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

BU Sheehan Cup

The annual Boston University Sheehan Cup took place on Saturday, March 30th. With all midshipmen and cadets from the BU NROTC, AFROTC, and AROTC in attendance, the event was quite a spectacle. The events started at 0600 with the grueling Warrior Challenge. Teams of two from Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force competed in a series of exercises, including push-ups, ammo-can lifts, sit-ups, burpees, and buddy carries. Army came out on top, followed by Air Force and the Navy-Marine Corps team. The two Marine option midshipmen representing the NROTC, Midn Hamilton and King, gave an outstanding performance in the Warrior Challenge, demonstrating the drive and physical aptitude of the NROTC.

Following the Warrior Challenge, midshipmen and cadets competed in soccer, tug-of-war, dodge ball, basketball, and relays. Naval ROTC dominated in both dodge ball and basketball, beating the Air Force and Army teams. The relays had mixed results with Navy putting on a great showing in the 4X4, the mile, and the 4X2. The tug-of-war had interesting results, with Navy beating Army in the first round, and Air Force beating Navy in the second. Army pulled through in the end, defeating the Air Force cadets in the third round and thus winning the tug-of-war.

At the end of the day, with all the points tallied, Army defended their title and defeated the other services. The Sheehan Cup brought out the competitive drive and fighting spirit of all services, and proved to be a great showing of what each service can do. MIDN Kelley, coordinator of the Sheehan Cup, and his staff ran a smooth and successful event and at the end of the day, all services enjoyed the day of physical competition, teamwork, and camaraderie.

Written by: MIDN 3/C Conner Love

Remarks from the Midshipman BnCO

DSC_4735My name is Michael Simpson and I am the Midshipman Battalion Commanding Officer for Spring 2014. I am a senior at Boston University majoring in International Relations, and I will commission as a Marine Corps Officer in May. It is an honor to work alongside and for the midshipmen of the Boston Naval ROTC as we prepare for our careers as Naval and Marine Corps Officers.

Now is our opportunity to prepare for that immeasurable responsibility. I am fortunate enough to have a truly skilled midshipman staff who are passionate about the program and bring different experiences and perspectives to the table.  So far this semester they have put together a number of successful training evolutions, including leadership labs focusing on moral and ethical discussions, and lectures from university professors and VADM Bushong. We have a number of fun evolutions planned for the coming month, such as the MIT Beaver Cup Regatta and BU Joint Service Sheehan Cup.  I am excited to see how the second half of the semester works out.

Looking beyond this semester, our 1/c Navy Option midshipmen have completed their service and ship selections and are waiting to receive orders. Our 1/c Marine Option midshipmen should hear about their TBS dates within the next month.  It is exciting to think the culmination of our four years of training is only two months away. I trust that our 1/c MIDN are ready to hit the fleet and complete their mission.

Very Respectfully,

Michael Simpson

Midn BnCO

MIT Joint Service Ball

Class of 2014 from MIT, Harvard, and Tufts

On Friday evening, March 7th, members of the MIT military community gathered together for the annual MIT Joint Service Ball.  The event was well attended by Navy, Army, and Air Force midshipmen and cadets from the MIT ROTC units.  Special guests included MIT faculty members and the commanding officers of the MIT ROTC units: Captain Steven Benke, Professor of Naval Science; Lieutenant Colonel Adam Edwards, Professor of Military Science; and Lieutenant Colonel Ted Weibel, Professor of Aerospace Studies.


IMGP2950The evening commenced at 1800 with a social and cocktail hour as midshipmen, cadets, officers, and enlisted personnel across the different services chatted and mingled.  When it was time to transition into the ballroom for dinner and the ceremony, the midshipmen and cadets of the Class of 2014 formed a receiving line to welcome and greet the officers and important guests in attendance.   As the ceremony proceeded, each of these graduating midshipmen and cadets was recognized, as well as his or her service assignment following commissioning.  All midshipmen of the Old Ironsides Battalion cheered proudly for their senior class, trying to outdo in volume the cheers of their Army and Air Force counterparts.  The Navy and Marine Corps 1/c midshipmen are: Mic Byrne, Brian Foley, Victoria McCrave, Tyler Mehrman, and Elliot Sykora from MIT; Joshua Prince from Tufts; Catherine Brown, CJ Curtis, and Catherine Philbin from Harvard.  These outstanding senior midshipmen will be serving in a range of communities, from Naval Aviation to Navy Special Warfare.


Although the ball was a joyous occasion, part of the ceremony served to remember and commemorate those POW’s and MIA’s who were not able to join in the celebration.  Festivities continued throughout the evening, as dinner and dancing were enjoyed by all present.  Much camaraderie could be seen among the midshipmen and cadets, strengthening the bonds of friendship formed by a shared desire to serve in the United States military.   The MIT Joint Service Ball will definitely be remembered, and eagerly looked forward to next year.


