Monday, August 31, 2015

Midshipman Spends Spring Semester Abroad in Madrid

Throughout the 2015 spring semester, Midshipman 2nd Class Melissa Felman was one of a few midshipmen to spend a semester away from the academy, studying abroad at a civilian university. She elected to study at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, through the study abroad program IES (International Education of Students).

MIDN 2/C Melissa Felman and MIDN 2/C
Matthew Metzdorff

Felman was one of four academy students to spend the spring semester in Madrid. While abroad she took courses in her major, political science, as well as Spanish history and language courses, all taught completely in Spanish. One Spanish language course was an intensive grammar class which complemented the education she got being immersed in the Spanish culture.

"I had a great professor who really encouraged stepping out of your comfort zone and speaking as much as possible,” said Felman.

Her mission was not only to improve her Spanish skills but also to enhance her cultural knowledge. She enjoyed learning about different aspects of Spanish culture, especially about politics, history, and the economy.

“I learned all about how Spain’s political system works in my classes and got to see a lot of rallies and protests on the street," she said. "I also unfortunately saw firsthand how Spaniards my age were struggling financially because of the severe unemployment rates in Spain that especially affect young adults."

Aside from schoolwork in another language, Felman was also able to have a unique experience living with a host mom who only spoke Spanish.

“At times it was challenging to communicate because I’m still improving my Spanish, but we learned how to live together and had a good system going,” she said. Her host mom provided two meals a day of authentic Spanish food, much of which was new to her.

MIDN 2/C Melissa Felman and her friend at a Real Madrid soccer game

Felman spent almost every weekend during her four months in the country traveling to different cities throughout Spain. She went to the cities of Segovia, Salamanca, Toledo, Valencia, Aranjuez, Chinchon, Granada, Sevilla, and Barcelona.

“Valencia, known for the traditional dish paella, was definitely my favorite town. It was pretty small and relaxed and had a great beach," she said. "The people were very friendly."

While in Spain she also decided to take part in two extracurricular activities. One involved going to an elementary school once a week and helping to teach English to a class of third graders. The other weekly program involved meeting with a group of both Spanish and American students to improve their respective foreign languages. A half hour would be spent discussing current events or debating an issue in Spanish, and a half hour would be in English so that the students could listen and learn from each other to practice their speaking.

“I’m so glad I went to Spain because I learned the more socially accepted ways of saying things, rather than just what students in America are taught in school,” she explained. She is now able to comfortably carry on a conversation in Spanish whether it’s with professors in class, salespeople in stores, or servers in restaurants.

MIDN 2/C Melissa Felman in Parque del Oeste, near her
Spanish school

“It was awesome when Spaniards would mistake me for being Spanish because then I knew I didn’t stand out as an American and seemed competent enough with my speaking skills," she said. “I feel extremely lucky to have been given this opportunity to travel, learn, and meet a new, diverse group of people, and I know that everything I took away from my semester in Spain will only help me become a better officer.”

Felman plans to pursue a career in naval aviation but would like to continue her Spanish studies whenever possible.

“I’ve always considered doing something with language in the military. I’d love to have the opportunity to use Spanish for the Navy.”

Friday, August 28, 2015

Class of 2017 Commits to Serve

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

During the first two years at the Naval Academy, midshipmen have the option to choose a different path for their education and career. They can leave the academy, free and clear of any obligation to serve on active duty.

Upon entering their third year, however, 2nd class midshipmen are greeted with a serious long-term decision: to continue their studies as midshipmen for two more years and commit to at least five years of active duty service.

The 1,132 midshipmen of the Class of 2017 signed their “2 for 7” agreements Aug. 21. The term “2 for 7” indicates their decision, after two years of academy training, to devote the next seven years to the Navy or Marine Corps.

“As a company officer you see that they go from the hopeful young enthusiastic plebe to the mature, serious second class who realizes the gravity of the situation,” said Marine Maj. Richard Ruiz, 3rd Company officer. “They realize that all they have worked hard to achieve over the course of two years has amounted to this one moment that will change their life forever. The choice to dedicate their life to the Navy of Marine Corps becomes real.”

Through professional training, studying, athletics and extracurricular activities, the transformation starts to take hold and the midshipmen inevitably look forward to their futures.

