SFS FEX Fall 2016

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Article by MIDN 4/c Jack Venden, photo provided by MIDN 2/c Steven LaDine

As a high school student, organization was never one of my major concerns. I was able to keep track of my homework assignments, test dates, and extracurriculars very easily. I excelled in these activities without writing myself notes or maintaining a calendar. As a result, I felt disciplined. Feeling control over my surroundings in high school made me confident that I would require little organizational development as a college student and NROTC midshipman.

After my first week of college classes and my indoctrination weekend, it was clear I was far from organized. I felt blindsided every hour with a new academic or NROTC assignment, event, or task, and I had no plan of how to record it all. Nonetheless, I still felt disciplined. At least I was making more of an effort than the average college student to stay organized and complete my tasks on time. As far as I was concerned, “trying my best” was good enough, and that eventually, the organizational piece would magically come together. It wasn’t until the Field Exercise (or FEX) for Marine Options that I discovered what it truly means to be organized and disciplined.

Upon our arrival to Peddocks Island, I was feeling good to go. I had checked my gear lists, my canteens were full, my moleskin was precut, and my skivvies were rolled and stashed in zip-lock bags. I was hydrated, fed, rested, and motivated. The second we hit the pier however, I was consumed by the chaos. I ran up the hill following the cadre towards the bivouac, my left shoulder burning from the weight of someone’s ILBE, the pole of the guidon banding my shin with every step. I had no control over my surroundings. I didn’t feel disciplined. I felt like an idiot.

Things only got worse after stepping off. I took too long fumbling with the poles and loopholes of the tent, so I had to disassemble it and start over. Halfway through our six-mile hike, I wasted precious minutes looking for my foot powder, so I didn’t have time to eat. I had to fill my stomach with water from my camelback instead. Worst of all, coming back from getting my feet patched up in sick bay, I forgot my rifle. Standing in front of the whole platoon and shouting to the cadre “sir, this candidate does not have his rifle” was by far the most difficult part of my FEX experience.

Our weekend on Peddocks Island taught me the importance of organization in the United States Marine Corps. It became obvious that regardless of speed, volume, intensity, fitness, leadership ability, or drive, people cannot succeed at officer candidate school (OCS) and become effective leaders of Marines without being exceptionally organized. They must be accountable for their own equipment and plans, as well as the equipment and roles of the Marines under their command. Failure to live up to these expectations cannot be tolerated regardless of how hard one tries. In combat, when someone fails to do their job, people die.

The responsibility of our future roles as leaders of Marines is daunting. We will need the ability to make difficult decisions in stressful situations. That ability will be tested to the extreme at OCS, and the only way to learn where we need to improve is to get in the field and practice. This FEX was my first practice, it showed me that I have a long road ahead of me before I can be an officer. More importantly, however, it showed the specific skills I would need to improve upon in order to earn the title “United States Marine Corps Officer.”

 

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VISIT BY ADMIRAL MICHAEL ROGERS

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Article by MIDN 2/c Palomo, photo by MIDN 3/c Clarke

 

On October 5th, Admiral Michael Rogers, who is the Commander of US Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency visited the Boston NROTC Consortium.  In his speech, the Admiral addressed a range of topics from his personal journey and experiences to leadership knowledge.  What was striking about his speech was how clear he loves this job and believes in what it stands for.  The passion he showed was inspiring, as he discussed the hardships and sacrifices associated military lifestyle.  He stressed the importance of family and the invaluable support system they offer.  As future military members, we need to be aware of how much our families sacrifice for us and appreciate their sacrifices as well.  “Seeing Admiral Rogers was a really unique and enjoyable experience.  It’s not everyday one gets to see a four-star admiral, especially not one with so much responsibility in such a high profile evolving command.  His remarks informative and inspiring, and his passion for service really shone throughout his time with us.”- MIDN Ramirez.

After his speech, he opened the floor up to questions from the Midshipman.  He shared his perspectives on topics like ISIS, leadership techniques, and mission accomplishment. He has held joint positions involving the Marines, Air force, Army, and Navy since the O-6 level.  The cultures between the four branches are distinct and unique, each having their own strengths and weakness. Joint cooperation between the branches is the way our military is shifting and being able to combine the best parts of each service will be essential.  The discussion was engaging and thought provoking shedding a new light on a wide range of topics.  Many of the Midshipman feel that Admiral Rogers was one of the best guest speakers that we have had the privilege of hosting.  MIDN Haley reflects, “Its always great to have high ranking officers willing to engage us directly here in Boston, but is was especially interesting to hear from an operational commander about not only his path through his career but about the issues that the Navy faces today in terms of cyber security.”

