Boston NROTC Celebrates Navy and Marine Corps Birthdays

DSC_2940 2The Boston Naval ROTC Consortium, comprised of Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Tufts University, came together to celebrate the Navy and Marine Corps birthdays on November 15th at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA. The entire event was a success due to the efforts of MIDN 2/c Carolena Ruprecht and the midshipmen that assisted her.

The night began with cocktail hour on the 14th floor with a stunning view overlooking the Charles River and downtown Boston. From there, midshipmen, unit staff members, and guests moved downstairs to the Presidential Ballroom where the ceremony, dinner, and dancing would complete this special evening. The ceremony included the posting of the colors and sword detail, the description of the POW/MIA table, and the cutting of the birthday cake.  “I really enjoyed the ceremony – it was cool seeing the traditional aspect of the Navy birthday, and the whole event was put together very well,” said MIDN 4/c Catherine Senoyuit of Boston College.

DSC_2968 2The guest of honor was Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers, former Commanding Officer of The Basic School and graduate of Boston University. Among the many accolades he has received in his years in the Marine Corps, Desgrosseilliers was awarded the Silver Star in 2006 for his heroic actions in Fallujah, Iraq.

His speech touched on many qualities a great leader should seek to possess but one that he focused on was genuine concern for the men and woman a person leads. Desgrosseilliers also discussed the importance of remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of freedom and justice. He told midshipmen to “stand on the shoulders” of fallen Sailors and Marines and to let their actions be the inspiration to be the best and workDSC_2922 2 hard in every aspect of the job. One Marine that stood out in his mind was Lance Corporal Colin Wolfe, a 19 year old who was killed by a road side bomb in Iraq in 2006. Desgrosseilliers wanted to put a face to the idea of honoring the fallen and said he often thinks Wolfe and his family. Desgrosseilliers concluded his speech with a reading of the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, which brings him comfort and inspiration in times of trouble.

The 2014 Birthday Ball is an event the entire Consortium looks forward to every year. This year’s ball was a fun evening for all who attended and the Consortium was fortunate to have Desgrosseilliers as the guest speaker to share his wisdom with future Navy and Marine Corps officers.

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Written by MIDN 2/c Katrina Longest

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Semper Fi Society Completes FEX II on Peddock’s Island

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As the boat neared the shore, the previously talkative midshipmen grew silent, unconsciously gripping their rifles tighter as they mentally prepared for the night ahead. Once the boat docked, it was time to move—midshipmen grabbed their packs and hurried onto dry land, trying to get their bearings in the unknown environment as they formed two columns and stepped off into the darkness.

The second field exercise of the year for the Semper Fidelis Society took place Nov. 7-8 on Peddock’s Island, located in Boston Harbor about a 30 minute boat ride from the city. Abandoned military facilities are spread across the northern half of the island, as it was used for harbor defense in the early 20th century. This was the first time SFS had used Peddock’s Island for a FEX, so while the new location presented unique challenges it was a refreshing change from Fort Devens.

The night started out with tent setup at the bivouac site. Unlike previous field exercises, the bivouac process was not disrupted by ambushes from the cadre, so it went very smoothly. Next came the biggest physical challenge of the weekend: the nine mile hike. Early on in the hike, the cadre ambushed the society and Platoon Sergeant Frayne became a “casualty”; however, 1st Squad Leader Hamilton took charge and handled the situation. Due to the small size of the island, the hike route looped around the same path several times, causing the whole experience to start to feel like a particularly intense episode of déjà vu after the fifth time hiking up the same hill. The varied terrain included hills, sand, and broken ground, presenting obstacles for the midshipmen burdened by 50-65 lb packs—several people were forced 10806251_832933546770009_3608459940969865249_nto drop out, testimony to the difficulty of the hike. However, after being taken care of by the corpsman, they rejoined the group and everyone finished the hike together.

Following the hike, the midshipmen spent two hours working on their night land navigation skills, using a compass to navigate to different points in the woods. Finally, around 0150 they returned to the bivouac site for a much needed few hours of sleep outside under the stars. Tent pairs took turns standing watch, rotating until reveille at 0530. In the chilly predawn darkness, the midshipmen quickly packed up the tents and gear and moved it to the dock, then practiced close-order drill as the sun rose.

Then came the final training evolution of the weekend: squad in the offensive, or SITO. This was specifically aimed at the bulldogs, who each assumed the role of squad leader for two missions and were evaluated on their performance. Missions varied from basic assaults on an objective to security patrols to casualty evacuations. The cadre made sure to keep things interesting by ambushing the squad periodically, including an attack from a moving vehicle. Quick reactions and decisions were key as bulldogs faced the challenge of managing the entire squad. The 3/c also had the opportunity to step up during SITO, acting as fire team leaders for several missions and getting practice in briefing five paragraph orders.