“One of the largest changes I see is a sense of purpose derived from both maturity and the decision to commit to something much larger than oneself,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Chosnel J. Raymond, 2017 class president. “As plebes, yes, service was at the forefront of our minds, but the reality of commitment and all that it entails was not there.”

The academy celebrated the “2 for 7” signing at a commitment dinner Aug. 25. The mids presented the massive scroll, signed by each midshipman, to Commandant of Midshipmen Col. Stephen Liszewski.

“The commitment you have made for a life of honor is important for many reasons, but mostly because of what you will do after you graduate,” said Liszewski, addressing the mids. “You will most likely operate in a realm of the harshest circumstances known to man. In order to be followed in that environment, you have to be men and women of honor and leaders with character. By vowing to live by those principles here at USNA, you are preparing yourselves for what lies ahead.”

Members of the Class of 1967 – the “Link in the Chain” class that graduated 50 years ahead of the Class of 2017 – attended the dinner, including keynote speaker retired Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr.

“The decision and commitment you have made to be a leader in an all-volunteer force will give you tremendous opportunities in your careers, but will also give great satisfaction and sense of purpose,” said Ryan. “This is just the beginning, and looking out at you all in uniform reminds me personally of why I served and why this country is great.”

Photo of the Week: International Exchange Students

This fall semester 18 midshipmen from six countries join the Brigade as part of the semester exchange program.  Since 2006, over 169 international midshipmen have participated in this program and have helped promote better understanding and long standing relationships with our allies.

Bottom row (L to R):
André Merklinger (Germany), Robert Hädicke (Germany), Lisa Bensch (Germany), Tristan Vergez-Larrouget (Germany), Gregoire Brisou (France), Alexandre Bouillon (France)

Middle row (L to R):
Enrique Niemann (Chile), Pablo Mendoza (Chile), Joshua Commodore (Canada), Tomoharu Kansaku (Japan), Hiroki Yamashita (Japan), Clemente Chaparro (Chile)

Top row (L to R):
Javier Pastrana (Spain), Álvaro Cabello (Spain), Ignacio Sánchez (Spain), Julián García (Spain), Fernando Rosety (Spain), Yago Fernández Novo (Spain)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Midshipman Action Group Kicks off Mids For Kids

The Midshipman Action Group recently held a kickoff event for its annual "Mids for Kids" program, inviting local teachers for a USNA tour and social event at the Midshipman Activities Center on the Yard.

Mids for Kids is a community outreach program with more than 250 midshipmen volunteers who visit local elementary and middle schools throughout the week to help the teachers with the children.

"Mids for Kids is the biggest MAG program on the yard," said MIDN 2/C Rose Gerszewski. "Midshipmen tutor, help with homework, instruct in bands, run PE classes, and bring their expertise to clubs such as Robotics Club."

Over the course of the academic year, midshipmen collectively spent more than 2,900 hours volunteering at 14 different schools.

"During the spring semester, we began measuring our impact with a new metric we call 'lives touched' by estimating the number of students we helped during our time in the classroom; this number came out to over 12,500," said Gerszewski.

As midshipmen return to the Yard for the start of a new academic year, many are excited for their simultaneous academic year through the Mids for Kids program. They can't wait to get back to their students!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brigade Summer Training Action Shot Contest

It's finally here. That moment you've been waiting for that you didn't even know you were waiting for.

The Brigade submitted tons of action shots from all their awesome summer training activities, from international travel to wilderness training in Alaska to flying in F/A-18s. They were all fantastic, and made those of us who aren't midshipmen kinda wish we were. We think you'll agree. Check it out.

And the winner is ...

"Zero Gravity Flight" by MIDN 2/C Austin Scigliano!