Written by: MIDN 2/c Bridget McCoy

Vice Admiral Bushong Visits MIT

2014-02-28 13.15.00Midshipmen from the MIT and BU Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit welcomed Vice Admiral Paul J. Bushong  to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on February 28th to discuss his career and current service assignment. VADM Bushong, a 1981 Naval Academy graduate, is currently the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem. His primary responsibility is to the Secretary of State “for assisting the Palestinian Authority to transform and professionalize its security sector, advocating for security initiatives that build trust and confidence, and supporting whole-of-government efforts to set the conditions for a negotiated two-state solution” (

Over an engaging discussion and lunch, midshipmen asked intelligent and provoking questions with regard to Israeli-Palestinian affairs. VADM Bushong discussed his experiences travelling between the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv every week. While the three are located no more than 45 miles apart, VADM Bushong noted that the places are drastically different. On top of that travel, he comes back to Washington every three months to brief the Department of Defense on his work.

As a submarine officer in the desert, VADM Bushong certainly stands out in more ways than one. Commenting on his choice to become a submariner, Bushong noted that his original desire at the Naval Academy was to join the Marine Corps. The Navy had other plans for him, however, and he was selected for the submarine service. Bushongs says that “the Navy needed me for the job, so that’s what I wanted to do.”

2014-02-28 13.22.53

Looking back on his experiences to date, VADM Bushong remarked that the tours that stand out most in his memory were the ones at sea with his sailors. Midshipman 2nd Class Josh Dalva of Boston University asked the question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind: “Being a submarine officer, how did you come into your current service assignment?”

Without missing a beat, Bushong responded, “By taking the road less travelled. Part of the game is being willing to play, and that involves taking the job assignments that interest you, rather than those that are predetermined for a successful career.” Bushong left the midshipmen with a new perspective about the kinds of job that are available for naval officers. The midshipmen of the Boston Consortium found Vice Admiral Bushong’s visit enlightening and were appreciative of the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him.

Written by: MIDN 2/c Vadim Reytblat

2nd Annual Brian R. Bill Memorial Challenge

Brian Bill Memorial ChallangeOn 22 February, 2014, The Golden Anchor Society and Norwich University’s Naval ROTC Unit held the 2nd Annual Brian R. Bill Memorial Challenge. Brian R. Bill was a midshipman in the Norwich Naval ROTC Unit and a distinguished graduate of the university. Upon graduation, Brian enlisted in the Navy with the resolute intention of joining the ranks of the special warfare community as a Navy SEAL – a title many seek and few ever achieve. In 2003, he received his designation as a Navy SEAL, and what followed was a distinguished career befitting of the title he had earned. He achieved the rank of chief petty officer, and for his accomplishments as a SEAL, he was awarded four Bronze Stars with Valor, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, and three Good Conduct Medals. Brian was loved by all, respected by his peers and fellow SEALs, and idealized by every midshipman and cadet who attended Norwich University.


On 06 August 2011, Chief Petty Officer Brian Bill was tragically killed, while assigned to the Special Operations Development Group (DEVGRU), deployed to the Wardak province, west of Kabul, in Afghanistan. Tasked as a member of a quick reaction force attempting to reinforce an engaged unit of Army Rangers, the U.S. Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying Brian and 37 others was shot down by Taliban forces. Brian was a man imbued with uncommon valor, unyielding courage, and a deep devotion to the service of his community and nation. The loss of a young man of such stature and rapport hit hard for his family and the Norwich University community. His sacrifice was known by many, and inspired all who have come to believe in the values he had so fiercely sought to protect.

IMG_0032The love surrounding Brian’s life was evident Saturday morning prior to the start of the Memorial Challenge, as Brian’s father spoke of his son’s accomplishments. He called all present to continue the life of service his son had led and to embrace the warrior sprit his son had adopted, and which this challenge was designed to embody.


The Boston Naval ROTC Battalion sent three teams to represent the Consortium at the Memorial Challenge. Each team gave a valiant effort to overcome the twenty-three obstacles encompassed in the grueling eight-kilometer challenge. The Boston Consortium midshipmen who participated were MIDN 1/C CJ Curtis and Christopher Greco; MIDN 2/C Vadim Reytblat and Erik Klatt; MIDN 3/C Luis Cruz; MIDN 4/C Matthew De La Ossa, Brendan Koch, Beryl Fischer, Zach Scholz, Patrick Lavin, and Josh Zins; and Midn 4/C Tyler King. All performed admirably at the event. The true test of the challenge occurred as midshipmen and cadets traversed a towering mountain, nicknamed by Norwich midshipmen and cadets as, “Mount Pain”. The name was truly well deserved as each Boston NROTC midshipmen felt the pain of marching up the ice and snow covered mountainside. Throughout the event, racers could be heard shouting words of encouragement to opposing teams. While a feeling of fierce competition was evident, the sense of camaraderie was even more present — both characteristics befitting of Brian’s memory.


All proceeds of the Challenge were donated to the Brian Bill Memorial Fund. The fund was started in order to help perspective Navy SEALs and the families of current special warfare operators to attend college to further their education and service in the armed forces. For all midshipmen considering this evolution in the future: it is a must! Nowhere else will you be able to push your physical and mental capabilities to limit, while honoring the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us. I would like to congratulate Norwich University on a job well done, and thank the Bill family for allowing us to honor the memory and heroic sacrifice of their son. Hooyah, Chief Petty Officer Bill and Hooyah, Navy!

Written by: MIDN 1/c Christopher P. Greco

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