Monday, June 29, 2015

USNA Promotes, Bids Farewell to 85th Commandant of Midshipmen

The U.S. Naval Academy held an end of tour and promotion ceremony for Rear Adm. Bill Byrne in Dahlgren Hall June 29.

Prior to the promotion ceremony, Marine Corps Col. Stephen Liszewski, a career artillery officer and 1990 academy graduate, officially relieved Byrne of his duties and became the second Marine to hold the title of Commandant of Midshipmen.

During the ceremony, Byrne was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) and presented with his third Legion of Merit.

Byrne, a native of San Francisco, Ca., and a 1987 academy grad, has served as Commandant of Midshipmen for two years, leading and inspiring future Navy and Marine Corps officers with his personal motto, “Be excellent. Be excellent to yourselves, be excellent to each other, and be excellent to this place.”

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

"This is a really great but bittersweet day," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. "We are saying goodbye to a good friend, a gifted leader, and a fantastic Navy family. Bill has a bigger-than-life personality and his campaign of ‘being excellent’ has really resonated with the midshipmen during his time here. Everyone here today could not be more proud to stand next to him and watch him go to the next level.”

After his promotion, Rear Adm. Byrne offered a few words of encouragement and gratitude to the midshipmen, faculty, staff, and family members in attendance.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

“We would all do well to just have faith in ourselves and those around us,” said Byrne. “No matter who you are or what role you play in the development of these superstars, just have faith that the example you set is the one you intend.”  

Byrne is scheduled to relieve Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) later this year.

CNFK is the U.S. Navy's representative in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and provides leadership and expertise in naval matters to the ROK to help improve institutional and operational effectiveness between the two navies and strengthen collective security efforts the region.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

USNA STEM Hosts Engineering Design Camp

By MC2 Nathan Wilkes

The Naval Academy's Summer Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program hosted an engineering design camp for rising high school juniors June 15 - 19 in Rickover Hall.

During the five-day STEM program and competition, the students discovered new engineering concepts, explored problem solving, and learned the basics of engineering design and functionality.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

 USNA midshipmen and faculty provided hands-on experience and education in many mechanical engineering design activities including the hex-bug maze and the “extreme-mobile”.

“This week we’ve held two major design competitions pitting small teams against each other for an audience of parents and fellow students,” said Mark Murray, USNA professor of mechanical engineering.  “For the design competition we have two events, the hex-bug maze and the “extreme-mobile”, which is a mobile catapult system. There is also a competition for presentations and other students learning STEM-related topics in free choice modules.”

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

The USNA STEM Center is focused on addressing an urgent national need for more young people to pursue careers in STEM fields.

“It’s important, for high school students especially to get a feeling for what engineering is all about, to open up some avenues and choices that they may not have seen and spark their interest,” said Murray. “STEM is all about showing the students a vast array of opportunities and helping them to discover an interest in these areas.”

Hosting a myriad of programs throughout the year, STEM encourages young students to push the boundaries of their creativity and desire to make the world a better place.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

“I really enjoy science and math, so this camp was a nice opportunity to learn and also see the opportunities at the Naval Academy,” said Richard Chen, a rising junior from New Orleans. “Doing these sorts of projects with friends always makes for a great time. You get a lot of ideas with this type of work, and even if they sometimes don’t work out, you still get a good laugh.”

During their time on the Yard, the STEM students were also given a tour of the Academy and learned about a few of the opportunities available to them if they decide to attend USNA.

“The Naval Academy is definitely a place that I’m interested in applying to in the future,” said Greg Exum, a rising junior from Los Angeles. “The fact that the education is free and you get the privilege of serving your country is something I am really interested in.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Midshipmen Learn Lessons of Leadership at Historic Gettysburg

Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy attended the 2015 Gettysburg Leadership Encounter in Gettysburg, Penn., June 20-21 to help prepare them for challenges they may face during the upcoming academic year.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

The two-day retreat is designed to give midshipmen in leadership positions the opportunity to develop their leadership and decision-making skills and for them to discuss their new responsibilities as leaders of athletic teams and the brigade.