MIDN 2/C Billy Walker floats while on his NASA
Johnson Space Center internship. (Photo submitted by MIDN 2/C Austin Scigliano)

But the awesomeness doesn't end there. Check out all of the finalists below:

MIDN 1/C Timothy Wu received a Rhino F/A-18 ride while on his aviation
cruise. (Photo submitted by MIDN 1/C Timothy Wu)

MIDN 3/C Nathan Bermel stands on the peak in the Delta Mountain Range
in Alaska during a 0330 sunrise while on a NOLS Alaska mountaineering
trip. (Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Nathan Bermel)

MIDN 1/C Bryce Colceri kayaks at sunrise in Angra dos Reis, a small
subcity in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Colceri was there as part of his LREC
to Brazil. (Photo submitted by MIDN 1/C Bryce Colceri)

"Cloud Surfing" - MIDN 2/C Brian Cully flies in an MH-60S helicopter above
the San Diego sky during PROTRAMID. (Photo submitted by
MIDN 2/C Brian Cully)

"When climbing the Great Wall on foot isn't hard
enough," says MIDN 1/C Josh Gong while on
LSAP to China. (Photo submitted by MIDN
1/C Josh Gong)

While on a NOLS mountaineering trip in Alaska, MIDN 1/C Mason Galat,
3/C Sam Butler, and 3/C Austin Treubert gear up to ascend G.O.A.T. mountain
at the Divide Basin. (Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Peter Hogan)

MIDN 2/C Anthony Gallozzi, Mattison Gossett, Ryan Joyner and Maxwell Lee
relax in the buoyancy of the Dead Sea while on their STEM Arabic intensive LREC
to Israel. (Photo submitted by MIDN 2/C Courtney Mason)

"Paddles Up!" - MIDN 3/C Marina Muenster, 3/C Mitch Guhl, 2/C Kyle Milchuck,
3/C Will Stamm, 2/C Chris Evans, 1/C Lonnie Fields, 3/C Adrienne Wang,
3/C Natalie Sava, 3/C Lauren Schrock kayak during a NOLS Alaska trip.
(Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Marina Muenster)

While on summer cruise, MIDN 3/C Josh Xu, Miles Oakley, and JB Lee
participate in bomb suit relays. (Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Marcelo Norcini)

MIDN 3/C Luke Redito gives the thumbs up as an MH-60S helicopter does
landing operations on the back of his DDG over summer cruise.
 (Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Luke Redito)

MIDN 2/C Karen Quiles and Maddy Manhertz take in the view at the
Picos de Europa while they were on a STEM study abroad trip to Spain.
(Photo submitted by MIDN 3/C Ricardo Roman)

Fall Formal Parade Schedule

The Brigade of Midshipmen's fall semester parade schedule is now available.

Event Date Time Location
Formal Parade Sept. 4 4 p.m. Worden Field
Formal Parade Sept. 18 4 p.m. Worden Field
Formal Parade Oct. 2 4 p.m. Worden Field
Formal Parade Oct. 23 4 p.m. Worden Field

The public is invited to attend without charge. Please call 410-293-1520 for general information about the parades and gate access.

Parades are a visual presentation of the military discipline, professionalism and teamwork necessary to succeed as a member of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and have been a part of Naval Academy training since its establishment in 1845. 

The Brigade of Midshipmen marches from Bancroft Hall to the Naval Academy parade field, Worden Field, accompanied by the Naval Academy Band and the midshipmen Drum & Bugle Corps.  On Worden Field, the Brigade performs the manual of arms, renders honors to the senior officer or civilian dignitary present, and passes in review before the official party and guests.

Visitors may enter through Gate 3 (Maryland Avenue – recommended) or Gate 1 (at the intersection of King George Street and Randall Street) and will be required to show a picture ID.  All bags are subject to search. Vehicles without a Department of Defense or USNA credentialed driver or passenger are not permitted to drive onto the academy grounds. 

Visitors are encouraged to park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (price to park is $5) and ride the circulator bus to the academy.  Vehicles with handicapped placards or license plates may enter through Gates 1 or 8.  

NOLS Alaska Summer Training

Check out the awesome video MIDN 3/C Nate Bermel put together showcasing his NOLS Alaska summer training trip. NOLS - the National Outdoor Leadership School - takes students of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions and teaches them technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Q&A with USNA's New Commandant of Midshipmen

The Trident staff sat down with Naval Academy’s Commandant of Midshipmen Marine Col. Stephen Liszewski (USNA ‘90) to discuss his new role and what it’s like to be back at the academy. 

How does it feel to be back at the Naval Academy?

