Former Navy Chaplain Speaks with Midshipmen

Written by MIDN 4/C Nguyen-Phuoc

Photo from “The Boston College Chronicle”, taken by Gary Gilbert

“What do you know about chaplains and what do you want to know?” asked Father Robert L. Keane. Responses from the midshipmen ranged from “conducting religious services” to an understanding of “a certain level of confidentiality”, points that were further elaborated upon during his guest lecture on 30 March 2016. Father Keane, a Roman Catholic priest with a diverse academic background ranging from philosophy to French language and literature, shared his experiences with the BU Midshipmen on his role in the fleet, on shore, and how he came to join the Navy.

Father Keane’s Naval career began when serving as the chaplain to the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. At the persuasion of the Holy Cross NROTC unit’s Commanding Officer, Father Keane ventured down the pipeline towards becoming a Catholic Chaplain for the Navy, beginning with basic chaplain training in Newport, Rhode Island. It was here that he learned everything on the “right collar”, referring to his rank insignia. As naval officers, chaplains are held to the same high standards as other naval officers in regards to knowledge and physical fitness standards. He commissioned in May 1989 as a Lieutenant due to his years of ministry experience prior.

Besides learning about his route towards becoming a Naval Chaplain and his stories during his years working with the “green side” and the “blue side” (referring to the Marine Corps and the Navy), the most significant lesson embedded in the midshipmen was that chaplains are a resource that should be utilized, regardless of personal beliefs or religious affiliations. Father Keane emphasized that during his time underway, he would partake in “productive loitering” or walking around and talking to members of the crew. By establishing a relaxed relationship through this method, rather than sitting with an open door in his office, he created an environment in which sailors and marines could feel comfortable talking to him about their problems in full confidentiality. To further communicate his approachability, at times he would fold over his insignia rank, showing instead only his “left collar”, the cross insignia, and tried to find a balance between the two sides of his uniform. Although he is a Catholic chaplain, Father Keane not only provided the spiritual needs for Catholics, but also accommodated the religious and spiritual needs for sailors and marines of other faiths, such as recommending religious headgear to be worn on behalf of a sailor in certain cases or contacting other chaplains to visit and conduct religious ceremonies for sailors and marines.

When asked about how to deal with morality and faith versus the nature of the military’s work, Father Keane acknowledged the dissonance and responded with the solutions of communication and simply talking to someone. Chaplains will not only provide religious support, but also moral support through confidential counseling and discussion. Father Keane reiterated that chaplains are a resource that should be utilized for a range of issues that may arise. Junior officers need to be aware of all resources available to them, as well as available for their sailors and marines, in order to help the climate of their command and the members of the command.

Midshipmen Tour the USS McFaul

Written by MIDN 4/C Grant Swartz

Photo by MIDN 4/C Savannah Clarke

The day began early on March 19, 2016 as Midshipmen from the Boston NROTC Battalion departed from the BU wardroom to visit the USS McFaul (DDG 74), which was in Boston for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. For many midshipmen, this was their first time being on a naval ship, and for some, their first time ever seeing one up close. Midshipmen were accompanied by unit staff CDR Masterson, LT Tribou, and LT Mondloch.

Midshipmen arrived at the USS McFaul early and were able to begin their tour earlier than the general public. 4/C midshipmen were able to put their newly learned ship-boarding procedures into practice as they climbed the gangway and proceeded onto the destroyer. Once aboard, midshipmen were taken to the officer’s wardroom aboard the ship for an introduction by the operations officer of the McFaul, as well as a welcome from the commanding officer, CDR Michael Gunther. The midshipmen were escorted around the ship by two junior officers who were commissioned through the NROTC program. Throughout the tour, the guides not only provided information about the ship, but also provided valuable insights about life in the Navy, the transition from NROTC to the fleet, and the roles of junior officers.

The tour began on the flight deck, as the guides explained the refueling and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) capabilities of the McFaul. The USS McFaul has the capability to accommodate all types of Navy rotary-wing aircraft, including the MH-60. Also of note was the ship’s Vertical Launch System, capable of firing guided missiles at various targets. The tour continued to the forecastle of the ship, where midshipmen were able to view the destroyer’s 5-inch gun up close. Many marveled at the immensity of the weapon. Guides also pointed out the ship’s SPY radar sensors, a major tool in the ship’s air-defense mission.

On the inside of the ship, midshipmen were taken to the bridge, for a lesson on how the ship is powered and driven. The tour guides also exhibited some of the ship’s navigational equipment, which some of the midshipmen had been learning about in their navigation class with LT Tribou. Up next was the heart of the McFaul, the Combat Information Center (CIC). The guides explained the vital role CIC plays in the ship’s operations and described some of the ship’s defensive and offensive capabilities. MIDN 3/C Griffin Keegan said, “it was very enlightening to learn about the role of surface warfare in a much more hands-on way than any presentation”. The tour finished in the ship’s mess deck. Aptly named “SEAL Stadium”, the mess deck honored the namesake of the USS McFaul, Donald L. McFaul, a Navy SEAL who gave his life serving in Operation Just Cause.

