2nd Annual Brian R. Bill Memorial Challenge

Brian Bill Memorial ChallangeOn 22 February, 2014, The Golden Anchor Society and Norwich University’s Naval ROTC Unit held the 2nd Annual Brian R. Bill Memorial Challenge. Brian R. Bill was a midshipman in the Norwich Naval ROTC Unit and a distinguished graduate of the university. Upon graduation, Brian enlisted in the Navy with the resolute intention of joining the ranks of the special warfare community as a Navy SEAL – a title many seek and few ever achieve. In 2003, he received his designation as a Navy SEAL, and what followed was a distinguished career befitting of the title he had earned. He achieved the rank of chief petty officer, and for his accomplishments as a SEAL, he was awarded four Bronze Stars with Valor, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, and three Good Conduct Medals. Brian was loved by all, respected by his peers and fellow SEALs, and idealized by every midshipman and cadet who attended Norwich University.

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On 06 August 2011, Chief Petty Officer Brian Bill was tragically killed, while assigned to the Special Operations Development Group (DEVGRU), deployed to the Wardak province, west of Kabul, in Afghanistan. Tasked as a member of a quick reaction force attempting to reinforce an engaged unit of Army Rangers, the U.S. Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying Brian and 37 others was shot down by Taliban forces. Brian was a man imbued with uncommon valor, unyielding courage, and a deep devotion to the service of his community and nation. The loss of a young man of such stature and rapport hit hard for his family and the Norwich University community. His sacrifice was known by many, and inspired all who have come to believe in the values he had so fiercely sought to protect.

IMG_0032The love surrounding Brian’s life was evident Saturday morning prior to the start of the Memorial Challenge, as Brian’s father spoke of his son’s accomplishments. He called all present to continue the life of service his son had led and to embrace the warrior sprit his son had adopted, and which this challenge was designed to embody.

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The Boston Naval ROTC Battalion sent three teams to represent the Consortium at the Memorial Challenge. Each team gave a valiant effort to overcome the twenty-three obstacles encompassed in the grueling eight-kilometer challenge. The Boston Consortium midshipmen who participated were MIDN 1/C CJ Curtis and Christopher Greco; MIDN 2/C Vadim Reytblat and Erik Klatt; MIDN 3/C Luis Cruz; MIDN 4/C Matthew De La Ossa, Brendan Koch, Beryl Fischer, Zach Scholz, Patrick Lavin, and Josh Zins; and Midn 4/C Tyler King. All performed admirably at the event. The true test of the challenge occurred as midshipmen and cadets traversed a towering mountain, nicknamed by Norwich midshipmen and cadets as, “Mount Pain”. The name was truly well deserved as each Boston NROTC midshipmen felt the pain of marching up the ice and snow covered mountainside. Throughout the event, racers could be heard shouting words of encouragement to opposing teams. While a feeling of fierce competition was evident, the sense of camaraderie was even more present — both characteristics befitting of Brian’s memory.

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All proceeds of the Challenge were donated to the Brian Bill Memorial Fund. The fund was started in order to help perspective Navy SEALs and the families of current special warfare operators to attend college to further their education and service in the armed forces. For all midshipmen considering this evolution in the future: it is a must! Nowhere else will you be able to push your physical and mental capabilities to limit, while honoring the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us. I would like to congratulate Norwich University on a job well done, and thank the Bill family for allowing us to honor the memory and heroic sacrifice of their son. Hooyah, Chief Petty Officer Bill and Hooyah, Navy!

Written by: MIDN 1/c Christopher P. Greco

Tour of Sikorsky Aircraft Facility

20140217_111052 It is a rare opportunity to see the aircraft you could be flying in the future half assembled on a production line. However, this opportunity became a reality as the midshipmen of the Boston University – MIT Naval ROTC Consortium toured Sikorsky’s facilities earlier this week.  Nestled in the hills of Stratford, Connecticut, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation assembles and tests a large majority of the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk and HH-60M Medevac helicopters as well as the U.S. Navy’s SH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

The visiting midshipmen, accompanied by two lieutenants from the Naval aviation community and a unit staff employee, were graciously led on a 2-hour long extended tour throughout the factory.  The tour was led by gentlemen from the archives department, retired engineers who had worked for Sikorsky for 40+ years and were now responsible for keeping the company’s history alive and strong.

