Friday, December 19, 2014

USNA Midshipmen Take Top Slots at NYU Cyber Security Awareness Week Policy Competition

Eight Midshipmen from the Information Warfare Group competed in the final round of New York University’s Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) policy competition, the newest event in the largest student-run cyber security conference in the nation. 

Two of the three USNA teams attending finished second and third.  All USNA teams finished in the top five nationally.

Each team had to draft a detailed policy paper addressing security issues involving the Internet of Things (networked  household appliances such as refrigerators, thermostats, and security systems.)

Subsequently, the teams gave a detailed presentation to a distinguished panel of judges drawn from academia, government, and private industry and fielded detailed questions regarding their policy proposals.   

Information Warfare Group Participants at the NY Public Library

Here are the final results.

First Place: University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Team [REDACTED]

Second Place: United States Naval Academy Team FrostByte (Midshipman 1st Class Xisen Tian and Midshipmen 3rd Class Naadia Puri and Nico Shyne)

Third Place: United States Naval Academy TeamUSNA (Midshipmen 1st Class Zane  Markel and Kevin Doran and Midshipman 2nd Class Bill Young)

Nationally Ranked: United States Naval Academy Team White Covers (Midshipmen 3rd Class Joseph Yates and Kim Do)

The first instance of CSAW’s policy competition generated lots of positive discussion at the annual event. Organizers stated that the policy competition would be held at next year’s CSAW conference and strongly encouraged USNA teams to compete again.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

VADM Carter's Naval War College Portrait Unveiled

USNA Superintendent VADM Ted Carter appears with Mr. Gerald Slater at the unveiling of VADM Carter’s official Naval War College portrait in Newport, RI.  VADM Carter previously served as the President of the Naval War College prior to reporting to USNA in July, 2014.

Monday, December 15, 2014

U.S. Naval Academy Honors Fallen

Midshipmen, Sailors, officers and volunteers from the local community took part in the Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy's cemetery, Dec. 12.

More than 2,000 remembrance wreaths were placed on the headstones of midshipmen and distinguished alumni.

Vice Adm. Ted Carter, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, delivered remarks prior to the event, reminding everyone in attendance of the importance of commemorating those who have gone before us.

"The laying of these wreaths or the placing of flags on graves during Independence Day or on 9/11 is part of an annual cycle of remembrance, which is part of the gift we give back to those who lost their life in defense of this country," said Carter. "This is the time we take a moment and remember the freedoms they died for as we stand on this ground."

Midshipman 3rd Class Mckenzie Barnett, this year's event organizer, said she was inspired by her brother to coordinate Wreaths Across America at the Academy. This is her second year organizing the event and she shared the view of many in attendance.

"I was originally introduced to it because of my brother who was part of the wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in 2011 with the Navy Ceremonial Guard," said Barnett. "Wreaths Across America has an especially powerful impact because it reminds us of why we too want to serve, and what the ultimate sacrifice really means. It's an opportunity to commemorate our past heroes and inspire our future leaders."

An estimated 725,000 wreaths were be placed across the country on National Wreaths Across America Day, Dec. 13. 

Wreaths Across America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester, in 1992. Since 2008, Congress has issued a proclamation officially recognizing national "Wreaths Across America Day" each December. This year's theme is, "Remember, Honor, Teach - Don't Say I Should Have, Say I Did!"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The History Behind the Ball Run

Each year, the midshipmen of 13th Company run the Army-Navy Game ball from T-Court to the stadium in time for the game. MIDN 1/C Eliud Martinez, a member of 13th Company, writes about how this tradition came about.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Clay Noto suggested to the 13th Company stripers of the Class of 1982 that a relay would be a great way to build company spirit and change the perception of “unlucky” 13.
He told these stripers that a run had occurred when he was a midshipman, sometime between 1968 and 1972, but had been thrown away as something too difficult to plan. It used to be organized by the Brigade Activities Committee, which was in charge of spirit-related events, and the event was meant to include runners from every company.

The event fell by the wayside until it was attempted again in 1981, when Noto became the 13th Company Officer. He realized that one company had enough manpower to run the ball, as long as all four classes supported the idea.

Noto said the credit truly belongs to Tim Thomas, Class of 1982, who did most of the planning for the run. The relay itself however, was the brainchild of Bernie Mimms, Class of 1985, a Marine Corps Captain who succumbed to cancer in 1995.

Tim still has the ’81 game ball, which was signed by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy, and the Chief of Naval Operations at the time.

“We did it to show spirit and teamwork, and it was successful because we had strong buy-in from each of the classes in 13th Company,” said Tim. “During my four years in 13th Company, the only year we didn’t run the ball to the game – understandably enough – was in 1983, when the Army-Navy game was played in Pasadena (California). I assume that was the only break in the annual event since ’81.”

In 2011, we overhauled the Ball Run and had the opportunity to change things up and run a new route to FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. It took a lot of work, but being in our nation’s capital afforded Lucky 13 the opportunity to integrate some collaboration with alumni from the USNA Classes of 1981 and 1984 and even some sightseeing in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

This year, the game will be played at M&T Stadium in Baltimore. We are going to run through our nation’s capital. We plan to meet with congressmen as we run the ball around D.C. before heading to Baltimore.