Overall, the tour served as an excellent opportunity for all who participated. Upperclassmen who attended learned great insights about their future roles as junior officers in the fleet, while underclassmen learned a great deal about one possible future career path. All midshipmen who attended greatly enjoyed the experience and look forward to future opportunities to tour and learn more about the fleet.

 

Hail to LT Jones

Written by MIDN 4/C Leora Tofler

The Boston NROTC Consortium warmly welcomes LT Kalyn Jones aboard. She will be acting as the 3/C Advisor and Administrative Officer for the BU side. LT Jones will also be teaching a course on Sea Power and Maritime Affairs.

LT Jones has a wide array of expertise and experiences to offer the consortium. She attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and earned her degree in Marine Operations and Technology. She has her third mate’s license and is qualified to work on a merchant ship. As a part of the academy’s curriculum she spent a few months of her sophomore and junior years working in a civilian maritime fleet. Her responsibilities included deck engineer, electrician and more. She always knew her destiny was in the air and after commissioning LT Jones began her work in flight school. She earned her wings in 2012 and ranked #1 in her class. She chose to fly the MH-60R and finished her aviation training with the Helicopter Strike Squadron Four Six in 2013. She was first deployed in 2013 to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group on the Destroyer USS Bulkeley. Onboard, LT Jones acted as Helicopter Second Pilot and the Detachment Training Officer. Immediately following her first tour she earned Helicopter Aircraft Commander and soon after began her second deployment with the Theodore  Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group on the Ticonderoga Class Guided Missile Cruiser, the USS Normandy. On this deployment, she was the Aircrew and Division Officer, Helicopter Aircraft Commander, and Air Operations Officer.

In Boston LT Jones will be working towards a masters degree in social work. She welcomes all midshipmen to stop by her office to talk. LT Jones is passionate about helping others and great at lending a listening ear. Her love of the Navy stems from the hard working men and women, functioning in both large and small roles. Her advice for midshipmen is to focus and “invest in the people around you and take care of them.”

 

 

 

Midshipmen Step Outside Their Comfort Zone

Written by 3/C Griffin Keegan

On Sunday, February 28th, Second Platoon of the BU Company made a trip to the rock-climbing wall at the BU FitRec. Led by Platoon Commander MIDN 1/C Potts, the Midshipmen spent roughly an hour scaling (and failing to scale) many different walls of varying difficulty levels.

Owing to the recent initiative for more platoon and squad activities, MIDN Potts thought rock climbing would be an excellent idea for platoon bonding. She said, “I wanted to get my whole platoon together doing something fun and different, while at the same time exposing them to opportunities at BU that they might not have thought to take advantage of in the first place”. The group, consisting of about half of 2nd Platoon, met up at the wall, and under the tutelage of the instructors there, performed free climbing of shorter walls and strapped in climbing of the larger ones, some as high as thirty feet. Some walls were easy, with first timers finding their way to the top with no problem, and others left even Midshipmen with previous experience stuck, or falling to the mats below. The event ended with a race between MIDN Gilbert and MIDN Kelly, with Gilbert taking home the win.

The participants could not speak highly enough of the experience, with MIDN Dwyer, who did a large amount of it in high school saying, “not only was it a great activity, from both a physical and enjoyment sense, it really brought the platoon closer together. I would highly recommend it, and plan to use it in the future, when I am in a higher leadership position”. MIDN Swartz also chimed in saying,“I enjoyed rock-climbing because it gave me an opportunity to interact with my platoon outside of the regular NROTC routine, which was very valuable”.

Potts was very happy with the way it turned out, commenting that “climbing is one of those rare actually fun workouts (at least to me) and when you finally get a climb a difficult wall, it’s instant gratification that you’re getting better… it’s super motivating to hear everyone cheer you on. It’s an awesome bonding experience”. Overall, the event was an overwhelming success, both by the consensus of the participants and the opinion of the organizer. It is something that future leaders should look into in the future, and may be a good option for PT as well.

 

Marine Options Prepare for OCS

Written by MIDN 3/C Ben Brewer

A lazy Sunday was not on the schedule for Boston NRTOC Marine Options. At 0545 the 16 midshipmen, along with cadre and officer instructors, arrived at Ashford Supply for a day trip to Fort Devens. The second Field Expedition was only a one-day event, albeit an exceedingly long day. From 0545-1900 the Marine Options participated in training that would prepare them for OCS.

The vans arrived at the Fort at approximately 0745 and a flurry of activity ensued in order to begin the hike on schedule. Meeting up with a corpsman, the Marine officer candidates began the hike. The route consisted of 8.3 miles of hills as the platoon humped its way through Fort Devens for the majority of the morning. All midshipmen performed well and few fell back as MIDN Frayne and Maj Hritz led the hike at standard OCS 15-minute mile pace. Sore feet and blisters were commonplace towards the conclusion of the hike.