It is great!  I have always felt that the Naval Academy is the heart of the naval service.  The yard is a beautiful national landmark, but what makes it truly special are the people who work here and the midshipmen who develop into leaders over their four years here.  

How often were you able to return to the yard after graduation?  How have things changed for today’s midshipmen? How have they stayed the same?

Unfortunately, due to operational demands and where I have been stationed, I have not been able to come back to Annapolis as often as I would have liked.  My family lives in Maryland so sometimes I have been able to get to the yard while visiting family in the area.  I was also able to come back for weddings and a few football games when my schedule allowed.  As for how things have changed, midshipmen are busier and more connected than ever before.  But the basics of what we do here have not changed.  We still make leaders who are ready to join the fleet just as we have since 1845.

Did you ever imagine coming back as the Commandant when you were a midshipman?

Never. The Commandant was always a Navy Captain when I was here.

In what ways did your Naval Academy experience benefit you in your career as a Marine Corps officer?

Midshipmen quickly learn to operate effectively and efficiently in a stressful environment.  They learn to organize and work in teams to solve problems.  Finally, midshipmen take on board a mission-focused attitude.  All of these lessons have been valuable throughout my career.

Do you have a personal experience where your academy training helped you as a Marine?

The physical toughness I developed as a Navy rower has been helpful throughout my career.  More importantly, my experiences at the boathouse taught me how to place the goals of the team ahead of personal aspirations.  That lesson has been incredibly important as a Marine.

In what ways do you think your time in the Corps will benefit you during your tour here as Commandant?

Marines have an innate bond with their fellow Marines.  We call this the “esprit de corps,” and it manifests itself in everything that we do.  Marines are eager to help a fellow Marine and are fully committed to upholding the high standards of our service.  I hope to bring these things to the Brigade of Midshipmen.

In your opinion, what trait is most important when it comes to being a good leader?

Character.  An officer’s character is their fate.

What do you hope to accomplish during your tour as Commandant?

I want to ensure that we are producing leaders of character for our Sailors and Marines in the fleet.  I hope to inspire the Brigade to be relentless in their pursuit of excellence as they are ready to lead Sailors and Marines in harm’s way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Night on Farragut

The mids celebrated the start of the school year Aug. 24 with the annual "First Night on Farragut Field" activities. Check out the awesome video, courtesy of MIDN 1/C Rylan Tuohy:

USNA Grads Named as Recipients of Navy's Stockdale Leadership Awards

The Navy recently announced the 2015 Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award winners, both 1996 Naval Academy graduates.

Cmdr. Matthew J. Duffy, commanding officer of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112 (VAW-112) is the Pacific Fleet recipient.

Cmdr. Anthony S. Grayson, commanding officer of USS Providence (SSN 719), is the Fleet Forces Command recipient.

The awards will be presented during a ceremony later this year.

Cmdr. Anthony S. Grayson, one of two recipients
 of the 2015 Stockdale Leadership awards.

Did you know?  Since 1999 - when USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter received it - there have been 18 USNA grads out of 34 Stockdale Award for Leadership recipients. Since 1981, when it first started, there have been 39 USNA grads out of 69 total recipients (one year there was only one recipient.)

The award was established in honor of Vice Adm. Stockdale whose distinguished naval career symbolized the highest standards of excellence in both personal conduct and leadership. It is presented annually to two commissioned officers on active duty in the grade of commander or below who are serving in command of a single unit and who serve as examples of excellence in leadership and conspicuous contribution to the improvement of leadership in the Navy.

A Naval Academy graduate and pilot, Stockdale ejected from his A-4E Skyhawk over North Vietnam in September 1965 and was held prisoner and frequently tortured until February 1973. He received the Medal of Honor in 1976.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Photo of the Week: Ethopia Cultural Awareness Trip

MIDN 2/C Katie Jan, 1/C Alexandra Laureys, 2/C Scott Davids, 2/C Mary Cate Scully, 1/C Caroline Zotti, and 2/C Alberto Mestre with USNA's Center for Regional Studies Director Mark Reese socialize with members of the Hamar tribe during a traditional bull-jumping ceremony in Ethiopia. LREC Ethiopia explored the formation of religious, national and ethnic identity in a culturally multivalent African nation that is a major ally to the United States. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

USNA’s International Programs Office Provides Mids Global Perspective

USNA recently held a meet and greet event welcoming the 12 international students of the Class of 2019.