"We bring varsity team captains and company commanders together to prepare them to take command of their team or company," said Cmdr. Arthur Gibb, chair of the Leadership and Research Department. "I think this is one of the ways we get this cohort of midshipmen to really start thinking about and visualizing what their responsibilities will be as commanders and captains."

Seminars and group discussions centered on the themes of loyalty, standards, and action. The midshipmen discussed decisions made during the Battle of Gettysburg and how they related to issues of loyalty to an individual and to an organization.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

"The reason we started coming to Gettysburg was to build on the tradition of the 'staff ride,'" said Gibb. "'Staff ride’ traditionally is where midgrade officers would come to a historical battlefield after studying a battle. It puts them in the middle of the battlefield, so they can channel the energy and the history of what happened on that battlefield and use what they learned in their discussions."

Midshipmen retraced the steps the men the Confederate and Union Armies took in the Civil War during Pickett’s Charge, and evaluated the decisions the leadership made during this significant event.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

"This experience has been eye opening," said Midshipman 1st Class Angie Cleveland, captain of the USNA women’s outdoor track team. "I feel the one most important part about this retreat is for us to be unified with how and what we want from our peers. We have one mission and sometimes we forget what that mission is. There is sometimes a divide between team captains and company commanders. Being here has helped us understand what we are all at the academy for. We all have the same mission: to become officers in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps."

"I think we ask a lot from the team captains and the company commanders," said chemistry professor Dr. Christine Copper. "I think we owe them to prepare them and give them real concrete information and examples so when something comes up, they are ready to act and deal with that situation whatever it may be."

Monday, June 22, 2015

USNA Hosts Summer Seminar 2015

The United States Naval Academy hosted the 2015 Summer Seminar program for potential academy candidates May 30 – June 18.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

The seminar, which runs for three separate weeks in the month of June, is a fast-paced, six-day preliminary application experience offered to rising high school seniors. Summer Seminar teaches students about life at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and military training play equally important roles in developing our nation's leaders.

“It is important for rising seniors to make the most of their summer and explore their future educational opportunities,” said Karin Dolan, one of the candidate guidance counselors in the USNA Admissions Office. “By attending our summer program, the applicants can really see if they enjoy Academy life and make an informed decision on where to apply to, and ultimately attend college.”

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

The Summer Seminar program offers opportunities for rising seniors to challenge their limits, get outside of their comfort zone, and learn new things about themselves, the military, and the Academy.

“The summer seminar is a really applicable experience of how things work here at the academy,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Matt Tumelty. “Everything the rising seniors experience during their time here - the physical training, military knowledge, and hands-on academics - really shows what the academy is all about.”

During their stay, students experience all aspects of the Naval Academy including the physical and academic program, and midshipman life. Participants live in Bancroft Hall, have their meals in King Hall, and participate in academic and leadership workshops taught by Naval Academy faculty and Navy and Marine Corps officers. Students receive an overview of Navy and Marine Corps service options throughout the week and during a Sea Trials-inspired activity.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

“Each participant has an opportunity to see firsthand what the academy has to offer through its exceptional academic, athletic, extracurricular activities and leadership training programs,” said Dolan. “By staying in Bancroft Hall, dining in King Hall and utilizing the athletic facilities, students get to experience all aspects of USNA and how it would be to attend college here.”

For those students who are interested in attending the academy after their high school graduation, the Summer Seminar program also acts as the preliminary application to USNA. During their stay, the students have the chance to meet with admissions counselors and ask questions or get clarification on the admissions process.

“The whole experience is really neat and I’m learning a lot about the academy and thinking about applying,” said Cory Michell, a Virginia native. “The seminar is fantastic and gets tougher but more rewarding each day. I feel that I can really see myself coming here in the future.”