30 years and still going strong on the 13th Company Army-Navy Ball Run!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Letter to My Former Self: 2nd Lt Colleen E. Randolph

In the "Letter to My Former Self" series, USNA graduates lay out the advice they would give themselves as midshipmen based on their experiences as junior officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. This week's letter was written by 2nd Lt. Colleen Randolph, a 2014 graduate who is currently attending the Basic School.

If someone would have told me, on Induction Day July 1, 2010, that I, Colleen Randolph would graduate and earn a Commission as a 2nd Lt in the United States Marine Corps, I would have told them that they were out of their mind. Not because I was against joining the Marine Corps, but because at that point, I had never given any thought to becoming a Marine. It sounds a bit cliche, but hindsight is always 20/20, and I wouldn’t change one thing about my Naval Academy experience and journey to become a Marine. I hope that this letter provides, if nothing else, a bit of advice to those of you who wish to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. In addition to providing a bit of perspective to those of you who have never considered the Marine Corps as an option.

My name is 2nd Lt Colleen Randolph and I graduated on May 23 with the great class of 2014. While at the Academy I was a member of the 20th Company, 4 year member of the Women’s Varsity Swimming Team, 3 year member of the Club Triathlon Team and an English major. Following tossing my cover into the air, I had the opportunity to join the Marine Corps Triathlon team at Naval Base Point Mugu for the Armed Forces Triathlon Championships and then proceeded on Basket Leave. I was stationed at the Academy, TAD with the Physical Education department during the summer and reported to The Basic School on September 2nd as a member of Golf Company. While I am still very much at the dawn of my journey as a Marine Corps officer, I feel as though I already have countless lessons to share.

1. The Naval Academy isn’t just a great place to be from; it’s a great place to be. This is one thing that I wish I learned a lot earlier on in my Academy experience. I’ve heard this phrase multiple times even prior to accepting my appointment. But the fact of the matter is, while the Academy will have days where it is challenging, emotional and frustrating, you will never again be able to walk to 7th wing to visit your best friends, head out to downtown Annapolis for post-practice breakfasts or have your meals prepared and laundry done for you. I spent a lot of time saying, “as soon as I make it to youngster year” or “I can’t wait to get out of this place” before I realized that right where I was was the best place to be. Don’t become cognizant of that fact too late.

2. The Marine Corps shouldn’t be a mystery. For a good amount of my time at the Naval Academy I never considered the Marine Corps as an option because I truly had no idea what selection as a Marine Corps officer entailed. All the professional knowledge in the world can’t teach you more than a Marine Corps officer. Reach out! Make contact with that Marine Corps instructor who teaches Spanish, or Company Officer you’ve seen roaming around on OOW. They would love to talk to you about their Marine Corps experience and what it could mean for you. Luckily for me, a Marine Corps officer happened to be my Officer Rep for the Triathlon team and inspired me to look into it a little more. Reach out to that 1/C squad leader from Plebe summer and ask them what their experience has been. As a midshipman I tended to think that it was the Academy’s job to provide me with that information, but in truth it is your responsibility to look at all of your service selection options, make an informed decision, and talk to officers on both the Navy and Marine Corps side. That being said, if you’re still unsure, go to Leatherneck and learn for yourself! Leatherneck is a fantastic tool for both preparation and introduction to the Basic School. You’ve already been on your fleet cruise and exposed to surface warfare, submarines and aviation on Protramid. If you’re unsure, give Leatherneck a try. However, Leatherneck will not provide an all-encompassing view of being a Marine Corps officer. That’s when a supplementary MAGTF cruise or contacting your Marine Corps mentor will come into play.

3. There is no Marine Corps mold. Sometimes I get funny looks when I tell people I’m a Marine or when I was still at the Academy and told someone I selected Marine Corps. There are stereotypes for every service. Normally this comes from your very first interaction with a Marine or what you’ve seen on those awesome Marine Corps commercials in between touchdowns at Navy games. I fell into this trap all too quickly. At 5’8, 130, with a mess of blonde hair and a permanent smile, I’m far from the rigid jaw line and barrel-chested Chesty Puller.  I didn’t believe I fit the mold. The fact of the matter is, there is no mold. When they say the Marine Corps is a people-based organization, they mean it. While you must have certain characteristics to be a Marine - those being honor, courage and commitment in addition to being physically fit - there are so many different types of people in the Marine Corps, and that is what makes the organization so great. As soon as you begin to realize that you have a slew of personal talents to contribute and make the organization better, you will thrive. Don’t discount the Marine Corps because “you’re not that type of person”. Marines are some of the highest caliber of people I have ever had the opportunity to work with, but no one fits into a mold. Additionally, the Marine Corps will give you a multitude of options.  This is a huge part of what drew me to make my decision. My first choice was not to drive ships or fly planes. I wanted to be a Marine first and then work in a specific field. Look into all of the MOS (military occupational specialty) options, perhaps they will suit your strengths and talents better and in turn you will be able to serve more effectively.