These 12 midshipmen hail from 10 countries, including Albania, Cambodia, Georgia, Korea, Malaylsia, Montenegro, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.

International students in the Class of 2019

International engagement is a top priority in the U.S. Naval Academy's development of midshipmen.

As well as interaction with international midshipmen and foreign exchange officers at the academy, midshipmen have opportunities to study abroad and participate in cultural immersion trips to foreign countries. The USNA International Programs Office is in charge of facilitating these opportunities.

Established in 2005, the International Programs Office’s goal is to enhance the international knowledge and proficiency of midshipmen. Through three primary areas of focus - better language skills, better regional understanding and appreciation of other cultures - the programs strive to create an out-of-classroom experience that will further enhance the midshipmen’s cultural understanding.

This year, IPO will send 450 midshipmen to 40 countries. Whether studying at foreign naval academies or civilian universities, or attending short faculty-led explorations, midshipmen travel to cultivate a global perspective.

Mids studying abroad in South Korea

“We have a goal that half the students who come through USNA will have some opportunity to study abroad,” said Timothy Disher, director of International Programs. “They find out more about themselves and who they are as an American. By being abroad, they are constantly being challenged by how dynamic the experience is. We find that when they get back, they have validated that USNA is the right place for them and have a better understanding of what service above self is.”

First- and second-class midshipmen are eligible to participate in the study abroad programs. These programs support the seven languages taught at the academy: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. The IPO helps midshipmen complete all necessary work prior to their departure.

“Throughout the entire year, we write orders, obtain official passports, acquire visas, and provide best practices and lessons learned if there are students who have been to the location before,” said Disher. “Every program has a purpose. Whether it is academic, for language immersion or for professional development, we want midshipmen to pull the most from their experience as possible.”

Cultural immersion trips are a highlight for midshipmen who have experienced it.

“The biggest thing I brought back was the relationships among people,” said Ensign Philip Song, a recent graduate of USNA who studied abroad during his senior year. “I went to China to study Mandarin and towards the end I was able to tell where people were from in China based upon terms and how they spoke. I was fortunate enough to be able travel a bit and constantly speak the language to interact with everyone. I was always adapting and learning, and it was one of my best semesters while attending USNA.”

Meet and greet with new international students

Up to 60 students from foreign countries can attend the Naval Academy for a four-year education. Since 1863, more than 475 international students from 71 countries have studied at USNA.

“USNA currently has 59 foreign students from 28 countries,” said Disher. “These midshipmen are treated no different than any other, and when they graduate, they return to their country of origin.”

The IPO also invites officers from different services and navies to teach the midshipmen.

“The Brigade is a very diverse group, so the staff should be too,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Macedo, Brazilian Navy and navigation instructor at USNA. “Midshipmen join the academy eager to learn new experiences of how different countries and different navies deal with their particular problems. By bringing in foreign officers, we add to the melting pot of culture and experience, all with a leadership background. I think the diversity of the staff and brigade really mirrors the diversity of the U.S.”

With a goal of 500 midshipmen studying abroad a year and the newly added STEM programs opening in countries like Israel, Turkey, Korea, Singapore, and Sweden, the IPO’s staff believe it’s an all-hands effort that will further increase the success of international engagement at the academy.

“My hope is that it is not just the International Programs Office that is trying to facilitate international engagement,” said Disher. “In order for this to be successful, it really has to be all across USNA’s different programs. It’s a team effort. I think this generation of officer candidates really sees the value of creating and working with established and emerging partners.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Midshipmen Adventures in Alicante, Spain

Midshipmen 1st Class Helena Cheslack and Samantha Thomas departed in January for a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain, without having more than one face-to-face conversation with one another.

Upon waiting for their two separate flights to Alicante, they spoke about their level of Spanish proficiency (conversational ... barely). They boarded their respective flights, and right before MIDN Thomas took off, she sent a message to her new acquaintance, MIDN Cheslack, because she didn’t know who else would possibly understand how she was feeling at that moment. “This is actually happening ...”

