Semper Fidelis Society – A Year in Review

904391_617411094988923_1660696258_oThe 2013-2014 school year has been highly productive for the Boston NROTC Semper Fidelis Society. The year has been extremely busy with many events, including both battalion-wide events and those specific to SFS.  Despite weather implications, physical challenges, and leadership tests, the Semper Fidelis Society was able to make it through to the end of the year with significant gain in knowledge, experience, and unit cohesion.

The goal of the Semper Fidelis Society is to develop Marine Option midshipmen with the skills necessary to graduate from OCS and become future Marine Corps officers. Nonetheless, SFS is not limited to Marine Options. Navy midshipmen are also encouraged to join SFS to experience life as a Marine Option, challenge themselves physically, and develop respect and support for their sister service. There were many new faces at SFS this year, as several Navy Options decided to take a stab at SFS for a semester or two.1901220_701365679926797_4314223756674188816_n

Not surprisingly, SFS devotes a lot of focus to physical fitness, and the midshipmen train physically each week. PT is four times a week, with group PT on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 0600. This year, midshipmen had the opportunity to climb ropes, swim, participate in SFS Olympics, and run up the enormous Summit Hill in “boots and utes”. SFS also conducted three field exercises.

However, SFS is not just a fitness club. Members of SFS were also led in classroom instruction each week. Topics of education included Marine Corps knowledge such as land navigation and five paragraph order, as well as aspects of leadership through books on the Commandant’s Reading List and in class leadership panels. SFS also participated in many events such as the Navy Marine Corps Birthday Ball, the Joint Services Ball, and the Marine Corps Birthday Relay Run.

10014904_701358799927485_536447388545364891_n SFS members were also active in battalion-wide events. Many members participated in both the Curtis Cup and the Sheehan Cup. Midn 3/c Hamilton and Midn 4/c King did an outstanding job during the Sheehan Cup Warrior Challenge.  SFS also had the opportunity to participate in the BU Company drill competition where they proudly took 1st place.10255726_701366739926691_3704689838967812584_n

SFS is ending this year on May 2 with the annual Mess Night Dinner. This evening of dining and camaraderie is a tradition in the Marine Corps.  At the end of the night, SFS will bid farewell to the departing seniors.  This year they will also be saying goodbye to Marine Officer Instructor Major Craig Giorgis and Assistant Marine Officer Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Romer, both of whom will be leaving the Boston NROTC Battalion this summer. Everyone will be thoroughly missed.  As for current Bulldogs, they will be sent off to OCS this summer. Good luck to everyone and thank you for a wonderful year!


Written by: Midn 3/c Clarissa Schaffino


SFS Field Exercise

SFS FEX 2On Friday, April 4th, the Boston NROTC Semper Fidelis Society (SFS) headed to Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts for their semester field exercise, or FEX. Students from both the BU and MIT units worked together to make this FEX a successful training experience. The purpose of conducting FEX’s is to effectively train the Bulldogs (2/c Marine Options) for OCS by helping them develop the necessary technical, tactical, and leadership skills.

A typical FEX consists of sleeping outside in tents, night navigation, land navigation, a 9-12 mile hike, FITO/SITO, and eating delicious MRE’s and Sour Patch Kids. The weekend also included an IED class, as well as terrain model building. The IED class was new, and it allowed the midshipmen to put into perspective the dangers they may face in combat.

Each FEX evolution is designed to challenge SFS members and test their leadership ability. Midn 2/c Kim was in charge of leading this year’s SuperFEX. He did an outstanding job of keeping his platoon accounted for, as well as executing each evolution in a timely fashion. Midn Kim was able to keep everyone motivated and moving, especially during the 9-mile hike.

SFS FEX 3During SITO, which stands for “squad team in the offense”, the platoon was split into two groups of opposing squads led by OC Johnson and OC Mariscal. Each squad had their own assembly area where they set up a perimeter of security and dug fighting holes to sleep in. Temperatures fell well below freezing during Saturday evening. Despite this, SFS members were able to stay positive and trek through the frigid night.