4. Enjoy basket leave, while remembering what lies ahead. Do something incredible with your basket leave, but don’t be the guy that comes back and can’t pass the PFT because you lost sight of what the ultimate goal is. You have a whole new set of physical standards as a Marine Corps Officer, don’t let basket leave or TAD let you get lazy. Take the opportunity to get back in shape after grad week and before TBS. First impressions, especially your physical fitness, are incredibly important in the Marine Corps. On a separate note, make sure you use your savings wisely! Be prepared to spend upward of $1000 on additional uniform items, boots, food and gear within your first month at The Basic School.

5. Don’t just “embrace the suck,” soak everything in. “Embrace the suck” is a widely used motto to describe life at The Basic School. And while I do think it is important to embrace all things that come with training to be a Marine Corps officer, I have also heard a quote that I think is much more prevalent. “Prepare as though you are about to meet your Platoon tomorrow.” The Basic School, much like the Academy, will present challenges for everyone. From confusion, to monotomy, to physical boundaries, to academic endeavors and peer leadership, it is meant to challenge everyone in order to prepare you for the challenge of leading Marines. Every aspect is designed to test you. But the instructors, the Staff Platoon Commanders and Enlisted Staff advisors are not only 100% invested in your development as an officer, they are 110% invested in the young men and women you are about to lead. They will be tough on you because the situations you are about to face will be tough and you will have to rise above those situations. What you invest in TBS has resounding effects on people’s lives. Begin each day with the thought of your Marines in mind and you won’t have to “embrace the suck.” You’ll thrive in it for them.

6. Use the tools you were given. There are many avenues to becoming a Marine Corps officer. The Naval Academy only graduates 273 Marine Corps officers,  about 1/7th of the officers that will go through The Basic School each year. Chances are, you will be one of the few officers that is a Naval Academy graduate in your platoon. I made the mistake early on in thinking I was less prepared than my OCS, PLC and OCC counterparts. The truth was that I had just been prepared differently and for a longer period of time. The Naval Academy gives you an incredible amount of tools to be a successful Marine Corps officer, but you actually have to use them! For example, you know how to work well under pressure, push others to achieve their goals and balance social, physical, academic and military aspects. Don’t be boastful or ashamed of your commissioning source. At first it will be the only thing your platoon has in common and at times it will feel as though you’re the odd one out of those bonding conversations. Much like “during Plebe Summer” stories, you’ll hear a lot of “during OCS” stories because people search for commonalities and shared experiences. Listen in! But in the end, we’re all Marine Corps officers. We are all training to be leaders of Marines. When the day comes for you to meet your Platoon, they couldn’t care less about where you came from, but they will wonder if you are competent, fair and if you are going to take care of them. That is what you will get out of The Basic School, regardless of your commissioning source.

7. What goes around comes around. I once heard a phrase tossed around by my peers that NAVY stands for “Never Again Volunteer Yourself.” This is not true in any aspect of the Marine Corps. Be the one that steps up to take the watch, carry the heavier load or buy the guy next you a coffee. It goes a long way. Just like no one gets through the Academy alone, no one gets through The Basic School alone. Your platoon is a team and you will have at least six months, if not a whole career, working together. The Marine Corps is a very small organization and you’re likely to work with someone from your platoon or someone like them again. You’ll find that “on the strength of one link in the cable” comes into play in all aspects of your experience.

8. Learn the language. Remember when you came for Plebe Summer, and you didn’t know what “hitting a bulkhead” or “rack races” were? Be prepared to feel the same way about all of the acronyms the Marine Corps uses. Adding to your confusion will be all of your new uniforms.  Instead of being “just a plebe," you’ll be “just a boot lieutenant” with a whole slew of responsibilities and new regulations to upkeep. Acquire this knowledge through two pathways. The first is to read. Commandant's reading list, Marine Corps times and all of the publications you were given in practicum classes. I wish that I had payed more attention and started reading earlier on to avoid simple mistakes. The second is to lean on those in your platoon who are prior enlisted. Pick their brains about the fleet and how the Marine Corps really works. In addition, ask them about their families, how balancing life in the Marine Corps works and ask for their critiques. They are quite literally the best of the best and are dedicated to becoming leaders of Marines. The prior’s know what types of officers they would have liked to have had lead them. Become one of those officers.  (Note to self, no one in the Marine Corps likes the term “shipmate” or “hooyah.”)

9. Don’t sweat the small stuff; you normally can’t control it anyway. This is something I find myself and my peers doing a lot at The Basic School. Where will I be stationed? What will I be doing? What will my job be? These are all questions that rise in the back of my mind prior to every evolution. The fact of the matter is, I can’t control where I’m stationed or how many slots are available for each MOS. Thinking about it all the time is stifling. Do your very best, challenge yourself and bring others along with you. The needs of the Marine Corps change with every new conflict, effort and policy. You have no control over external factors, but you do have the ultimate task of controlling how you react to them. You will make mistakes. But, making mistakes at The Basic School and learning from them will be infinitely better than failing when you have Marines under you.