MIDN Cheslack responded with, “I can’t believe it! I’ll see you in Madrid.”

Not much was expressed for the first couple of days of being in Alicante, mainly because the orientation sessions mixed with the jet lag made the experience feel like a blur. But after settling into the city and each being placed into a homestay family, the two began to truly take in the experience of being in Spain.

In the first week, the professors took the new students up to the top of a castle on a small mountain in the heart of Alicante called El Castillo de Santa Bárbara. El Castillo became a frequented spot throughout the semester and, as the tallest monument in the area, the reference point whenever the two got lost.

The study abroad program began classes in the last week of January. MIDN Cheslack and Thomas each took a few classes that were spoken in Spanish. The following week, courses at the Universidad de Alicante started, and these proved to be much more challenging. These particular courses were spoken in Spanish as well, however, they were taken with locals. The course load was a bit more intense, the language much faster, and the grading system more rigorous.

"This University course was one of the best experiences I could have asked for, because it improved my Spanish listening and speaking abilities so much,” said Thomas.

Cheslack met a couple of Spanish locals in her oceanography classes at the university who became some of her best friends in Spain. Through them, she learned a lot about youth in Spanish culture.

Both midshipmen lived with homestay families and grew comfortable with hearing Spanish 24/7. Through staying with their families, they got to learn about Spanish culture in several different ways: eating habits and routines, dance, childcare, jobs, etc. They generally spent the weekdays with their families while in school and often travelled on the weekends to other parts of Spain, including Granada, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.

In these places, they saw La Alhambra, Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias, Montserrat, and much more. Through travelling to different parts of Spain, they were able to see how vastly different one area can be from the next. From the fresh fish markets in Valencia to hiking the coastline on the Mediterranean, they learned about the diversity of the different regions of Spain. This travel also made Alicante feel even more like home.

During spring break in Alicante, they both went up to Galicia in the northwestern corner of Spain in order to complete a portion of the Camino de Santiago. This trip was made thousands of years ago by St. James the Apostle and is now followed by various pilgrims from around the world. Many people complete the journey for religious reasons, and many complete it for sport or pleasure. The reasons for choosing to do the Camino may be different for each person, but both midshipmen agreed that it was one of the best experiences of the entire semester abroad.

At the end of the trip, each midshipman had members of their families come out to Spain to visit. Cheslack’s mother came out, and together they explored Alicante and Valencia. Thomas had family members come out to adventure around Alicante and Barcelona. It was “a great way for them to assess what they had learned during the semester in Spain. They could share with their families what they knew about the city and the country.

Midshipmen Cheslack and Thomas shared much of their experiences abroad in Spain with their Spanish families, American families, and each other. While they were excited to get back on a plane to the U.S. right before Ring Dance, they both felt like they were leaving something behind. There is something so special about Spanish culture that cannot be found in any part of the U.S., and with new friendships, confidence, and desire to explore, they were able to experience this difference.

Monday, August 17, 2015

USNA Class of 2019 Completes Plebe Summer

Thousands of family members and friends arrived at the U. S. Naval Academy to witness the culmination of the Class of 2019’s Plebe Summer training during Plebe Parents' Weekend Aug. 13-16.

Plebe Parents' Weekend provides an opportunity for parents to reunite with their sons and daughters after the intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer that leads into a midshipman's freshman year.

Plebe Summer, which began July 1, is a demanding, fast-paced boot camp-style orientation that begins four years of preparation of midshipmen before commissioning as naval officers. It demands physical and mental challenges with the purpose of developing leadership ability, motivation, moral strength and physical skills.

Of the 1,191 men and women who began Plebe Summer six weeks ago, only 13 voluntarily dropped from the program over the course of the training. This being one of the lowest attrition rates of recent history, the academy staff attributed the success to a focus on safety and well-planned training.

“The Class of 2019 has worked hard and done extremely well during their six weeks here at the academy,” said Commandant of Midshipmen Marine Corps Col. Stephen Liszewski. “This year we had one of the lowest attrition rates that we have seen in a long time and by no means has the summer been easy. We have pushed them, molded them, they have endured and earned their place here.”