Throughout the night, the cadre assigned missions to each squad. This allowed for Bulldogs and 3/c to practice their FITO tactics, night navigation and 5-paragraph order.  At this point, everyone felt extremely sleep deprived and it became important for squad leaders to maintain control and focus. Despite the cold and lack of sleep, everyone was able to keep up the intensity and finish the next few hours of the FEX strong.

Early Sunday afternoon, CAPT Benke came to the rescue with Dunkin Donuts coffee, hot chocolate, and bagels. A hot wash was then conducted where cadre and SFS members discussed the FEX and any problems that had come up. Overall, the weekend was extremely strenuous, and tested the members of SFS with mental and physical challenges. Nonetheless, all agreed that it was a productive FEX, and many members of SFS were able to learn more about themselves and about working together as a team.

Written by: Midn 3/c Clarissa Schaffino

Future Female Officer Club Spotlight

The Future Female Officer club has had an exciting semester so far. In February, Captain Frizzell, who is stationed at the Naval War College in Newport returned to visit, bringing along two female lieutenant commanders.  One of the LCDRs was a former SWO, and is now a PAO, and the other was prior enlisted and is now a SWO.  They had a lot of valuable knowledge to share with the members of the club.

FFO2The discussion began with questions on what to bring on deployment and summer cruise, with CAPT Frizzell and the LCDRs giving advice for items to bring that you would not think of unless you had been on a ship for an extended period of time before. The conversation moved to some of their personal stories of being in the Navy, including in particular being females in an all-male environment.  Their advice and guidance on how to deal with these situations were invaluable.  In all, the meeting was a large success, and all of the females in attendance were truly grateful for the experience.  Club meetings like these give its members a clear and honest scope into some of the issues they will be facing in the fleet, whether that is a few years or a few months from now.

The Future Female Officer Club hopes to hold two more meetings this semester. CAPT Frizzell is planning to bring a female aviator to visit in the coming weeks, which will be a valuable perspective to hear from.  For the final meeting of the semester, the club is hoping to hold a potluck for all that are interested.  The Future Female Officer Club would like to congratulate all that will be commissioning this May and June, and wishes them the best of luck and success in their careers as Naval Officers!

Written by: MIDN 3/c Abigail Guerra

USS Zumwalt Christening Ceremony

IMG_1043Midshipmen from the BU-MIT Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) unit travelled to the Bath Iron Works shipyard for the christening of USS Zumwalt, the lead ship in a brand new class of destroyers. The ship, named after Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, represents a technological leap forward for the US Navy’s surface fleet. With an emphasis on stealth technology, lessened crew requirements, and advanced weaponry, the innovation of this cutting edge vessel bears tribute to its namesake.

Admiral Zumwalt, the youngest CNO in Navy history (49), became legendary for his forward-thinking policies towards sailor’s rights, particularly female sailors and sailors of color. Amongst many other policy changes, his changes gave females the right to become naval aviators and Filipinos the right to work in rates other than just the steward’s rate.

Admiral Zumwalt’s son, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt (USMC Ret.) commented to the new commanding officer of USS Zumwalt, “Captain James Kirk, you have a lot of my dad in you.”

IMG_0995He charged the new CO to command with strength and to mold the soul of the new ship, as he was responsible for the development of the life and character of the ship. His charge to the captain set the tone for the afternoon, as speakers applauded the incredible work of Admiral Zumwalt, and encouraged the new crew of DDG-1000 to bring that same zeal and passion to their new ship.

The ceremony started off with general introductions from the President of Bath Iron Works and the governor of Maine. Following the governor, an impressive set of lead speakers gave their own remarks, including the Honorable Susan Collins and Angus King, Maine’s two senators; Admiral Mark Ferguson, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; and various members of the Zumwalt family. The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, was the principal speaker.

After the speakers, Ann and Zouzetta Zumwalt, daughters of Admiral Zumwalt, accompanied Captain James Kirk to the bow of the ship, where they broke champagne bottles across the bow and officially christened the ship. The spilled champagne, a volley of streamers, and a large round of applause officially brought the USS Zumwalt to life.