10. Take pride in your appearance. Rolling out to 0515 practice and throwing on your uniform with major bed head won’t work anymore. I am so thankful that I received advice on hair prior to The Basic School because I was definitely a culprit of the “midshipman messy bun” at the Academy. Marines are expected to be squared away 100% of the time and appearance will matter! Make sure you are physically fit and prepared to spend a little more time on your hair and shave in the morning. Look the part and act the part, because you will be expecting your junior Marines to do the same.
Semper Fi, BEAT ARMY!
2nd Lt Colleen E. Randolph, USMC

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

USNA Midshipman Selected For Marshall Scholarship

Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Andrea Howard of Norcross, Ga. was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, Tuesday, December 2. This highly-competitive academic scholarship provides two years of postgraduate study at an United Kingdom university.

Howard is a double-major in political science and Arabic and will pursue a Master of Arts in science and security at King’s College London. This semester, she is the commander of the 125-member Drum and Bugle Corps, the midshipman director of freshmen training at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, an alto soloist in the Gospel Choir, and a Trident Scholar. 

Howard will commission as a Navy ensign upon graduation from the Naval Academy and will train as a submariner in the U.S. Navy after completing her studies at King’s College.

“We’re very proud of Midshipman Howard and everything she has done to earn this recognition,” said Dr. Andrew Phillips, Naval Academy Academic Dean and Provost. “She will make an exceptional Marshal Scholar and an exceptional naval leader. We’re pleased that the Naval Academy has had a part in shaping her preparation for those roles.”

Marshall Scholarships were founded by an Act of Parliament in 1953 and commemorate the humane ideals of the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan). Goals of the program include enabling future leaders of America the opportunity to study in the UK, to help scholars gain an understanding and appreciation of contemporary Britain, to contribute to the advancement of knowledge at Britain’s centers of academic excellence, and to motivate scholars to act as ambassadors throughout their lives thus strengthening British-American understanding. 

Approximately 40 Marshall Scholars are selected each year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Navy Gets Fired Up!

Midshipman, faculty and staff rallied together Sunday night in anticipation of the upcoming Army/Navy Game.

Navy enters one of the longest standing rivalries in college football with 12 consecutive wins. The pep rally, held at Farragut Field, reminded both players and midshipman what the game means to the military community and the nation.

“Every player on that field and every student in both student bodies would give their lives for the 70,000 people in the stands, the 30,000,00 people watching at home and the 330,000,000 fellow citizens across the U.S,” said Commandant of Midshipman, Capt. Bill Byrne. “No other student body; no other college football game represents that. That’s why it is America’s game.”

Navy has remained unbeaten in this rivalry for the past 12 match-ups. It was a popular consensus at the pep rally this streak will continue with number 13 on Saturday.

“I’m thrilled to be able to be here and to be able to be at the game when they beat Army for the 13th time,” said Midshipman 1st Class Katrina Herrera. “There’s a lot of of chatter coming from Army, so I’ll be happy to be there when Navy wins number 13.”

Mids watched 40-foot flames shoot into the night sky while burning a mule effigy, spray painted ‘Beat Army’, to finish the pep rally. As the semester draws to an end, mids are focused on two things.

“I’m focused on getting everything done for my classes and really knocking out my finals so I can focus on Army,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Daniel Gonzalez, linebacker, Navy football team. “One of my best friends plays for Army. He’s a cadet, a wide receiver and I’m a midshipman and a linebacker. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the field.”

During the previous 114 years, Army has won 49 games while Navy has won 57, with 7 games being tied. Navy’s current 12-game-win streak is the longest in the rivalries’ history.

Friday, December 5, 2014

USNA Represented On Orion Launch

On board this morning’s successful launch of Orion were several items from the Naval Academy donated by Distinguished Professor and Robert A. Heinlein Chair Ken Reightler.

NASA photo by Bill Ingalls

Reightler, Naval Academy Class of 1973, former NASA astronaut, and former Lockheed Martin executive, donated a USNA command coin, an Aerospace Engineering Department sticker, a sticker from the academy’s rockets club and a patch from the NASA Launch Challenge Capstone project to represent the Academy’s long history of being on the forefront of space exploration.

The Naval Academy is alma mater to 53 NASA astronauts, the most for any academic institution in the country.

NASA photo by Bill Ingalls

“We look forward to our graduates playing an important role in the journey to Mars and beyond,” said Naval Academy Public Affairs Officer Cmdr. John Schofield. 

After splashdown and recovery of the capsule by U.S. Navy ships, the items will be stored at the Johnson Space Center where they will be certified as having flown on Orion. They will then be returned to the Naval Academy to inspire another generation of space explorers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A New Original: The Brigade Bowl

MIDN 1/C Gabby Dimaapi

Here at the Naval Academy, everyone is an athlete. We endlessly support our Division I and Club Athletics. This year with the help of Midn 2/C Samuel Peters and Miguel Nieves, our two regiments’ sports bosses, the intramural sports program was better than in years past. Peters served as the Brigade’s “Intramural Scott Strasemeier” to help encourage vigorous competition between companies and team pride.

