MIDN Tour Active Submarine

Photo and Article by MIDN 4/C Edward Natkin

On Saturday, April 23, midshipmen from five Boston schools had the opportunity to visit the USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine homeported in Groton, CT. The Hartford is an improved Los Angeles Class boat that recently returned from ICEX 2016, where she and her crew breached the polar ice cap several times and practiced conducting operations in the far north. Despite an early wake up on a Saturday, the midshipmen in attendance were excited to learn more about the submarine community and take advantage of the rare (and for most of their classmates nonexistent) opportunity to get an intimate tour of an active US Navy submarine. Following their time aboard the Hartford, the midshipmen also visited the Submarine Force Museum and the USS Nautilus museum submarine.

Midshipmen were split into two groups for the tour in order to navigate the narrow passageways and small compartments onboard the Hartford. The tours were led by two Second Class Petty Officers, both of whom were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the Hartford and her various systems. In the Hartford’s control center midshipmen heard from the Duty Officer, a lieutenant junior grade who spoke about the roles and responsibilities of a junior officer onboard a submarine. As they worked their way through the boat, midshipmen spoke with sailors from various rates and ranks about their areas of expertise and the systems they operate. One thing stressed by everyone onboard was the tight-knit community atmosphere and the high level of trust that all sailors and officers on the boat must have in one another. Interestingly, on submarines there are no dedicated damage control men or firefighters. If there is an emergency, everyone onboard has a responsibility, from the XO who serves as the incident commander to the cook who doubles as a paramedic.

Upon entering the wardroom the midshipmen and unit staff were fortunate to be greeted by the Hartford’s new XO. The XO asked the midshipmen about their career interests within the Navy and did his best to sell them on the submarine force. Specifically he cited the higher pay, opportunities to pursue advanced degrees, and the exciting (though secretive) missions and deployments. He then answered questions from the midshipmen on topics ranging from the ongoing integration of the submarine force to the challenges of raising a family as a sub officer.

Following the tour of the Hartford, midshipmen visited the Submarine Force Museum and walked through the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. The museum was very interesting, but after having almost unfettered access to the Hartford, the audio-guided tour of the Nautilus couldn’t really compare. However, it was remarkable to see how much has changed, and how much hasn’t, since the early days of nuclear power. On the whole, the day was highly successful, with the midshipmen learning a tremendous deal about the culture, operations, and history of the Navy’s “silent service”.


SecNav Speaks with Midshipmen

Written by MIDN 4/C Beckett Pulis

On 13 April 2016, Midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Battalion, graduate students of Harvard, and military personnel gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to hear from The Honorable Ray Mabus – the 75th Secretary of the Navy. The lecture, entitled “Universities, the Navy, and the Marines: Presence, Partnership, and the Way Ahead,” marked the five-year anniversary of the reinstatement of Harvard’s NROTC program following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010.

The lecture began with a few remarks from Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. She discussed the importance of the NROTC Program to Harvard and the uptick in enrollment in NROTC for the Class of 2020 before introducing SECNAV. SECNAV then presented her with a Marine Corps Saber to show his gratitude for the program’s return to Harvard.

SECNAV discussed the need for a more integrated and diverse military. “Today, less than 1 percent of the United States population serves in the military,” he noted. “Forty or fifty years ago, almost everyone had a close relative in the military.” He said, “A more diverse force is a stronger force. We must reflect the people we protect.” SECNAV cited examples such as expanding military enrollment to the LGBTQ community and opening up all billets to women as instances in which the Navy has strengthened itself through diversity.

He also took the time to highlight his plan for the future of the Navy. First, he said, there must be a focus on innovation in order to inspire new possibilities with service. Additionally, he called for a transition to promoting people based on merit rather than years of service. SECNAV cited progress in creating a single uniform so that women did not have to wear a separate uniform from men. Lastly, he briefly touched on the need to reform the VA; specifically, to work on reducing the amount of time a veteran has to wait for proper treatment.

Following the lecture, SECNAV took some time to field questions about ROTC enrollment and integrating females.  He was also asked whether incentives to join the military take away from one’s sense of service – to which he responded that anyone who joins must have a sense of service to his or her country regardless of the incentive.

Afterward, the midshipmen gathered outside with CAPT Benke for a group photo before SECNAV headed out to Fenway Park to throw the first pitch for the Red Sox home opener.  The midshipmen appreciated the opportunity to hear the perspective of senior Navy leaders right in their own backyard.


Photo by MIDN 3/C Ben Brewer

Written by MIDN 4/C Emily Ly

Instead of going out and partying on a Friday night, 15 Marine Option Midshipmen boarded a van and departed Boston University for Fort Devens for their third and final Field Exercise (FEX) of the year. It was also long one – Friday evening until Sunday morning.

The ride there was full of jokes and laughs.  Once the van stopped, however, the midshipmen soon became “candidates.” The cadre, all OCS graduates, turned on their Sergeant Instructor personas and simulated what Officer Candidate School (OCS) would be like. Memories of freshmen indoctrination came flooding back as the candidates were being yelled at to “move faster” and “sound off louder.”