NROTC Midshipmen Attend Motivating Ship Naming Ceremony

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Article by MIDN 1/C Huynh, Photo by SECNAV public affairs staff

 

Ten midshipmen had the amazing opportunity to attend the naming ceremony of the US Navy’s newest fleet replenishment oilers, T-AO 209 and 210. This service, held in the Boston Public Library, showcased the social reforms which have come to the US Navy under Ray Mabus’ direction. The Secretary of the Navy has named this newest class of oilers the John Lewis-class, after the civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, and has declared that he would name all subsequent ships after those who fight for human rights. Notably, Secretary Mabus named T-AO 206 “USNS Harvey Milk,” after the LGBTQ rights activist who was assassinated while in political office.

The moving ceremony started off with the presentation of colors and national anthem by the USS Constitution staff. Secretary Mabus then rose and addressed the audience, commenting on the fact that all of the sailors from the USS Constitution staff — both men and women — were wearing the same uniform. Females in the military, he pointed out, were routinely separated from the rest of their comrades in both duties and uniform. But it is clear that he will not stand for this type of inequality in today’s Navy. He told the audience, “you weren’t looking at male sailors or female sailors. You were looking at sailors, and that’s the way it ought to be.”

The SECNAV announced the names for the two newest oilers, which further highlighted his dedication to gender equality and civil rights in the Navy. He named the new oilers the USNS Lucy Stone and the USNS Sojourner Truth, after historic female civil rights leaders.

Lucy Stone was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and the first woman to earn a college degree in Massachusetts. A strong, driven woman, Lucy Stone famously decided to keep her own name after marriage, which was nearly unheard of in the 17th century, and vocally pushed for legislation to abolish slavery and to promote women’s rights and suffrage.

Sojourner Truth was a black woman born into slavery in 1797. Originally born Isabella Baumfree, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth after her escape to freedom, and became an extraordinarily outspoken human rights advocate, known for her speech “Ain’t I A Woman.” She became the first black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man after she sued for custody of her son, who had been sold to a different master after she fled to freedom.

Secretary Mabus also announced the sponsors for the two newest ships during the naming ceremony. For the USNS Lucy Stone, he chose Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and for the USNS Sojourner Truth, he chose Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Ms. Wright attended the ceremony, and spoke on the importance of women’s rights and civil rights activism. She read a quote from Sojourner Truth, which is inscribed on a pendant she wears around her neck: “If women want any rights more than they’ve got, why don’t they just take them and not be talking about it?” Wright exhorted the gathered crowd to take these words seriously, saying that “these are our marching orders.”

After closing remarks by SECNAV, and the reveal of the USNS Sojourner Truth and USNS Lucy Stone, the ceremony was over. The Midshipmen in attendance had the opportunity to talk with some of the former military members in the audience, and then snagged a photo with the Secretary himself (shown above).

The BU-MIT Midshipmen left the ceremony with pride in the tenets which their uniforms represent. MIDN 2/C Henzer of Tufts University commented that “hearing the SECNAV’s explanation of why these ships were receiving these names was extremely important in terms of acknowledging the ideals we fight for, especially given that these women were leaders outside of a military context.” Of course, he also admitted, “getting to see the SECNAV himself was an amazing opportunity, and we all left feeling much more motivated about the service.”

Fourth Class Participate in USS Constitution Heritage Weekend

20160917_122551.jpgBy MIDN 3/C Daniel Kelly, Photo by USS Constitution Public Affairs

Freshmen from the Boston NROTC Consortium traveled to the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” this past weekend, September 17th and 18th, for a lesson in US Navy tradition and interactions with enlisted sailors. The USS Constitution, the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, is a working naval command as well as a historical site. The crew are all active duty members of the US Navy who participate in outreach events and ceremonies for the mission of educating people on the rich history of the USS Constitution. The incoming 4/C had the honor of taking part in some these events.

Early Saturday, the freshmen and supporting staff arrived at the Constitution ready for a full day of training events and naval history. The weekend started with a trip to Bunker Hill and a lesson on the history of the “Battle of Bunker Hill,” one of the early battles of the American Revolutionary War where the famous order “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was given. Then the 4/C engaged in an informative lesson in drill with Gunnery Sergeant Askew. Afterwards, the freshmen spent time at various stations where they actively participated in evolutions that the crew of the Constitution in the 19th century would have done as well.

The first of three groups started at the cannon firing station. Midshipmen gained proficiency in the workings of loading and firing a cannon, trying to attain the shortest cycle time. Another group wen to the pike station where they learned how to wield and fight with pikes. The pike, a long staffed weapon with a blade on the end, was used by the Marines on the Constitution to prevent the ship from being boarded. The last of the groups would be at the rowing station, during which the freshmen were able to work as a team and row around the Boston Harbor in gigs designed to resemble ones used by Constitution in the 19th century.