“The real problem was intramurals,” says Peters, the 1st Regiment Intramurals Sports Boss, a midshipman position that serves as the manager for the Intramural Program. “It was lacking the passion and drive that characterizes Navy Athletics, and Naval Academy Midshipmen, both on and off the field of play.”

This deficiency was evident all the way up to the highest levels of the chain of command, with the Commandant of Midshipmen, Capt. William Byrne, deciding to revamp the intramural sports program at USNA at the beginning of the 2015 academic year. The program was given more funding, and its instructions were rewritten by the Intramural Officer, LT Sharp, and the incoming Intramural Officer, ENS Sposato. New responsibilities were divided, the number of sports was reduced to increase team size, and the fields were updated in a new, larger layout.

“We created a whole new scoring and reporting system from scratch, and implemented the brand new refereeing system, coming up with new ways to do accountability and establishing protocols for that accountability,” said Peters.

During the intramural season, the 6th Company Jackalopes dominated the fields, but at the end, the champions for each sport were

Basketball: 2nd Company “Honey Badgers”
Racquetball: 20th Company “The Roaring Twenties”
Ultimate: 18th Company “Yard Dogs”
Soccer: 5th Company “Rocks”
Flag Football: 23rd Company “Fighting Hellfish”

This semester, midshipmen had one more chance to be the best of the best intramural warriors during the inaugural Brigade Bowl. It began as an idea from 1st Regiment XO, MIDN  1/C Jonathan Lucas. The Brigade Bowl was created, planned, and organized by MIDN 1/C Togasii Peko to be the final competition between 1st and 2nd Regiments. This “super bowl” of intramural sports was a way for the midshipmen to see the importance and great improvements to the intramural program.  The best intramural athletes  from each company played on their respective regiment teams in ultimate frisbee, flag football, and soccer, which helped give the spectators a wide range of familiar faces and people to cheer for. Finally, the regimental commanders were slated as head coaches to solidify the identities of the two regiment teams.

On the days leading up to the Brigade Bowl, team captains were chosen for each sport, practices were held, and the hype increased. There were also three referees, two line judges, and one field referee per sport. Spirit spots were shot and edited by Caleb Smith and the Multimedia ECA on the Yard. Their technical skill and creative direction produced three successful videos for advertisement. Team jerseys were ordered and each athlete proudly wore their company’s respective patch.

On Friday, November 14th, spectators surrounded Farragut Field to cheer on their favorite athletes while enjoying hot chocolate and Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The event kicked off with the National Anthem sung by Midn 1/C Evelyn Rios, the running of the torch by Ryan Hill, the Brigade’s physical missions officer, and an opening speech from the enthusiastic commandant, Capt. Byrne. While 1st Regiment won the flag football game, 2nd Regiment proved to be victorious, and their commander Kricket Masters proudly claimed and drank from the Brigade Bowl Cup.

The Brigade Bowl was ultimately a success thanks to all of the people who helped make a new idea into reality.

“Looking at the season from a big picture perspective, I think we can say ‘Mission Accomplished,’” said Peters. “I believe the commandant and his staff were blown away by our involvement in intramurals and the amount of passion that was poured into that program, and we can be proud of that as a Brigade.”

Capt. Byrne stressed that the mission of intramurals is to provide leadership opportunities to midshipmen while dealing with the demands and stresses of competitive play.

“The intramurals program is a way to further the development of these traits by continuing that team and competitive atmosphere among midshipmen and providing a fun stress relief for our busy lives,” said Peters. “The leadership that we as a staff saw out there on the intramural fields is a testament to the fact that the program is working, and that these traits are being developed, and we are proud to say that we had a hand in it.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

USNA Spreads Holiday Cheer in Annapolis

Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy’s 6th Company and representatives from the Annapolis chapter of the Salvation Army gathered in Bancroft Hall Dec. 2 for the 24th annual Giving Tree lighting ceremony.

 Each year the midshipmen decorate a holiday tree in the rotunda of Bancroft Hall with paper angel ornaments provided by the Salvation Army. Each paper angel has the first name, age, gender, and wish list of an underprivileged child in the local community. Contributors can choose to remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase gifts for the child or children represented.

"The Giving Tree is another way the Brigade of Midshipmen and Naval Academy family are giving back to the local community,” said Midshipman 1st Class Manuel De La Cruz. “We are always willing to help and serve others. With the help of the Salvation Army, this Christmas season will be extra special for many children around the Annapolis area."

The academy received more than 500 angel ornaments for the tree this year. Naval Academy midshipmen, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to spread holiday cheer to hundreds of children in the greater Annapolis area.

"As a brigade, we are eager to give back to the community in any way possible in exchange for the continuous support that we receive year-round," said Midshipman 2nd Class Riley Miller. “The happiness and joy that the Giving Tree brings are a true representation of the holiday spirit.”