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

During the session, the students also have an opportunity to complete the Candidate Fitness Assessment, which is part of their USNA application. They also attend a wide variety of academic workshops that provide a glimpse of the curriculum offered at USNA.

“This is all pretty brand new to me but it has been a great experience,” said Chris Gouin, from Atlanta, Ga. “I’m interested in coming to the academy to study engineering, and this is a great way to get a feeling for what the academy does and how they teach here.”

The Naval Academy Summer Seminar is offered exclusively to young men and women who have just completed their junior year of high school. Selection is dependent upon the overall qualification of the student and the academy’s need to meet complete geographic representation.

Find more information about how to apply at the Summer Seminar program website.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

USNA Superintendent Teaches Value of Hard Work to Young Students

At the United States Naval Academy, the best and brightest men and women from across the U.S. and abroad are trained, developed, and molded into future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps. This four-year journey is the chance of a lifetime to develop the skills needed to serve their country in the greatest possible capacity.

The key to candidacy at the academy is simple: achieve good grades in challenging college prep courses, hone your competitive spirit by participating in athletics, and sharpen your leadership skills by serving your community.

Curious of the opportunities and achievements of midshipmen and officers at the academy, a 5th and 6th grade combination class at Howard Pence Elementary School in San Diego, Calif., reached out to Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter to ask advice about setting and achieving goals.

The students, taught by Ruthann Womer, are learning about the military and the importance of setting short and long-term goals for themselves. Womer is the wife of retired Capt. Bob Womer, one of Carter’s company-mates from the Class of 1981.

“They wanted to write to find out more of how they can set goals for themselves and work to achieve them,” said Womer. “We do a lot of work on goal setting, and even though they are still young, they are beginning to make the connection that if they set their mind to accomplish something, they can be successful.”

Appreciative of their curiosity, enthusiasm, and interest in the academy, Carter personally responded to each of the letters he received from the class. In each response, Carter offered positive feedback and shared important life lessons that he has learned throughout his career in the Navy.

“To achieve your goals, you’ll need to study hard, exercise and play sports, and live up to the ideals of integrity and honor,” said Carter. “This means you have to be honest, trustworthy, help your family and friends, and try to do your very best all the time.”

Carter also offered some advice for the students that expressed an interest in joining the Naval Academy in the future.

“It’s important at this young age to understand that there are institutions, like the Naval Academy, that not only favor service above self, but the importance of working hard at school and being the best you can be,” said Carter. “Keep these things in mind, and know that the Navy is also a lot of fun. You get to travel the world, get a great education, and can learn how to navigate ships and submarines, fly airplanes, or serve in the Marine Corps.”

Along with the response letters, Carter sent a personalized copy of the book “The Naval War of 1812” by Dr. William Dudley and Dr. Scott Harmon. He also sent the class photos of the academy, his command portrait, and other Naval Academy mementos.

“It was wonderful, and believe me it had an enormous impact on their lives,” said Capt. Womer. “For a small group of kids living on the border, those small gifts meant a lot, and the responses to their questions really sparked ambition and dreams.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Annapolis Welcomes French Frigate L'Hermione

A large crowd braved the heat and humidity June 16 to welcome to Annapolis a replica of the 18th century French frigate L'Hermione.

Photo by Lou Cox

L'Hermione was the ship that carried the Marquis de Lafayette from Rochefort, France, to Boston in 1780 with the welcome news that the French were sending arms, ships and men to help the colonists fight the British.

The symbolic return of L’Hermione pays homage to Lafayette and this historic relationship between France and the U.S.

“To see the Hermione here is really the representation of the legacy of great maritime nations,” said U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. Carter participated in the opening ceremony at City Dock, along with  the mayors of Annapolis and Rochefort, representatives from the French Embassy, and other dignitaries.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

Carter said that to some, L'Hermione represents the quality of freedom and America’s enduring friendship with one of its oldest allies.

“We have a strong connection with our United States Naval Academy and the naval academy of France,” he said. “We have a wonderful international exchange program here, and this year we will be welcoming another French student for a four-year matriculation.”

