPT Frizzell and CAPT Majors.  The meeting began with a discussion of summer cruise experiences. Thereafter, midshipmen asked the officers questions about how to deal with the typical challenges the females face in the military.  The meeting was enjoyable and informative.

The second meeting of the semester was a treat for all who attended.  Four female Department Heads, who are attending the department head school in Newport, RI; and a commander, who is an instructor at the school; drove up to Boston University to speak with the women of the Boston Battalion. The officers were willing to answer any and all questions.  The first topic discussed was balancing and planning for marriage and children while having a naval career. The women revealed to the midshipmen that “having it all” is possible, but it takes a lot of thought, planning, and preparation.  It also takes a support network: it is important to have friends, family, and neighbors who are willing to help look after your children. The next topic of discussion dealt with managing emotions.  Following this, the group talked about being a woman in a man’s environment.  The officers emphasized that it is important to act yourself and not to change in effort to fit in.  They discussed how it can be tough to form a professional connection with your enlisted.  The conversation moved to the importance of refraining from judging other females for how they want to be perceived.  Lastly, the dangers of Facebook and social media wrapped up a very enlightening meeting. The guest speakers had a wealth of knowledge to provide female midshipmen, and the midshipmen were grateful they gave us their time.

For the final meeting of the semester, the clubs plans to take a trip to Newport and have lunch with the guest speaker from the previous meeting.  Overall, this semester, the female midshipmen have learned a great deal about being a female officer in the fleet and met some great contacts for future mentorship.

Written by: MIDN 3/c Abigail Guerra

North Dakota Christening Trip

1424280_405830129519700_602985379_nOn the second of November, eleven eager midshipmen, from both sides of the Charles River, piled into a van and headed for Groton, Connecticut. The midshipmen were on their way to witness the christening of a submarine into the world’s strongest and greatest maritime fighting force! The U.S.S North Dakota was about to join the United States Navy’s ever expanding submarine fleet.

The North Dakota is a Virginia Class submarine, displacing approximately 7,800 tons, measuring 377 feet in length, and capable of reaching speeds of over 25 knots underwater.  The Virginia Class is the only class of submarine currently being constructed by the Navy.  It is a fast attack nuclear class that serves as the Seawolf Class’s replacement. The North Dakota is the 11th submarine of the Virginia Class and the first Block III Virginia Class.  The Navy says that as the first “Block III” Virginia, “North Dakota will be the first of its class built with large-diameter tubes in the bow, a new type of bow sonar, and dozens of more discrete changes designed to reduce the ships construction and life cycle costs without sacrificing war fighting capabilities.”1

In attendance at the ceremony were the Governor of North Dakota; Senators from Connecticut, North Dakota, and Rhode Island; and United States Representatives from North Dakota and Connecticut. The main speaker at the Christening was Vice Admiral Michael J. Connor, Commander, Submarine Forces.  He has served on the Joint Staff, on the staff of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and as director, Submarine Warfare Division; director, Naval Warfare Integration Group; and assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems on the OPNAV staff.  VADM Connor assumed his current duties as Commander, Submarine Forces in September 2012. Rear Admiral David C. Johnson was also present. According to the official website of the United States Navy, “RADM Johnson is a 1982 graduate of MIT and is currently the program executive officer, Submarines. He is responsible for all new construction submarine programs, as well as acquisition and life cycle maintenance of submarine weapons, countermeasures, sonar, combat control and imaging systems. His PEO includes the Ohio Replacement SSBN and Virginia class SSN programs, which are the 2nd and 3rd largest programs respectively in the Department of Defense.”2

The ceremony began with a welcome from the President of General Dynamics Electric Boat, Kevin J. Poitras, and several speeches followed. The sponsor of the North Dakota, Katie Fowler, was thanked for her support and dedication to the project. Then the blessing of the boat took place and it was finally time to christen the submarine. “In the name of the United States, I christen thee, North Dakota. May God bless her and all that sail in her,” said Mrs. Fowler just before giving the bottle a brisk swing.  The midshipmen present were grateful for the opportunity to see not only the christened submarine, but also to hear the admirals speak.  After all, it is the example of men like them that midshipmen strive to follow. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the crew of the North Dakota shouted a resounding “Hooyah North Dakota,” and those present could not help but feel a sense of pride.