After choosing an angel, the donor purchases a gift for that child and places it unwrapped under the tree. The donations will be picked up by the Salvation Army Dec. 12 to be wrapped and distributed to the children Dec. 22, just in time for the holidays.

"Being here for 18 months now, I am more and more convinced that selfless service is what defines the Brigade of Midshipmen," said Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Bill Byrne. "Through their actions here throughout the year, they are truly being excellent."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Faces of the U.S. Naval Academy

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, our next featured midshipman is MIDN 2/C Samantha Billy, granddaughter of a World War II Navajo Code Talker.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sponsor Families Provide a Home Away From Home

During the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, it is predicted that more than 20 percent of the Naval Academy’s Midshipmen will not make the journey back home. However, for these Mids, there is still a chance to celebrate with friends and family.

The United States Naval Academy’s (USNA) Sponsor Program provides more than 2,200 Midshipmen with a home away from home. The surrounding community of Annapolis knows the sacrifices of those attending USNA, and more than 750 families are enrolled in the USNA Sponsor program, to be there for Midshipman when they need them.

Midshipmen come to USNA from all over the world. From the day they arrive, they are immersed in a new environment.  The transformation and development into the USNA standard of a naval officer takes years of training, and is challenging.  Having a family support network nearby can prove to be helpful during difficult times.

“Families sponsor Midshipman when they enter USNA as plebes (freshmen),” said Rose Clark, USNA Sponsor Program Coordinator. “These families know the Midshipmen are away from home, some for the first time, and do what they can to help support and assist them here at USNA and in their personal lives.”

In many ways, sponsors take on a second-family-type role, encouraging the Midshipman in their private lives, supporting them in their activities and acting as a liaison between Midshipman and their families.

“These families selflessly open their homes to the Midshipman,” said Clark. “I see them on the bleachers at sporting events, I hear the appreciation of home cooked meals and on the opposite end, I hear the sincere gratitude from families knowing their children are being looked after by people who genuinely care.”

In years past, the radius of the Sponsorship Program was measured 22 miles from USNA’s Chapel dome. Due to the demand of families wanting to sponsor, it has been extended to 30 miles. The program’s popularity spread mostly through word of mouth.

“We had heard about the program in 1994 from someone who was a sponsor,” said Ken Ochs, a 20-year sponsor and retired Captain of the Baltimore County Fire Department. “Sponsoring has been very rewarding for my wife Kathi and me. We have sponsored two or more Midshipman every year and we keep life-long connections with them. When our only son was married, officers, who were like his older siblings, came in from all over for his wedding.”

Sponsors receive mandatory training from USNA to facilitate and encourage success of sponsors with their Midshipman.

“The training sponsors receive has a kind of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for aiding a Midshipman,” said Clark. “These families understand this is not a typical learning environment, there are rules for conduct outside the walls of USNA. That being said, these families do as much as they can to make sure that it feels as much like home as possible.”

“Most years we have had one or two stay with us over Thanksgiving, and that’s not even including their classmates and friends” said Ochs. “We want to be able to give them that feeling of the holiday. They are like family to us. Even after they spend holidays and the years at USNA, we keep in contact with them and we watch them progress in their lives and careers. The program is equally rewarding for us as it is for them.”

Plebes entering USNA are able to request a sponsor. Interested in sponsoring a midshipman?  Visit the Sponsor Program website or the Sponsor Program Facebook site for more information.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

MAG Helps Get Annapolis Students Excited About Physical Fitness

Members of the Midshipman Action Group have been working with the Mighty Milers program to help get young students excited about physical fitness.

The Mighty Milers is an after school running program sponsored by Annapolis Recreation and Parks. The 6-week program introduces elementary school students to physical fitness through after school training.

The program culminates in an annual track meet in November. The midshipmen from MAG helped train the students, and they – along with the USNA Marathon Team – helped cheer the students on during the Nov. 12 meet.

“We engaged the kids in running drills and games with the goal in mind of running a mile at the track meet,” said  MIDN 1/C Blake Hamilton. “All the kids completed their mile at the track meet.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Service Selection Wrap-up

At noon today, the midshipmen of the Class of 2015 found out their service assignments - which communities they will serve in after graduation in May. It's an important milestone for the mids that puts them one step closer to the fleet jobs they've been training for since I-Day, and arguably earlier than that.

Though some of the midshipmen already knew their assignments prior to today (specifically subs and other nuclear options), for the majority of the midshipmen this was a highly anticipated event, and within their company spaces they made quite a celebration of it.

As of today, this is the breakdown for the Class of 2015:

Surface Warfare:  251
Submarines:  137
SEAL:  30
Explosive Ordnance Disposal:  15
Navy Pilot:  243
Naval Flight Officer:  79
Medical:  12
Supply:  11
Civil Engineering Corps:  5
Intel:  10
Information Warfare:  7
Information Professional:  4
Oceanography: 1
Navy Total: 805

USMC Ground:  177
USMC Pilot:  89
USMC Flight Officer:  5
USMC Total: 271

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Dan Bohannon

MIDN 1/C Dan Bohannon was selected to be a naval flight officer.