IMG_0996Following the ceremony, the midshipmen had a chance to walk along the pier, examining the new ship in closer detail and mingle with the officers present. There were light refreshments served and opportunities to see parts of DDG-1001, still under construction in the shipyard. The USS Michal Monsour (DDG-1001) will be the second ship in the Zumwalt class. Its unassembled hull sections provided an unadulterated look into the construction of these modern warships and gave a unique perspective to the construction process.

Midshipman Vadim Reytblat in particular enjoyed seeing DDG-1001 under construction. “Seeing the exposed cross-sections of DDG-1001 was truly awesome, particularly as a mechanical engineering student who’s studied construction and design.”

USS Zumwalt has a long way to go before it is fully turned over to the US Navy for sea trials and commissioning, but the christening was a landmark event in the progression of this project, and the midshipmen of the BU-MIT NROTC Consortium were extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to share in the celebration.

Midshipman 2nd Class Andrew Bates enjoyed the ceremony, saying, “The Zumwalt christening was a remarkable experience. We were in the presence of our country’s leaders, both civilian and military, next to the world’s most technologically advanced surface vessel. This was certainly not your average Saturday morning for a college student!”

Written by: MIDN 2/c David Forsey

Vice CNO Admiral Mark Ferguson Visits MIT

480px-ADM_Mark_E._Ferguson_III_VCNOMidshipmen from the BU – MIT NROTC Battalion joined with other members of the Boston Naval community to welcome Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mark Ferguson to MIT on April 11th.  Officers, ranging from newly commissioned ensigns to seasoned captains, gathered with the midshipmen in a display of the Navy presence in Boston.

Admiral Ferguson began his talk with a recap of the current state of the U.S. Navy, highlighting the vital role the Navy plays in this world where sea power is essential for global security and protection.  He gave some figures to really drive home how important sea power is, saying, “The earth is seventy percent water. Eighty percent of people live next to the water, ninety percent of trade comes from the sea lanes; and ninety-five percent of information travels through underwater communication lines.”

Ferguson went on to say how the men and women currently serving in the U.S. Navy are some of the best the country has seen.   With some of the highest test scores, and lowest DUI and court-martial rates ever seen in the Naval fleet, the current U.S. sailors are some of the most intelligent and best-trained people the U.S. has to offer.

DSC_1136 The admiral explained the present and future conflict that these sailors will face in their time in the Navy.  Comparing current world affairs with the inter-war period of 1919-1938, Ferguson said that the while the U.S. faces no direct world threat, the nation has become involved in conflicts around the world that call for different approaches.  With an adaptable fleet of officers and enlisted personnel, and new technologies in weaponry, ships, and intelligence, the U.S. Navy is preparing itself for any situation that may arise in the future.

Discussing his recent meeting with Chinese military leaders, and U.S. – China political relations, Ferguson seemed optimistic in the relationship between the two Navies.  Midshipman 3rd Class Anne Nonnamaker really enjoyed hearing about the Vice CNO’s opinion on China.  “It provided great insight into future conflicts we may find ourselves in when we become officers,” says Nonnamaker.

DSC_1144 Admiral Ferguson concluded his talk by taking questions from the group of officers and midshipmen in the room. The discussion ranged from possible future conflicts to the ways that officers and enlisted personnel can effectively work together in such a dynamic global atmosphere.  Ferguson encouraged the midshipmen and officers to prepare, and constantly seek to better themselves in the Fleet, as the current state of global politics calls for personnel who are technically and tactfully efficient in all areas.

The midshipmen of the Boston NROTC were honored to have Admiral Ferguson visit and learn from his words of wisdom and encouragement. Midshipman 1st Class Michael Simpson particularly valued hearing from such an important member of the Navy, saying, “The Vice CNO’s visit was an amazing opportunity to hear about strategic planning and future naval operations directly from the top.  As midshipmen, we are rarely briefed on policy-level decisions and this brief helped close that gap.”

Written by: MIDN 3/c Conner Love


Navy Captain and Astronaut Visits MIT

IMG_6908Boston University – Massachusetts Institute of Technology  NROTC midshipmen welcomed back one of their unit alumni, Navy Captain and NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefnyshyn-Piper on April 9.