After four hours of SITO, the midshipmen were pleased to find that the final mission took them to a barbecue prepared by the staff, which was a significant improvement over MREs. The society then conducted a hot wash to discuss the FEX and lessons learned, and finally boarded the boat to return to Boston. On the boat ride home, the midshipmen who didn’t immediately fall asleep were treated to a demonstration by the corpsman on how to apply a tourniquet. Finally, they returned to Ashford Supply to clean rifles and return gear. Tired and sore, but feeling accomplished, the members of SFS departed for home, confident that the weekend had been a success in terms of gaining both valuable training and new Facebook profile pictures.10517487_832932843436746_904680712345975196_n

Written by Midn 2/c Pushaw

Veteran’s Day Ceremony at Tufts University

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, the Tufts University ROTC units came together on the Medford/Somerville campus to pay tribute to all service members past and present. The traditional passing of the flag ceremony was held on Memorial Steps lead by 1/c Midshipman Vadim Reyblat. Cadets and midshipmen alike proceeded gradually up the steps passing a folded American flag to one another to the flag recipient, retired United States Air Force Major Greg Arabian who graduated from Tufts University in 1954. The ceremony included a performance from the oldest all female Tufts University a cappella group, the Jackson Jills, who did a wonderful rendition of “America the Beautiful”.ROTCadvocatesEvents 260

Service members that came to view the event include Commander Jan Scislowicz, Executive Officer of Boston NROTC, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Godfrin, head of Boston AROTC, and retired Army Major Gresh Lattimore who is the Chair of Advocates for Tufts ROTC. After the ceremony there was reception in the Coolidge room of Ballou Hall. The reception included speeches by Dean James M. Glaser who is a strong advocate for ROTC at Tufts University. The main speaker was retired United States Marine Corps Captain Ben Sands who graduated from Tufts University in 1954. His inspiring speech went through the highlights of his time in the military and the brave service men and women who he met along the way.

MIDN 4/c Keith Henzer said after the ceremony, “To be able to participate in this occasion really makes me appreciate the sacrifices American service members made for my freedom.” Army Cadet Gaby Luiselli said, “When I walked up the steps today, it was truly humbling and inspiring. I am honored to be here and a member of Army ROTC at Tufts University.”  The ceremony succeeded in paying tribute to all of our veterans.

Written by MIDN 2/c Oscar Martin

Boston College Holds Veterans Day Ceremony

On November 11th, 2014 Boston College held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on a lawn next to Burns Library. The space is surrounded by a wall inscribed with the names of BC graduates who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. Midshipmen and cadets in the Boston College ROTC programs organized and participated in this ceremony which took place after the Veterans Day mass at St. Ignatius Church.

The majority of the guests in attendance were BC veterans who return each year to commemorate this special day of reflection. This year, the guest speaker for the event was Lawrence Rawson, a 1963 BC graduate and track and field star, served in the Marine Corps for three years as an intelligence officer and an artillery forward observer. Rawson’s love of history was apparent in his speech, which put each war into perspective for the audience. He reminded guests of the circumstances in which men had fought in during the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, and discussed his view on the current conflict in the Middle East. Rawson commented on how amazing it was that the entire country, men and women, come together in times of war. His speech was a reminder of the courage, dedication, and sacrifice made by veterans and those who are currently serving.

After the speech was over, cadets took turns reading off the names of the BC graduates who had given their lives in World War I, World War II, South Korea, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. The ceremony concluded with the entire audience singing “God Bless America,” and the playing of taps to honor the fallen. “We are proud as midshipmen to stand and remember the alumni who gave their lives for us, and value the service of the veterans in attendance,” said MIDN 2/c Sean Spata. “There is no greater honor than to let these men know how thankful we are, and how much they inspire us for the future.”

Written by MIDN 2/c Katrina Longest

Boston University Honors Veterans

DSC_0018At 0600 sharp, Boston University midshipmen and cadets from all three ROTC branches began marching in the plaza located in front of Marsh Chapel to commemorate the many brave men and women who served our nation.  Located on the very busy Commonwealth Avenue, passersby stopped to take a moment to observe the midshipmen and cadets and pay their respects to all those who served in the past and present.  Pedestrians stopped to ask questions and speak with the midshipmen and cadets standing by the vigil.  The students of ROTC continued to march all day until the closing ceremony inside Chapel in the early afternoon.