"It wasn't until first class year that I seriously considered putting aviation community in my top preferences,” said Bohannon. “Specifically I found being a weapons systems officer on board an F/A-18F Super Hornet to be fascinating and really enticing. The advancement opportunities and bonuses in the community also looked great, and since I'm looking to make a career in the Navy, it was definitely a great fit for me."

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Annie-Norah Beveridge

MIDN 1/C Annie-Norah Beveridge was selected for the submarine community.

“I really look up to all of our predecessors and I am thankful that they have paved the way. The females that I met during my youngster submarine cruise were incredibly capable and found great meaning in their jobs. I don't doubt that we will face challenges, as any junior officer does, but we are ready to face them head on.”

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Jonathan Lucas

MIDN 1/C Jonathan Lucas, 1st Regiment executive officer, will be a submarine officer.

He was selected earlier this year, but still enjoyed watching his company mates find out their service selections today.

"I actually selected in early April, but it has been exciting to be here while everyone else found out what they were chosen for after working so hard. After this, it’s going to be a little hard to focus with being excited about what is ahead of us after graduation.”

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Shannon Cuthbert

MIDN 1/C Shannon Cuthbert, 12 Company honor advisor, was selected for Surface Warfare.

"I am really excited to get out into the fleet and be a naval officer. I am looking forward to doing what I have been training for. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have had since coming to the Naval Academy. Being here has changed me so much and made me a better leader."

Both of Shannon's parents were grads of the Class of 1985. Her father flew SH-60 helicopters and her mother was an intelligence officer. Shannon is the first SWO in the family.

"My parents are really excited. Both of them are really excited I chose what was best for me. They both helped by giving me information about how their naval career was which helped define my decision, but in the end, I made the final decision.

I wanted SWO because I think the community has a great mission and because of the leadership opportunities and the many possibilities there are in the surface warfare community."

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Ian Sharbel

This is MIDN 1/C Ian Sharbel, who was selected to be a Marine pilot.

“I’m pretty excited right now. It’s been a long time dream. My father and grandfather were both Marines, and many other members of my family are Marines so it feels great to be carrying on the family tradition.”

Who are you going to call first?

“I’m going to call my dad first. I think he’ll be pretty proud and excited. He knows that I wanted to do this, and he has been a big supporter from the beginning, in coming here and all throughout the four years.”

What’s next?

“Now I am going to focus on preparing for the Basic School, enjoying time with some of these guys that I’m classmates with, and making the most of these last couple months of camaraderie that we have been building the last few years.”

Any advice for lower classmen about selecting a service?

“Talk to your mentors, and try to understand the different communities and opportunities that are available. Understanding what you are getting into and the overall community structure can go a long way in helping you find the right community for you.”

Class of 2015 Service Assignment: MIDN 1/C Zane Markel

The long wait has come to an end. The Class of 2015 found out their service assignments today. This is MIDN 1/C Zane Markel, who was chosen for the SWO-Information Warfare option. He will enter the fleet as a SWO but, once he earns his warfare pin, will transfer into the Information Warfare community.

"I didn’t even know what information warfare was before I came here," said Markel. "I had heard it mentioned during my plebe summer, and when I went to look it up, I couldn’t find any information about it at the time.

"Once I learned about it, I realized right away, wow … this is a brand new area of warfare. We need people who are going to decide how we are going to fight this type of warfare, and I wanted to be part of that. This has been the number one goal of mine for the past three years. Everything I have done has been to try to get into information warfare and to try to be a good information warfare officer.

"I feel fantastic. I don’t have any words for it.”

Mid Sailors Save The Day

By Gary Lambrecht

For skipper Brandt Clemons ’15, leading Navy’s victorious offshore sailing crew on 44-foot Gallant in last month’s Annapolis Yacht Club Fall Series made for a very satisfying weekend.

But Clemons will always remember a most unusual twist when he savors the Midshipmen’s achievements of October 4 on the Chesapeake Bay. That day, as Gallant was more than halfway to a comfortable win in the 26-mile race, the Midshipmen were forced to change course, and hours of seamanship training became quite useful.

One minute, Clemons was at his perch in the rear of Gallant eyeing The Fish – the only boat posing any hint of a threat to the Mids’ commanding position. The next minute, Clemons saw the lower lifeline of the B-32 snap at the port aft quarter. Then, he watched two crew members tumble into the bay.

Instantly, the Navy crew shifted gears and went into a different kind of action.

“As soon as the man-overboard call happened, I completely forgot about the race. We were shocked at first. I’ve never seen anyone go overboard like that,” Clemons said.

“My driver [helmsman Charlie Morris ‘16] said, ‘What do we do?’ I told him, ‘We’re going to get ’em. Tack the boat.’ At that point, it just became reaction and rote memorization for us. Everybody had a job to do. We’ve done so many man-overboard drills that it’s almost beat into you. The crew was like an orchestra.”