Carter took part in the subsequent wreath-laying ceremony at the French American Revolution monument at St. John's College. The monument honors the French soldiers who gave their lives during the American Revolution.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

L'Hermione sailed 3,819 miles to reach Yorktown, Virginia, where she began her journey up the East Coast. The trip across the Atlantic took 27 days.

L'Hermione will continue travelling up the eastern seaboard, stopping in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Greenport, Newport, Boston, Castine, and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, before heading home to France.

Monday, June 15, 2015

USNA Superintendent Talks Aviation with British World War II Hero

U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter met a former British Navy officer and World War II aviator June 10 during a brief trip to the United Kingdom.

Carter traveled to the U.K. to meet with his counterpart at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Commanding Officer Capt. Henry Duffy, and discuss ideas and best practices for training. While at the BRNC, he attended a working group tasked with developing the theme and agenda for the 20th Naval Academies’ Superintendents’ Conference, which will be held in Annapolis, Md., next year.

But Carter also had the opportunity to meet a different kind of counterpart, Capt. Eric “Winkle” Brown, at the Royal Air Force Club in London. Brown performed a world record 2,407 carrier landings during his career, including the first carrier landing of a twin-engined aircraft. (Carter holds the record for carrier landings among American aviators with 2,016.)

Photo by Sam Churchill

Brown served as a Fleet Air Arm pilot during World War II and is that organization’s most decorated living pilot. His honors and awards include the Order of the British Empire, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a thrill of a lifetime to meet not just a hero of the United Kingdom or a hero of World War II – I would say he’s a world hero,” said Carter, who described the 96-year-old aviator as having a “spark for life and a love for freedom.”

They talked about Brown’s involvement in interrogating German war criminals after World War II as well as some of the scariest moments in his career. He was one of only two survivors from the crew of the British escort carrier HMS Audacity, which was sunk by German torpedoes just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Photo by Sam Churchill

“He’s very short in stature – that’s why they call him ‘Winkle’ – and he talked about how that probably saved his life more often, because he was small and agile,” said Carter.

During the conversation, Carter asked if Brown had any regrets in life. His reply: only one – that in a career full of aviation “firsts,” he didn’t beat Chuck Yeager in breaking the sound barrier.

He did, however, fly 487 different types of aircraft throughout his career as a pioneer test pilot, more than anyone else in history.

“In an era when aviation safety was being written every day, very few test pilots who flew more than a couple hundred airplanes survived, and yet he did,” said Carter.

Photo by Sam Churchill

Carter said Brown loves American aviation and is a member of the Golden Eagles, an elite group of early and pioneer naval aviators, founded by World War I-era U.S. pilots.

“It was really exciting to meet somebody who is a representation of the best in aviation,” said Carter.

Carter will next travel to China where he will meet with his counterpart and other leadership from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

USNA's Leatherneck 2015: Marines Making Marines

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

More than 375 midshipmen entering their final year at the United States Naval Academy are spending 4 weeks at Marine Corps Base Quantico for the Leatherneck evolution.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

Leatherneck’s four-part program gives first class midshipmen the opportunity to explore Marine Corps officer development. During the month at Quantico, midshipmen are evaluated on leadership, physical training and military skills. By incorporating the designs of Officer Candidate School and The Basic School (TBS), it is used as the primary evaluation for Marine Corps candidates at USNA.

“The atmosphere  Quantico has to offer for this type of training makes the location ideal,” said Maj. Brett Bohne, officer in charge for block one of the Leatherneck 2015 program. “TBS here at Quantico is where midshipmen choosing Marine Corps service will attend as soon as they leave USNA. We are familiarizing them with the location, equipment, facilities and resources, all while mentoring and instilling the ethos of a Marine Corps officer.”