Within minutes of the hike ending, the platoon was tasked with setting up security as Bulldogs began to receive 5 paragraph orders for the coming Squad in the Offensive (SITO). For the next four hours the Marine Platoon wove its way through different scenarios under the rotating leadership of MIDN Schaffino, Noviello, Murray, and King. The candidates assaulted up hills, through thickets, over streams, into marshes, and across brush fields in order to simulate OCS style Small Unit Leadership Evaluation. Compasses and maps guided MIDN through their tasks as they plotted points. The day did not end there, however.

At around 1630, MIDN Frayne lined the platoon up in two columns to begin a 2 mile run to the Leadership Reaction Course. The run was grueling for the already exhausted MIDN and featured many hills as everyone struggled to keep up. The experience aimed to simulate the exhaustion you would feel at OCS. A great sense of pride and relief was felt by all who completed the event.

Finally, the MIDN conducted a brief Leadership Reaction Course evolution. In fire team size elements, candidates were expected to overcome difficult obstacles. The evolution gauges success on the leadership exhibited rather than the success of the team.

After a long day the Marine Options returned to Ashford Supply to clean vans, check gear, and return rifles. At 1900 they were dismissed. It can be assumed that all participants in the Sunday FEX consumed exorbitant amounts of food before falling quickly asleep.

MIT Joint Service Ball

Written by MIDN 4/C Alana Davitt

On the evening of Friday March 4th, Midshipmen, Cadets, Unit and Cadre Staff, ROTC Commanders and Honored Guests all came together at the Cambridge Hyatt Regency for an evening of celebration. The 2016 Joint Service Ball for MIT ROTC served many purposes. It was a time for fellowship, for remembrance, for learning, for congratulating, for conversing and in the case of a few brave souls, for dancing.

The event kicked off around 1830 when students gathered in the hotel lobby for a social hour with light hor d’oeuvres and photographs. Dates were proudly introduced and uniform ribbons were adjusted. Promptly at 1915 the crowd was ushered into the ballroom and the ceremony officially began as the distinguished guests took their seats at the head table. After a well executed presentation of the colors and the playing of the national anthem, an invocation was offered and toast proposals were made. The speeches took a more somber tone as Battalion Commander MIDN 1/C Pushaw turned our attention to the empty round table at the corner of the room with covers from each of the four service branches placed around it. Symbolizing those held as Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA), seats were left unoccupied and glasses left un-raised for the men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion to their country. Out of our own devotion to their sacrifice and to their cause we remembered them.

Spirits were lifted however, by the arrival of the delicious main course meals, and the social hour of the night commenced. After a time of lively conversation amongst the Midshipmen, Cadets and Staff, the desserts had arrived and the guest speaker was announced: two special treats in one sitting. Colonel Michael Cornell, USAF, Director of Intelligence Plans and Programs for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, gave the address. In his endearing and topical speech he offered words of wisdom to a young Michael Cornell of the past still in Air Force ROTC, and in doing so imparted wisdom for the future to his audience of current college students on the verge of entering active duty. In his advice he urged young officers first to limit their thirst for action and not to be overzealous when faced with combat, and second to prepare for all expected events but to be ready too for the unexpected. In his third point Colonel Cornell appropriately defended the importance of joint operations among the services including the Reserves and the National Guard. He closed with a commendation to all the ROTC students, especially from such high achieving schools, for putting their countries’ continued success before their immediate own.

As the evening drew to a close, the praise continued. In celebration of the accomplishments of the graduating class, the commissioning information for each senior from each branch was announced to thunderous applause. A final benediction and the retiring of the colors sent most attendees on their way, but a few lingered to break in their dress shoes on the dance floor. Each of us left the ballroom walking a little taller, smiling a little wider. For the greatest success of the Joint Service Ball was its reminder of the strength in the company we keep and the honor in the profession we have chosen.

Notre Dame Leadership Conference

 

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Written by MIDN 2/C Lauren Mandaville

Photos by MIDN 3/C Catherine Senoyuit

On February 25-28, MIDN Burns, Holcomb, Mandaville, and Senoyuit represented the Boston Consortium at the Notre Dame Naval Leadership Conference. They went excited and came back with new friendships, guidance, and inspiration for their JO careers.

On this 21st consecutive year of the conference, the list of speakers was impressive: it began with a motivational talk by SgtMaj LeHew and continued on to include a JO Panel, a Navy Captain, a Marine Corps Major General, and no fewer than three Admirals, including the Keynote Speaker, Admiral Davidson, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Besides the talks, MIDN had the chance to work through what they’d learned with ethical discussions as well as to interact directly with each other and even with many of the speakers.

The theme of the weekend was “One Team, One Fight,” and speakers’ talks often overlapped to cover common themes of humility, integrity, passion, competence, and commitment to both one’s mission and one’s people. These points were emphasized with memorable aphorisms, such as: “no one comes to work planning to do a bad job” and “don’t look back unless you want to go that way,”

All four MIDN came back impressed with the conference and highly recommended it to their fellow MIDN in the future. In the middle of midterms and busy schedules, it was good to take a step back and remember what everything was for.