  1. Cragg, Jennifer, Lt. Cmdr. “Navy.mil Home Page.” North Dakota Governor Proclaims USS North Dakota Day. Navy.mil, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.  http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=71366
  2. “REAR ADMIRAL DAVID C. JOHNSON PROGRAM EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR SUBMARINES.” Navy.mil. United States Navy Biography, 15 July 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.  http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=468

Written by: MIDN 4/c Josh Zins

Farewell to LT Minck

MattA great class advisor and a role model for midshipmen, LT Minck will be missed. Leaving for Department head school this September, LT Minck begins his journey back to the fleet as a future Engineering Officer on a nuclear submarine.

As the first class and second class (Senior and Junior) class advisor at MIT, LT Minck worked to help midshipmen succeed in school and NROTC. He prepared prospective nuclear propulsion officers for their nuke interviews in DC. Because LT Minck received his masters in Nuclear Engineering, he could easily relate with MIT midshipmen over the academic rigor of our academic institutions. An example of this happened early one morning during Naval Science class, LT Minck noticed that everyone was struggling to stay awake because of a difficult week of problem sets and exams. LT Minck looked at us and said, “Yeah it has been one of those weeks.” LT Minck knew too well how elusive sleep is as a submariner and a student at MIT.

LT Minck’s constant positive attitude, humble nature, and work ethic embody what we want to strive to be as future officers. LT Minck had everyone’s respect and attention whenever he spoke. There is so much to say, and not enough space to describe his awesomeness. He had a huge impact on influencing my fellow MIT midshipmen in selecting a career in the Nuclear Navy; but more importantly, his example continues to inspire humility and excellence in NROTC.

Farewell and following seas; see you in the fleet.

Written by: MIDN 1/c Joshua Prince

The Life of a Midshipman

In the four years it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, the midshipmen of the Old Ironsides Battalion will also train to become officers and commission into the United States Navy or Marine Corps.  To get from civilian to capable military leader, they undergo a rigorous and comprehensive training regimen, while at the same time being able to have the college experience.

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PT at 0600 on Nickerson Field during INDOC Weekend 2013

A typical week will start off bright and early at 0600 on Monday with PT, or Physical Training.  Some weeks, we are out at the track doing calisthenics and interval training, while other times we are rock climbing or doing swim relays.  Midshipmen will then have Naval Science classes several times during the week.  Freshmen, or 4/c (fourth class), will have Introduction to Naval Science on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for an hour and a half.  Upperclassmen take a variety of courses ranging from Leadership and Ethics to Naval Weapon Systems.

BU Company lab inspection
BU Company lab inspection

On Wednesdays, the entire battalion will wear the UOD (Uniform of the Day) around campus.  At 1500 on Wednesdays, the battalion will assemble for Lab.  Lab can consist of anything from a series of informative briefs on time management, Naval careers, current affairs, etc. to a session of Krav Maga, Israeli martial arts.  Lab is always the most informative, important, and engaging event of the week.

MIDN 1/c Kelley and Greco at the Terrier Cup Regatta
MIDN 1/c Kelley and Greco at the Terrier Cup Regatta

Outside of the classroom, midshipmen are strongly encouraged to participate in NROTC extracurricular activities.  Midshipmen are required to accrue a minimum of 100 activities points per semester, and there exists many ways to earn points.  Volunteering to hand out programs at the Harvard football games and attending Aviation Club or Surface Warfare Club meetings can earn a few points.  More time-intensive activities like joining color guard or participating in all-day events like a regatta or MEC (Military Excellence Competition) can garner even more.  The bottom line is that all midshipmen are able to find something that they enjoy and can excel in, all while contributing to the unit as a whole.

