Thursday, February 16, 2017

U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Dinner Honoring Future Marine Corps Officers

The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps visited the U.S. Naval Academy Feb. 16 to participate in a service assignment dinner and reception at Dahlgren Hall honoring the Class of 2017’s future Marine officers.

Gen. Glenn M. Walters addressed 267 first-class midshipmen who were selected for service assignment in the Marine Corps. Walters spoke about new implementations of platforms and technologies, but insisted the Marine Corps’ most valuable assets are the young men and women who lead Marines into combat.

"You are our real competitive advantage," said Walters. "The young men and women who are trained in an institution like this, who will raise your hand in one hundred days, are our greatest advantage. You are our center of gravity.”

Senior leaders from the Marine community and academy faculty celebrated the heritage, responsibility and camaraderie the midshipmen will inherit as members of the Corps.

“The opportunity you have that lies before you is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Commandant of Midshipmen Col. Stephen Liszewski. “It is the chance to live a life of substance and a life of consequence. I am excited for your future, and even more than that, I am excited to serve with you in our great Marine Corps in the years ahead.”

The Naval Academy Class of 2017 received their service assignments in November. As they get closer to graduation, they have the opportunity to celebrate their future service with their peers and mentors during the annual community dinners.

“It feels great to have an event like this,” said Midshipman 1st Class Kerri Haller. “Everyone is here to help us and give us guidance. All of us are starting a new career path, in a new service, and this welcoming support makes the transition much easier.”

“It’s really quite an honor to be here with all of the current and future Marine aviators of my class,” said Midshipman 1st Class Cori Caggiano. “It feels like a culminating event that really celebrates everything we have been working towards the past three and a half years.”

After graduation, the newly-commissioned second lieutenants will head to the Basic School in Quantico, Va. to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating force.

“Here at USNA, we have the rare and amazing experience to have leadership from the communities we are entering teach and guide us throughout our time here,” said Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Field. “Even tonight, we have the opportunity to speak with some of the highest-ranking officers who hold the job or position that we could possibly have one day. It’s a very humbling experience.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spring Semester Brigade Commander Encourages Midshipmen to “Be Worthy”

No one was more surprised than Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Isabel Krause when she was selected for the brigade commander position for spring semester 2017. 

"There are people at this institution who are very amazing, who are ten times more qualified than I am for this billet," said Krause. "I'm fortunate most of them are on my staff so I get to work with those people every single day."

A self-proclaimed "Navy brat," Krause has lived in a lot of different places, so claiming a hometown is complicated. She graduated high school in Naples, Italy. Her parents - both '93 grads - now live in Davidsonville, Maryland. Her father, Cmdr. Jeff Krause, is a naval aviator currently working with Foreign Area Officers at the Pentagon.

Though the daughter of USNA alumni, she never seriously considered attending the academy until her junior year of high school. She had always been attracted to military service, but thought she wanted to do something like the Reserve Officer Training Corps and attend a civilian college.

"I grew up surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to service, but I didn't think that path would take me to the Naval Academy. I thought I wanted something different. I was wrong."

She's grateful she made the decision. 

"This place is amazing," said Krause. "Everybody's very like-minded. Everyone really buys into the bigger picture. Everybody's driven to be a part of something bigger than them. That binds us all together."

The experiences and relationships she has built here make for a special connection between her classmates, she said.

Only about six weeks into the job of running the brigade staff (which in turn runs the entire 4,400-strong Brigade of Midshipmen), Krause has already learned a lot about practical leadership.

"Learning how to empower my regimental commanders" has been an eye-opening experience, she said. Understanding how to motivate people with very different leadership styles themselves has been an interesting challenge for her. 

"How you deliver tasks or how you deliver your vision to different people is going to get you different results," she said. "It's probably been one of the coolest things so far about the job."

Krause, a systems engineering major with a minor in Spanish, always expected she would be an aviator, but after spending time in the submarine community during summer cruise, she changed her mind. She found the same drive that attracted her to the Naval Academy among the officers and enlisted on the submarine and was hooked. 

"The mission and the people are 100 percent exactly what I'm interested in."

She'll start her career by attending Nuclear Power School after graduation this May with the goal of becoming a submarine officer, but until then she has a big vision for the brigade. Her overarching theme for her peers is "Be worthy." She wants to encourage other midshipmen to not just put the checks in the box to get to graduation but to actively develop themselves into future leaders.

There are three areas of focus she emphasizes: integrity in all things, by which she means not just do the right thing, but hold others to a higher standard; 360 degree leadership, which means providing leadership up and down the chain of command and also to one's peers; and ownership, being all in.

"Inspirational leadership shouldn't just come from a first class midshipman," said Krause. "You can inspire your peers as well. A lot of times people think inspirational leadership is only top-down."

In addition to serving as the highest-ranking midshipman this semester, Krause keeps herself busy as a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and as a high jumper on the Women’s Track Team. Her younger sister, Victoria, is a member of the Class of 2018, currently studying abroad in Spain.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brigade Boxing: MIDN 3/C John Makiling

The 76th Annual Brigade Boxing Championships will take place Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall. We reached out to the midshipmen involved in this year's boxing program to get some insight into the lessons boxing provides them as future officers.

MIDN  3/C John Makiling, competing in the 165-lb division: "Boxing is a way of life. Everyone fights for some type of success in their own way. I love boxing because it gives me a simulation of combat that I will encounter in my military career. I hope to inspire others to battle anything with perseverance, determination, and heart. It has developed me by instilling discipline through training and the willingness to win during a fight."

As part of the academy’s physical education program, all midshipmen are required to participate in boxing, and boxing is also offered as a club sport at the Academy. The boxing team participates in invitational competitions in the fall and spring, as well as in ongoing intramural bouts. The Brigade Boxing Championship showcases the most elite midshipmen boxers, each performing in three-round matches within their weight class.

Friday, February 10, 2017

USNA Hosts Annual Astronaut Convocation

By MCSN Kaitlin Rowell

The United States Naval Academy hosted its annual Astronaut Convocation Feb. 9 in Alumni Hall.

This year’s theme focused on the future of human space exploration to Mars. The Brigade of Midshipmen had an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion with four USNA graduates who went on to become astronauts and leaders in field of space exploration.

The panel members took turns discussing various topics including NASA’s role in commercial space travel, as well as speaking to the midshipmen about the importance of their future roles as military leaders.

“You will be wearing the uniform of the most powerful military in the world,” said retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. (USNA '68), former NASA administrator. “You’re training to lead it. You’re training to lead young men and women who have to believe in you. You learn something here in your core values training that is not just words; it is really important. You are the leaders of the world and people look to us wherever we go.”

Capt. Chris Cassidy (USNA '93), chief of the NASA Astronaut Office, spoke about the training cycle NASA uses for preparation and the how crews assigned today are the ones that will be performing missions beginning in 2019.

“It takes about two and a half years of training to get to the point of launch,” said Cassidy. “Much like a pre-deployment work up cycle that we all experience or you guys will experience in the Navy.”

Capt. Michael Lopez-Alegria (USNA '80), and Capt. Bruce McCandless (USNA '58) also sat on the panel. Additionaly, eight more of the Naval Academy’s 53 astronaut graduates were in attendance.

The annual astronaut convocation is designed to provide a unique and valuable interaction for the midshipmen as they look ahead to their own careers.

“I’ve been interested in space for a long time,” said Midshipman 4th Class Brendan Finn. “I thought it was really neat hearing the different perspectives from each of the astronauts, especially since each had a different job at NASA.”