The first thing these candidates had to do was set up their tents. The sun was setting and the hike was about to kick off. This 10 miler, although lacking in hills, made it up in length. Led by Major Hritz and OIC MIDN Frayne, all candidates performed well and finished. Once they reached the campsite, it was time for bed.

When the candidates woke up the next morning at 0630, it was time to kick off Squad in the Offensive (SITO). A pace count was led by PltCmdr Candidate Schaffino, followed by a run to the site. With camouflage face paint on, for the next four and a half hours, the bulldogs, Candidates Schaffino, Noviello, Murray, King and Finn, led their fire teams through various scenarios.

When SITO was over, it was only 1230 – the day was far from over. GySgt Askew brought out six rifles and led a weapons class. Each candidate was allotted time to break apart the rifle and learn how to put it back together again.

At approximately 1400, it was drill time. GySgt Askew showed the candidates how to fall in, dress right and look locked on. Right after drill was a 3-mile run with rifles to the Endurance Course. This course tested the candidates’ abilities and durability, as they had to jump walls, climb ropes, low crawl in the sand, sprint uphill and go over logs with their feet sore and blistered.

The Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) was the next event. This event tests how well the leader overcomes failure by always trying out new ways of resolution. The candidates’ next event was to map out their points and find the distance/azimuths for night land navigation. Once the azimuths and distances were done, they headed back to the new bivouac site to set up the tents once again. This time, set up went in a smooth manner. The candidates understood that the goal was not to get their own tent together as quick as possible, but for the entire platoon to finish.

Compasses and eye protection were handed out to the pairs and once the sun had set, they set out to see if their calculations were accurate. Pair by pair, they came back and hopped into the warm van, waiting to go back to the bivouac site. The day was long and FEX III was almost over; the only thing that stood between the candidates and the trip home was an 8-hour fire watch. Each tent was assigned 1:15 hours of watch in the cold.

The candidates woke up at 0500, put their tents away and started loading all the gear back into the van. Gear accountability was pushed heavily and nothing was lost. The car ride back home soon fell silent as the exhausted candidates fell asleep. After unloading the vans and returning rifles, a hot wash was conducted to talk about the FEX – the good and the bad – with coffee and bagels provided by Major Hritz. Everyone was dismissed at 1030 with the rest of the day waiting for them.

All in all, despite the exhaustion, there were a lot of laughs shared by this tight knit group of candidates throughout the weekend and definitely many memories made.


MIDN Experience the UCMJ in Action

Photo and Article by MIDN 4/C Quinn Magendanz

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the governing document of the military justice system.  On 6 April 2016, during a Battalion leadership lab, midshipmen had the opportunity to witness and take part in proceedings outlined in the UCMJ.

The lab centered around scenarios performed by several midshipmen from the battalion with CAPT Benke and CDR Masterson.  During these vignettes, which covered a variety of UCMJ violations, the participants demonstrated the proceedings associated with  Non-judicial Punishment (NJP, known in the Navy as Captain’s Mast and in the Marine Corps as Office Hours) and Administrative Separation (AdSep).  Following each of the scenarios, CAPT Benke and CDR Masterson explained what factors they considered as leaders when assessing the appropriate consequences.

To wrap up the lab, the Boston Battalion welcomed LCDR Nadella, a Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) and instructor at Naval Justice School in Newport, RI.  He provided his perspective on the UCMJ and led a discussion with midshipmen about its roles in maintaining good order and discipline in the military.  LCDR Nadella also discussed the role of leadership on improving performance and discipline among junior sailors and marines.

Navy Takes Home the Sheehan Cup

Photo by MIDN 4/C Savannah Clarke

Written by MIDN 4/C John Kiefer

Early on the snowy Sunday morning of 02 April 2016, the Boston University NROTC Company mustered to compete with BU Army and Air Force Cadets for the Sheehan Cup. It has been several years since Navy has had their plaque set in the Cup; in recent history, Army has dominated the record of the rivalry. Not this year. In a near sweep, Navy came in first place in a strong majority of the events and it was a proud Navy BnCO MIDN 1/C Pushaw who hoisted the cup at the conclusion of the Closing Ceremonies.

Following the National Anthem, OIC MIDN Love’s Instruction, and CAPT Benke’s opening remarks, team Navy took to the pool. The Navy and Marine Core Midshipmen dominated the water events, as in their nature, by sweeping first place in the 4×50 Medley Relay, 4×100 Freestyle Relay, and 4×50 Freestyle Relay with Boston College MIDN Hamilton, Spata, Koch, Savage, and Litwin, and Boston University’s MIDN King, Sternstein, and Lopez leading the way to a sound victory.

The competition proceeded down the street to Boston University’s Indoor Track and Field Complex for the remainder of the events. In the 4×800 Rifle Relay, Army rallied to take first. Freshman Marine Option MIDN Gosselin and Adams put their Semper Fidelis Society workouts to use in the longest and most punishing event of the day, the Iron Man competition. They collectively completed a 800M run, 200 pushups, 50 burpees, 200 sit-ups, 200M ammo can carry, 100 ammo can presses, 200M buddy carry, and a 400M run in under 19 minutes to win gold. Immediately following, in the Iron Woman Challenge Marine MIDN 1/c Pushaw and Navy MIDN 4/c Tofler jointed efforts to completely shatter the competition with a completion time of just over 18 minutes.