The evaluations for possible candidates helps a cadre of experienced and seasoned Marine Corps Officers assess interested midshipmen for service selection during their first-class year at USNA. Of the 425 midshipmen showing interest in Marine Corps Officer service selection, only about 250 will be selected from the 2016 graduating class. The rapid adaptability and flexibility of their training at Leatherneck will be a key component in their transition to becoming 2nd lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

“The Marine Corps was my number one choice coming to USNA and still is,” said Midshipman 1st Class Margo Darragh. “The Marine Corps has had a lot of influence on me these last three years at USNA. I wanted to do this training because I want to experience more what the culture of the Marine Corps is like. Everyone here wants to see if they have what it takes.”

Each week the academic and physical training progressively changes to incorporate and build upon itself to further shape midshipmen into Marine Corps officers. The grueling main field training exercises include leading and participating in fire teams to solve complex problems, commanding and controlling teams during fire team attacks, and a 5-mile obstacle endurance course. The activities build on each other, testing the performance of previous tasks at a larger more complex scale.

“It’s getting better every week,” said Midshipman 1st Class Bradford Mills. “It takes some adjusting while having the Marine Corps courtesies instilled in us. Now we are really starting to learn what it means to be a Marine Corps officer. There’s a way that you act and you treat the people you are leading. This goes for when you are leading squads and platoons in fire team exercises or even when you are eating your meals. We are learning what servant leadership really means.”

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

Whether or not the participants become Marines, the program helps the midshipmen become better leaders.

“They get a great taste of what the Marine Corps is about,” said Maj. Jacob Crespin, staff platoon commander for Leatherneck. “They have ideal examples of both officers and staff non-commissioned officers leading them through this training. They get great instruction of Marine Corps leadership, accountability for their actions, and accountability for their peer’s actions which will directly affect them in their careers no matter what service they select.”

Find more photos at the USNA Flickr site.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

"Incredible Victory": Remembering Midway

This week we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Midway which occurred June 3-7, 1942 and was one of the most significant battles in U.S. history. The victory of the U.S. over Japan in this battle turned the tide of the Pacific war and arguably changed the course of world history.

The Naval Academy's Battle of Midway memorial sits just outside the second wing of Bancroft Hall. It is dedicated to "the day when the American spirit reached unparalleled heights and, in doing so, saved democracy for the western world."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

French Tall Ship Hermione To Visit Annapolis

A replica of the French tall ship Hermione, which played a pivotal role during the American Revolution, will be moored in Annapolis June 16-17.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), right,
provides a warm welcome to the French tall ship replica the Hermione
in the vicinity of the Virginia Capes.
(Photo by MC1 Michael Sandberg)

The original Hermione was the ship that brought French General Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1780 to inform Gen. George Washington the French army was on its way to assist the United States in the war effort, paving the way for victory.

The symbolic return of the Hermione will pay homage to Lafayette and this historic relationship between France and the U.S. Throughout June, the Hermione will make several stops in Virginia (including Yorktown where victory was declared) as well as Baltimore and Philadelphia. In July, the ship will continue up the East Coast. For a complete schedule, visit the Hermione Voyage 2015 web site.

We will post more information on events surrounding the arrival of the Hermione as we get closer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

USNA Superintendent Contributes Some "Tophatters" History to the National Air and Space Museum

Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter was at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., this morning to deliver a leather flight jacket he donated to the Smithsonian.

USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter gives his Tophatters flight jacket to 
Dr. Alex Spencercurator at the National Air and Space Museum in front of a 
display featuring the VFA-14 Tophatters. (Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell)

The jacket is from his time as commanding officer of the VFA-14 Tophatters, a U.S. Navy fighter attack squadron. VFA-14 were established in 1919, making it the oldest active squadron in the U.S. Navy.

USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter talks with Dr. Alex Spencer, 
curator at the National Air and Space Museum. (Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell)

The squadron is featured in a current display in the museum - a mock up of an aircraft carrier ready room. One of the mannequins in the display is wearing Carter's Tophatters flight suit, which he had previously donated to the museum.