The tour began with a comprehensive review of Sikorsky’s company history, all the way back to its founding in 1925 by Russian American flight fanatic, Igor Sikorsky.  The archives room contained a plethora of old photographs and aircraft models as well as various memorabilia from Igor Sikorksy’s private life.  The group then moved onto the factory floor where actual part production and helicopter assembly takes place. Midshipmen watched as highly trained Sikorsky employees perfected everything from shaft bearings to rotor couplings.  The eager midshipmen were then led onto the assembly line to see just how complex the assembly of a single aircraft can be. A single aircraft, which arrives on the line as a metal frame from a separate nearby facility takes approximately 36 days to construct. Once finally assembled, an aircraft will go through leak testing in a rainstorm simulation and undergo basic flight-testing by onsite Sikorsky pilots.

MIDN 1/C Nate Byam-Mooney, a senior Navy option, who was selected to attend flight school after he graduates, commented on his favorite part of the tour. “I found the construction of the rotor blades particularly interesting,” he says. “They are formed from round metal tubes and the amount of work that goes into a single blade is impressive. They’re so complex that they still haven’t discovered how to make two perfectly identical blades. It’s crazy.”

The tour culminated at Igor Sikorsky’s office, which contained the original couch, desk, and decorations.  Numerous photographs and gifts adorned the walls, including photographs of Orville Wright with Igor Sikorsky and an R4 helicopter, and one of Neil Armstrong chatting with Igor.

20140217_103826MIDN 1/C Tyler Mehrman, a senior Navy option who was selected to attend flight school after he graduates, comments: “Seeing his office, you can tell he had a devout passion for aviation and was a true engineer at heart. Sikorsky has preserved his office well, making me feel like I stepped back in time when looking around.”

The most iconic piece of memorabilia in the office was Igor Sikorsky’s fedora.  Even though Sikorsky flew for over 30 years during the most dangerous periods of aviation, he never was injured in a crash and he never wore a crash helmet.  Instead, Sikorsky always wore a stylish fedora and over time, it became customary for pilots to try it on in order to gain good luck.

The overwhelming reaction experienced by those trying on this lucky charm: “Wow, his head was tiny!”

Written by: MIDN 2/c Andrew Bates

Boston University Joint Service Ball

DSC_4067The Boston University Joint Service Ball commenced on Saturday, February 8th, bringing together midshipmen and cadets from BU’s Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC units. Special Guests included the Dean of Students of the School of Management, School of Hospitality and Wellness, and College of Fine Arts. CAPT Steven Benke, LTC Jennifer Bower, and LTC Jeffrey Cook, the Professors and Commanding Officers of the ROTC units, were also in attendance.

The night of festivities began at 1800 in the Metcalf Ballroom in the Boston University George Sherman Union. Midshipman, cadets, officers, and enlisted personnel chatted and socialized as a cocktail hour started the night. The evening proceeded as guests began to enter into the ballroom. The senior class of the ROTC units formed the receiving line to greet the attending officers and special guests. As all guests took their seats, Master of Ceremonies Air Force Cadet Elizondo, formally began the ceremony.

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Midshipmen of the Class of 2014

Midshipman 3/C Rebecca Rogers introduced members of the senior class and the respective service communities they would be joining upon commissioning. Their fellow midshipmen showed pride in their soon-to-be commissioned classmates with each announcement, as cheers and applause filled the ballroom. With senior midshipmen representing communities ranging from Navy Special Warfare to Naval Reactor Engineers, the class of 2014 represented the diversity and success that the NROTC program inspires.

The festivities continued throughout the night with dinner and dancing. A special ceremony was also held for the POW’s and MIA’s who were not able to celebrate this wonderful occasion with their military brothers. All in all, the Boston University Joint Service Ball was an extraordinary occasion that will be remembered by all present.

Written by: MIDN 3/c Conner Love