Saturday night the freshmen helped clean the warship and polish her brass, then took part in a tour of the whole ship where they were told the history of the ship and ghost stories from Old Ironsides’ crewmembers. Getting the full experience, the 4/C spent the night under the stars on the top deck of the ship. MIDN 4/C Pilepich said “I gained a true appreciation for the history and the traditions of the Navy. There is nothing quite like spending a night aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy to teach someone that.”

The next morning all of the midshipmen and staff had the opportunity to run along part of Boston’s Freedom Trail all the way to historic Faneuil Hall. The ship’s crew led the formation run and taught the midshipmen to sing cadence. The few hardy Bostonians we met along the route cheered and wished us well as we ran by.

After the run and a quick cleanup, the midshipmen went back to the gunnery station to compete for the fastest time. Team 3 won the event and received “Master Gunner” certificates and spent shell casings from the Constitution’s 40mm ceremonial cannon as their prizes. After cleaning and polishing the ship’s spar deck one last time and enjoying a hot breakfast in the galley, the midshipmen enjoyed an entertaining presentation about the ship’s history and restoration in the USS Constitution Museum and etched their names into the copper plating that will line her hull for the next 20 years.

Overall, it was an amazing learning and team-building experience, and we are thankful to the crew of the USS Constitution for this unique opportunity.

Boston NROTC Consortium Change of Command

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Photo by Ms. Phyllis Norwood

Article by ENS Robert Conkey

On Friday June 10th the command of the Boston Navy ROTC Consortium formally changed hands from CAPT Steven M. Benke to CAPT James E. Horten in a change of command ceremony.  With an 18th floor view from Boston University’s west campus, downtown Boston and the Charles River were a perfect backdrop for CAPT Benke to finish out four great years in Boston.

After both CAPT Benke and CAPT Horten were piped aboard, the crew of the USS Constitution presented the colors for the playing of the national anthem. ENS Conner Love then gave the invocation to pray for both the incoming and outgoing commanding officers.  From there, CAPT Benke gave his remarks thanking his friends, family, and staff for their hard work and support over four years.  He spoke of how rewarding he found the job to mentor, lead, and grow Midshipmen from high school graduates and commission them as Naval officers.

Following CAPT Benke’s remarks, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his leadership and success in meeting the NROTC mission and accession goals. He was also presented a framed picture of the Boston Battalion, with the frame made of wood and copper from the hull of the USS Constitution.  From there, each Captain read his orders and CAPT Horten formally accepted total responsibility, authority, and accountability from CAPT Benke.  CAPT Horten followed with his concise remarks, stating that he is ready and looking forward to assuming command and taking on the role of Commanding Officer of the Boston NROTC Consortium.  After a closing benediction from ENS Love wishing them good will in their future endeavors the Captains were piped ashore and everyone enjoyed a reception in the back.

CAPT Horten’s last duty station was Commanding Officer of Cornell University’s Naval ROTC unit. From Boston, CAPT Benke’s next tour of duty will be in Norfolk, Virginia working with Submarine Forces Atlantic.

 

Four New Officers Commissioned at Boston College

BC Commissioning 2016By ENS Jasper Burns

Boston Consortium NROTC commissioned four Boston College graduates into the Navy and Marine Corps last Sunday, May 22nd. ENS Longest, ENS Rogers, ENS Spata, and 2nd LT Hamilton all commissioned in a joint ceremony with BC army cadets on the Bapst Lawn.

The Master of Ceremonies was Army Cadet Robert Chesler, who introduced the commissionees and introduced the Professor of Military Science, LtCol Timothy Ferguson. Following LtCol Ferguson’s remarks, were those by the Guest of Honor, Major General James F. Pasquarette, Commanding General of United States Army Japan, who had flown in from Japan the previous night for the sake of this commissioning.  He noted that being at the ceremony was not a burden, but an honor.

After his speech, each commissionee came up in turn to take their oath. 2nd Lt Connell of BC Army said some words as class speaker, and then all the new officers received their first salutes in front of BC’s Golden Eagle.

MIDN 1/C Reid noted that “One of the best parts about this ceremony was that it brought BC’s Army and Navy units together, which is something that doesn’t happen too often. As a result, there were many jokes regarding the age-old rivalry between the two branches, but the guest speakers also spoke about joint operations between the two and the importance of each branch by itself.”

ENS Longest and ENS Rogers will be reporting to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton as Navy Nurses. ENS Spata is going to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola as a Naval Flight Officer, and 2nd Lt Hamilton will be headed to The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia for training as a Marine Officer.