Semper Fi Society FEX
Semper Fi Society FEX

As a 4/c, I have only been a part of the battalion for about two months but already I feel like a part of the Unit.  The time commitment and effort one must put into their Naval ROTC experience is more than I expected, but what a midshipman gets out of it is incredible.  NROTC is an experience that will teach you things, take you places, change who you are for the better, and develop lasting friendships and connections.

Written by: MIDN 4/c Vardaan Gurung

MIT Joint Field Meet: Fighting for a Decade

1378244_394231914012855_1918083577_nIt is 0600, October 9th. The majority of the campus is asleep. The air is crisp. The sky is dark, lit by just a small sliver of a moon. Suddenly, the lights of the MIT football field explode into life. The Joint Service Field Meet has begun.

Amongst the silent campus, the three ROTC battalions are awake. Thoughts are running through the heads of the cadets and midshipmen. For the Army and Air Force, the trophy is an unknown treasure, seen only once a year. They know they must perform today, or else it will be locked back up in the hands of the Navy. But the Navy recognizes the bounty on the trophy, for if they win today, it will be a decade since the trophy did not call the Navy wardroom its home.

There are three events, but all the competitors know the one that will be filled with the most heated debates, the most arduous struggle, and the most legendary fights: ultimate football. The teams split up, and the gladiators of the football teams stay on the field. Among the group, there are members of the football team, and each team possessed their own intimidating size factor.

The first game was Air Force against Navy. Perhaps the Army, who was running the meet, wanted a chance to observe the competition before playing. This was, without a doubt, a strategic schedule for them.

The game was Navy dominance, from start to finish. Between Staff Sergeant Evans, MIDN Forsey, MIDN Bradley, and MIDN Gracia, the game was clinched. But, the team was not a four person job. From the pinpoint throws of MIDN Kindfuller to the key catches of MIDN Shifflet, every member contributed. The game ended 11-0.

The second game was Air Force against Army, and started off with a rule change. The game was now different, and the first few minutes of that game made it clear that Army knew this rule was coming. Their strategy was already planned around the rule, and by that, Army took a victory over Air Force. Perhaps they excluded that rule from the Navy solely to limit their points, as if that made a difference.

1380107_394230640679649_1411664950_nThe third game started, and it was clear that two unstoppable forces were against each other. The game was close from the start. The struggle escalated, with more contact. The Army refs, overlooked the Army actions, but kept a strict look upon the Naval fighting forces. The Navy grimaced and all thought, “They’ll do anything to win, won’t they?”   But sadly, thoughts do not win fights. The Navy pursued, fighting tooth and nail. With just three minutes remaining, one Army player suggested simply holding the ball, since they then possessed the lead. However, the Navy, knowing how close the game was, quickly convicted that player. Another Army player, possessing more sportsmanlike qualities, made clear to their team that this was not how the competition was meant to be run, and made it clear that they would play.

The last few minutes ticked down, until the final whistle was sounded, leaving the Navy down by only one point. The Army had done it. By a mix of rule changes and lopsided refereeing, they managed to beat the global force for good by a mere point. The Navy walked off, proud of their efforts, but they all felt cheated. They knew that the trophy was a close competition. They would need to see the other events scores.

1395890_394232074012839_1465334183_nThe three ROTC battalions converged once more on the football field for the presentation of the trophy. It was too close to call. Each team had taken their own place in the fight for the trophy; the trophy soon would end the streak of the Navy, or continue residing with the midshipmen.

“We have a tie. We need to count total points.” The Cadet OIC declared. The competition had been close, everyone knew that, but no one knew how close.

“By five points,” The battalions held their breath, “The Navy has won the trophy back.”

The Old Ironsides Battalion exploded. Ten years. From the senior who looked upon his or her fourth win to the freshman who now understood the importance of the trophy, everyone was drunk on the feeling of victory.

1395811_394232040679509_1325726835_nWe won by a mere five points. It really left us all with a lesson. Every kick of the soccer ball in gorilla ball, every throw made in dodgeball, every pass thrown in football, everything mattered. The fifth law of the Navy is as such:

On the strength of one link in the cable,
Dependeth the might of the chain.
Who knows when thou may’st be tested?
So live that thou bearest the strain!