In the penultimate competition, the tire flip, MIDN Conkey and Kellner came in late to beat the Air Force’s standing time to keep the gold-medal streak alive.

Finally, in a test of brute strength, the tug-of-war competition was won by Air Force despite the vein-popping battle cries of Marine Option MIDN Brewer from the sidelines. In an encore performance, the always motivated Marine Corps Gunnery Sargent Askew announced an improvised joint staff competition following the MIDN Events: Army, Air Force, and BU Physical Trainer Brent vs. Navy and Marine Corps. GySgt Askew, LT Mondloch, CDR Masterson, LT Tribou, and LT Lucido redeemed the MIDN with a hard-fought victory.

Most motivating about the day, however, was not the dominating victories, but the fighting spirit of each branch and their unwillingness to give up or leave a member of any command behind. After running an iron man of their own, Cadets and MIDN cheered on and ran beside the Cadets who still remained far after the winner had been declared. At the end of the day, we are and always will be one team for one fight.

A Proud Midshipmen Battalion Commander- MIDN 1/C Carolyn Pushaw, Photo by MIDN 1/C Katrina Longest

Iwo Jima Veteran Comes to Boston

Written by MIDN 3/C Kevin Zhu

Photo by MIDN 4/C Savannah Clarke

On the morning of April 2nd, Midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Battalion gathered to listen to retired Marine Sgt Lawrence Kirby speak. A native of Boston, he had been an infantryman in the 2nd battalion, 9th Marines, in “E” Company during WWII. Having enlisted in the Marines in 1942, he saw action in Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima, before returning home. Since retiring he has gone on to law school and settled down with a family in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

A natural storyteller, he regaled the Midshipmen with tales of his time overseas. He described an incident in which he had taken charge of a patrol in Bougainville gone wrong, and organized a withdrawal to get back to their own lines. By doing so he had inadvertently held off a company sized element and given his own company time to dig in before a banzai attack. Awarded a silver star for his actions, he had stated that he was simply in the right place at the wrong time. His humility served as a lesson for the future officers and illustrated that in times of great adversity, great things can come from ordinary people.

On a more somber note, he informed the Midshipmen that since his time in Iwo Jima, he has never missed a day thinking about the twenty-two men in his platoon who had fallen in battle. As a way of coping with loss and honoring their memory, he blocks out time daily to think of each individual. It was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by service members and served as a lesson for the future Naval and Marine Corps officers not to take their friends and comrades in arms for granted.

Giving advice to the Midshipmen on command, Sgt. Kirby emphasized the value of diligence. He defined diligence being as the character trait necessary to being both consistent and competent. He stated that, “diligence is when you crawl out of your hole and take care of the little things like checking your weapons and gear. The enemy will bring the fight to you when you are not diligent, so don’t give them the chance catch you off guard”. He informed the Midshipmen that by maintaining diligence they will be leaders who know what they are doing and will be able to act in their men and women’s best interests.

When asked if he noticed differences between Marines of his generation and Marines today, Sgt. Kirby said that there isn’t one. “At the end of the day,” he said, “they’re just the same”.

Midshipmen Get a Glance at the Helicopter Community

Written by MIDN 4/C De Abreu

Photos by MIDN 4/C Person

It was 1200 on 02 April when MIDN at the MIT and BU wardrooms received the devastating news that the previously planned helicopter rides would not be happening due to the weather conditions. Nevertheless, all midshipmen made the 40-minute journey to Hanscom AFB, where the HSC-26 squadron was still meeting them. The group did not let the Boston weather keep them from learning more about the aviation community.

Upon arriving, the MIDN were warmly greeted by both officer and enlisted members of the crew. Based out of Norfolk, VA, the Helicopter Sea Combat squadron better known as the Chargers made the trip to Boston in their own bird the night before. They were excited to see everyone and ready to discuss any questions we had about aviation in general or mission specific questions that the crew had been involved in.

MIDN gained useful information about the career pipeline for aviation, especially on how to get through flight school. Two of the officers actually started out at NROTC units at GeorgiaTech and Penn State, so they provided really useful information about what the MIDN should be doing during college in preparation for naval aviation.

After talking, the MIDN got a chance to go outside and look at the squadron’s MH-60. Here, MIDN interacted more with the enlisted crewmembers who were at work repairing and maintaining the aircraft. The most exciting part for MIDN was probably getting to sit in the pilot’s seat.

The biggest take away from the day was learning about the helicopter community, as opposed to just aviation in general. The most commonly repeated phrase heard from the crew was, “Helicopters are awesome!” Bias aside, many of the MIDN noticed what a tight knit group the squadron had, and how they really loved the work they were doing for the Navy.

It’s safe to say the midshipmen were very motivated about helos on the ride back to campus.