Headed by MIDN 1/c Joshua Dalva, the Naval ROTC Battalion at Boston University put on a successful event that culminated with the closing ceremony.  Boston University’s Chaplain for International Students, Reverend Brittany Longsdorf, delivered the invocation, praying for all American veterans and their families as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action followed by the playing of taps.  Dr. Douglas Sears, Director of Military Education, then welcomed guest speaker Tim McLaughlin to share his thoughts on what being a veteran means to him. DSC_0047

McLaughlin began by giving his background as a Marine Corps Officer and shared his experience of working in the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11.  He offered his advice to those in attendance mentioning the importance of being prepared to lead when your people need you the most just as a young Marine needed him on that day.  Another point he made during his remarks was how to transition from being a military member to a civilian.  McLaughlin advised to make connections while in the service that can help you succeed and make a smooth change back into a civilian lifestyle.  Lastly, he talked about his time as a tank commander in Iraq and the struggles he experienced while deployed overseas.

The midshipmen, cadets, staff, and students all enjoyed hearing from Tim McLaughlin.  In particular, MIDN 2/c Evan Sternstein says, “as a future naval officer it means a lot to participate in such a meaningful tradition. I also enjoyed hearing from such an accomplished veteran as Mr. McLaughlin.”  Marching during the day also gave the midshipmen and cadets a chance to reflect and think about all those that came before them and the ones they will serve with in the future.  BU NROTC hosted a great event and will continue to improve it every year coming.

Written by MIDN 2/c Robert Conkey

MIT Honors Veteran Alumni

On Friday, November 7th, the three MIT ROTC units came together to honor the veterans and pay homage to the MIT alumni who served in foreign wars. At 1300, the MIT Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC units took time to come together for a public ceremony in which the names of MIT graduates who fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were read.

The ceremony took place in Memorial Lobby, a center for activity on MIT’s campus, allowing passers-by to witness the event. The Army, Navy, and Air Force battalions were formed up in front of a podium, from which cadets and midshipmen read the names of the MIT veterans. Members of the community who wished to observe the ceremony were asked to watch from the overhead balcony or the outside area, and many stood silently in reflection as the ceremony took place.

As MIDN 4/c Albino, MIT, said, “Although I have walked through the lobby numerous times, it was not until Friday that I recognized the great honor, but also melancholy, of what Memorial Lobby symbolizes.” MIDN Albino also said that “hearing the names of all of the students that have been in our shoes and made the same commitment and sacrifices was truly humbling and inspiring.” It was a time for reflection and gratitude for all in attendance.

Written by MIDN 3/c Sean Lowder

MIT Pass in Review Ceremony

IMGP6081On the afternoon of Saturday, October 25th, The MIT ROTC units held their annual Pass in Review ceremony, a long-standing military tradition in which a reviewing officer inspects and issues orders to troops. While the Pass in Review has become more of a ceremonial event over time, it still holds significance as an honored military tradition. The MIT ROTC commitment to tradition was apparent as cadet and midshipmen skillfully executed drill commands after weeks of planning and rehearsals.IMGP6059

Taking place during family weekend at MIT, the ceremony had a high turnout of veterans, guests of honor, families, and friends. The parade consisted of a joint battalion staff, a joint color guard, and a company from each service branch represented at MIT. The Navy “Old Ironsides” Battalion was commanded by Midshipman Joanna Chen from MIT. Cadet Molly McFadden commanded the Army “Paul Revere” Battalion, and Cadet Martin York commanded the Air Force “Doolittle’s Raiders” Detachment.

The MIT ROTC Units were honored to have Vice Admiral Sean Pybus, Deputy Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, as the guest speaker for this event. VADM Pybus graduated from University of Rochester in 1979 and earned a Navy commission through NROTC. He continued on to have a career in Navy Special Warfare, participating in special operations in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In his speech, VADM Pybus encouraged midshipmen and cadets to branch out and expand their horizons because as military leaders, they will require a broad range of skills and knowledge. He said that no matter what community the students entered upon commissioning, they must always strive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and be the best leader they can be. Commitment and effort are paramount, he emphasized, in these days of tight budgets and reduced force numbers. Finally VADM Pybus stressed that “as a leader you will fail, and you will fall. What is important is what happens when you get back up.”IMGP6076

All who witnessed the Pass in Review ceremony could feel the sense of pride and confidence from the cadets and midshipmen as they marched past and saluted the Vice Admiral and the guests of honor. The Pass in Review was an opportunity for veterans, active duty, and future military members to come together in their shared commitment to excellence and to serving a cause greater than themselves.

Written by MIDN 3/c John Holland