Instead of being laser-focused on crossing the finish line first, the Mids, who had practiced dozens of man-overboard exercises, were now faced with a rescue operation as their top priority. They quickly realized that neither Fish crew member treading water was wearing a flotation jacket. In addition, both wore full, foul-weather gear on what was a cold, wet, windy day, with waves of three to four feet on the bay.

Wasting no time, the Mids tacked, then backed the jib to perform a quick stop, then dropped the sails and coiled all the sheets to avoid fouling the prop when the engine was started.

From there, Gallant motored back to the sailors, who had separated and were floating on opposite sides of the boat. Clemons threw a line to one of them, and the Gallant crew pulled him aboard. A Navy crew member tossed a flotation device to the other sailor, who then was pulled back on board The Fish.

The whole rescue took approximately four minutes. The exercise happened to be timed by the alert crew of a sistership Naval Academy boat crewed by Clemons’s teammates that had been trailing Gallant.

That precious time initially cost the Mids, who, after interrupting their race to aid their competitors, ended up in fourth place. But the loss proved temporary. The AYC regatta committee granted Navy’s request for a redress hearing and awarded the victory to the Mids a week later.

The rest of the Navy crew included Trevor Voegele ’15 (executive officer), Tilghman McCabe ’15 (jib trimmer), Nick Satterlee ’17 (jib trimmer), Daniel Panchevre ’17 (pit), Matt Finley ’16 (mast) and Donal Hanlon ’16 (bow).

Efforts to contact the chief judge from the regatta committee and members of The Fish crew were unsuccessful.

Jahn Tihansky, head coach of the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing team, beamed with pride at the way the Mids’ diligent practice time had reaped such a meaningful benefit.

“These guys train their butts off. They do things like 500-mile training sails to Nantucket,” said Tihansky, who estimated the team has done about 40 man overboard drills. “The fact that they were able to do this as quickly as they did is a testament to how important this training is to them.

“I’ve sailed for 40 years. I’ve been involved in three man-overboard situations personally. I know of people who have been lost at sea and not recovered. The good thing is we have standard operating procedures. We are required to wear life jackets, which is a requirement in intercollegiate sailing, but not [offshore sailing] that involves the general public. You never know what kind of tiger is hiding behind the tree.”

Clemons said the incident provided a sharp reminder of the danger involved in his chosen sport. A native of Farmington, MO, Clemons had never sailed before arriving at the Academy.

“Half of my crew has been sailing for a year or less. We do these long summer sails. When I was a freshman, we sailed to Bermuda, and we sailed through Hurricane Irene. We were 300 miles off the coast of anything,” Clemons said.

“If somebody goes overboard there, he’s going to die if you don’t get to him in time. The Coast Guard can’t get there in time. The crews take this very seriously,” he added. “At first, we didn’t think [The FISH rescue] was a big deal. I mean, the Chesapeake Bay isn’t the Bering Strait. But when we got back [to the academy] after the race, the coaches told us, ‘No. This is what could have very easily been a huge tragedy.’

“Look, we really wanted to win that race, and we knew we had sailed well enough to win the regatta. But there wasn’t a single member of the crew who resented how [the rescue] caused us to finish fourth. We got to pull two guys out of the water. Whether we got the redress or not, there’s nothing better than that.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Season at the Navy Lodge

The holiday season is rapidly approaching. For a season of family and fun, keep the Navy Lodge in mind for holiday guests.  

“Navy Lodges are the perfect place for guests of military members to stay during the holidays,” said Navy Lodge Annapolis general manager, Malerie Shipe-Meyers. “Navy Lodges offer a great value with our spacious rooms, kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi and many other amenities we offer. We also provide a complimentary breakfast in the morning, a manager’s reception, in-room coffee and premier guest service.”

Navy Lodge guests will experience a variety of room types to include family suites, with cable TV and DVD player, as well as kitchenettes with a microwave and full size refrigerator.  Navy Lodges are equipped with guest laundry facilities, vending areas and playgrounds for the little ones. As an added convenience, pets can stay at many Navy Lodges. Please contact the Navy Lodge regarding pet policies.  

To make a reservation for any of the 39 Navy Lodges worldwide, call toll free at 1-800-628-9466 (NAVY-INN) or log onto For other military lodging options, go to

Monday, November 17, 2014

USNA Chinese Culture Club Visits New York

By MIDN 2/C Wesley Yuan

USNA’s Chinese Culture Club visited New York during the weekend before Veterans Day. We visited the American Legion Post 1291 in Chinatown, where they have the country's greatest number of Chinese-American members.

The American Legion is an organization that helps provide homes for homeless veterans, helps veterans financially, and provides educational and career opportunities for veterans.

This is the second time the midshipmen of the Chinese Culture Club visited this post, but the first time we joined them in their annual parade in Chinatown.

They gave us a tour of their auditorium and recreational spaces in Chinatown and treated us very well. We marched with them in the parade and attended their ceremony to honor veterans at the Lt. Kimlau Memorial Square, named after a U.S. Air Force bomber pilot of Chinese descent who fought during World War II.

Afterward, we ate lunch with them and presented their post commander with a U.S. Naval Academy banner as a gift.