But the Navy left that day bearing the strain. The chain had not been broken. The streak had not been broken. But most importantly, the Army Battalion, the Navy Battalion, and the Air Force Wing had joined for a competition that would unite the forces: a Joint-Service Field Meet.

Written by: MIDN 2/c Stephen Johnson

Holy Cross MEC

Holy Cross MEC 042
Midn 3/c Frayne gets motivated during the Warrior Challenge

It was a dark and quiet morning in mid-September at the College of the Holy Cross when two dark green vans parked outside the Field House. From out of those vans came warriors, and as they stepped out onto the pavement, their silhouettes highlighted the night as the sun was just peeking over the horizon. Frosty air crept upon them from the rolling mountains as they moved toward the buildings entrance. No, this was not the scene from the latest Tom Clancy novel, but the precursor to the valiant performance that the midshipmen from the Boston University-MIT NROTC Consortium put on at the annual Holy Cross Military Excellence Challenge (MEC).

Holy Cross MEC 051
MIDN Greco and Hinestrosa demonstrate a pick and roll

The Holy Cross MEC is the one event that the Consortium attends each year that determines which branch of ROTC from which school in the region is the best at, well, being awesome. Competition events that our MIDN competed in included: Swim Relays, Warrior Challenge, Iron Man Challenge, Color Guard, and the basketball tournament.

MIDN Byrne, Knauss, Hummeldorf, Meucci, and Patel celebrate their victory in the pool
MIDN Byrne, Knauss, Hummeldorf, Meucci, and Patel celebrate their victory in the pool

When it came to swimming, there was no challenge for the two teams BU and MIT fielded. Beating teams by no less than a half-length of the pool in every heat, the MIDN stood out tremendously from the rest of the pack. There was no competition that could match the fast-pace strokes of any of our swimmers. At the end of the day, the “Cross Speedo” for the first place team was ours yet again.

MIDN Kelley starts off the Warrior Challenge with a quick ascent on the rope
MIDN Kelley starts off the Warrior Challenge with a quick ascent on the rope

The Warrior Challenge tested the physical and mental stamina of the MIDN that partook in them. Our selected two were MIDN 1/C Kelley and Midn 3/c Frayne. Together, they formed a bond that would take them through an assortment of tasks and strenuous activities. These included: climbing ropes, pull-ups, push-ups, burpees, buddy drags, tire flips, stair climbs, ammo can carries, and a run, amongst other things. Oh, and all of this was done while donning some sort of combat gear. They performed valiantly, and by the time they crossed the finish line, both midshipmen were dirty, sweaty, and looked like they just came out of a combat zone.

This year, the Battalion yielded a team for an event that it had not competed in in recent memory: Color Guard.  Led by MIDN Knauss, a team of four midshipmen executed a routine that made the unit proud. For many of them, this was their first event for a Color Guard that they had ever done.  In the end, they placed third and gave hope for future years to follow in their steps.

Midshipmen Frayne, Knauss, Ross, and King present colors
MIDN Frayne, Knauss, Ross, and King present colors

And finally, the event that everyone waited for: the round-robin basketball tournament, the event that proves the true grit of out future military officers. Due to sheer popularity, there were once again two teams that were able to sign up and compete: the A Team and the Killer Bees. The Killer Bees stung their opponents every game, but unfortunately didn’t manage to tally a win. The A Team came out with their guns blazing and came up with several impressive victories before falling short in the semi-finals. After five straight games with no break, they finally ran out of steam. All in all, both teams put on a show to captivate their onlookers in the final hours of the MEC.

Midshipmen Greco, Meucci, and Grigoriadis get their game faces on
MIDN Greco, Meucci, and Grigoriadis get their game faces on

After a few words from the Commanding Officer of the Holy Cross NROTC Consortium, the MIDN from our battalion headed back home. Their heads were held high, and overall, they achieved third place in the entire competition! It was much to the surprise and delight of everyone there. From that point on, everyone knew that the midshipmen from the Boston NROTC Battalion were coming back next year with a taste of victory. Now, they wanted more.

Written by: MIDN Alexander Hayden