The captain visited her alma mater, MIT, to discuss her unique Navy career with the Boston Battalion. The 1984 MIT graduate shared her Navy and NASA experiences with midshipmen from Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Harvard College, and MIT during their weekly leadership lab.

Stefnyshyn-Piper briefed the midshipmen on her somewhat unusual career path, and “life after MIT,” as she put it, highlighting her time as an engineering officer, and 13 years as an astronaut. Even though not an aviator, the engineer and Navy diver said she had no reservations applying for the space program. “If I can change a propeller under water, why can’t I put on another suit and build a space station?”

DSC_4904Stefnyshyn-Piper told the unit about her challenges at Navy Dive School and about how she came to her decision to apply to be an astronaut. She showed video clips and pictures from her time in space. The captain also reflected back on her days as a midshipman at MIT, and said originally she had wanted to become a pilot, but when that didn’t work out, she stayed positive and kept constantly looking for opportunities. When she heard about applying for the space program, Stefnyshyn-Piper jumped at the chance to become an astronaut.

“I enjoyed hearing about a different route to becoming an astronaut than the typical aviation background we normally see,” said Midshipman 1st Class Victoria McCrave, who appreciated Stefnyshyn-Piper’s determination and drive as a MIT midshipman.

A veteran of the STS-115 mission in 2006 and STS-126 mission in 2008, Stefnyshyn-Piper has spent more than 27 days in space, and logged over 33 hours space walking. On her second mission, she was the lead spacewalker on a team that restored full power generation capability to the International Space Station.

The midshipmen were very interested in hearing more about life in space.  When asked the inevitable question about the food up there, Stefnyshyn-Piper told the midshipmen, “No, we don’t actually eat astronaut ice cream in space. It’s too crumbly!”

Stefnyshyn-Piper also answered questions and gave advice to the midshipmen, discussing the role of the private sector verses the government in the future of space exploration, and recounting lessons learned from her time in NROTC.  She said it all comes down to being a well-rounded individual and learning how to think critically, regardless of the area of study in college.

Midshipman 3rd Class Stephen Holcomb enjoyed the Captain’s talk, saying, “Captain Stefnyshyn-Piper provided us with a great look at life in the Navy after graduation from MIT NROTC. Overall, she gave a clear idea about her unique career, and some of the exciting opportunities that are available to us.”

Written by: MIDN 2/c Bridget McCoy

Beaver Cup Regatta

Copy of IMG_0542Midshipmen and staff from the Holy Cross, RPI, and BU-MIT NROTC Battalions joined together on Saturday, April 5th for the annual Beaver Cup Regatta. The weather was perfect for sailing — windy but not too cold — and everyone milled around on the dock of the MIT Sailing Pavilion excitedly as they waited for the events to begin. Events of the day commenced with an overview of the race rules given by the staff of the MIT Sailing Pavilion.

Copy of IMG_0632There were to be two heats of eight boats, with each heat doing two races. The final race would be a single sailor representing each NROTC Battalion. The amount of sailing experience among the midshipmen varied considerably, and it was great to see the less experienced sailors learning from their peers. When they were not out on the water, the midshipmen and active duty staff mingled and enjoyed delicious burgers and other food.

Copy of IMG_0457When all the racing had concluded, awards were announced for the top two teams and the overall NROTC Battalion winner. The winning two man teams from BU-MIT were MIDN 1/c Mike McCormick and Mic Byrne and MIDN 2/c Stephen Johnson and MIDN 4/c Vardaan Gurung. The overall school winner was a close call, and came down to the score from the final, solo race. Fortunately, MIDN 4/c John Holland from Harvard represented the Boston NROTC Battalion well by winning both runs in an impressive finale. There was much cheering and excitement from the midshipmen of the MIT-BU Battalion as MIDN Holland returned to the dock with a huge grin on his face.

All in all, the 2014 Beaver Cup Regatta was a great time of camaraderie and fun, and will be eagerly anticipated next year!
Written by: MIDN 2/c Bridget McCoy