The Class of 2019 is composed of 859 men and 324 women from all over the United States and includes 12 international students from around the globe. Ninety-two percent of the class competed in varsity athletics during high school and 32% come from college and post-high school preparatory programs.

“We are proud to say that this new class is one of the most culturally diverse and highly competitive that we have ever had at the academy,” said Vice Adm. Ted Carter, USNA superintendent. “This is also the largest class of women and varsity athletes that we have ever had.”

Often time, parents say they don't recognize their sons and daughters right away, as in just over a month most of them have drastically changed. They say they stand taller and straighter, often say "sir" and "ma'am" and use Navy terms, acronyms and abbreviations with ease.

"This being the first time that we have been away from our child, it’s been really hard and a huge adjustment for our family,” said Wynette Bodily, mother of Midshipman 4th Class Kalib Bodily. “We couldn’t be more proud, and we are so excited to see him.”

During the four-day weekend, parents watched the plebes’ formal parade, toured the dorms at Bancroft Hall, and meet with faculty and staff members to get a glimpse of the life at the Naval Academy.

“We are incredibly excited and this is all really a lot to take in,” said Mary Colton, mother of Midshipman 4th Class J.P. Colton. “It’s great to have the opportunity not only to support him during this huge time in his life, but to be able to get involved in some of the things that the plebes experience just makes you feel better about the whole thing.”

The Class of 2019 is scheduled to join the entire Brigade of Midshipmen during a reform ceremony Aug. 18. After the ceremony, plebes will move to their permanent company spaces in preparation for the academic school year.

Friday, August 14, 2015

USNA Superintendent Honors World War II Vet, USNA Volunteer

The superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy honored Mr. Dave Diamond, USNA museum volunteer, for his many years of volunteer work at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum Aug. 14.

Diamond is a World War II veteran who enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 at the age of 17 and has volunteered at USNA Museum every Friday for the past five years.

Diamond enjoys the interaction he has with visitors who come to the museum, he said.

“I just like to work with people,” said Diamond. “I like the interfacing and the action here at the museum.”

Vice Adm. Ted Carter gave Diamond one of his challenge coins as a thank you for his volunteer service.

“The museum is one of the centerpieces of the Naval Academy,” said Carter. “I want to thank you for what you do here and your special contribution to the Marine Corps and the Naval Academy family.”

Diamond ended by stating that if young service members understand integrity, follow the rules of the road, try to do the right thing life, set the bar high enough and stay motivated, they will succeed.

The U.S. Naval Academy Museum is located in Preble Hall on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy and offers two floors of exhibits about the history of sea power, the development of the U.S. Navy, and the role of the U.S. Naval Academy in producing officers capable of leading America's sailors and marines.

For more information about the museum visit

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Best Selfie Ever?

Not everybody gets a selfie soaring above the earth in an F-18.

While underway on CVN-74 John C. Stennis, MIDN 1/C Rylan Tuohy got a backseat with a pilot from VFA-41 from Lemoore, Calif.

Tuohy was on board the aircraft carrier as part of his summer training.

Photo courtesy of Rylan Tuohy

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

You Don't Have to Be An Admiral: Darrin Briggs (USNA '03)

The mission of the Naval Academy is graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

In the "You Don't Have to Be an Admiral" blog series we feature Naval Academy graduates who have, after their military service, gone on to excel in various ways outside the military.

Our second graduate to be featured is Darrin Briggs (USNA '03). Darrin attended flight school in Pensacola after commissioning, but was medically disqualified from flying and subsequently separated from the Navy.

His Naval Academy training clearly taught him a lot about selflessness, however. When a coworker and friend learned one of her kidneys was failing, Darrin volunteered to donate a kidney to help her.

See more about his story in the video below, courtesy of Fox13, Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Plebe "Braveheart" Run

Plebe Summer may be nearing its end, but the level of motivation on the Yard isn't.

Photo by Lou Cox

The plebes of the Class of 2019 took part in a "Braveheart" run during their weekend morning workout. The Braveheart run has become a tradition over the past few years and consists of a series of field sprints at Hospital Point (and an inspiring speech at the beginning.)

As you can see on the left, key members of the staff get into the spirit of the event. We're looking at you, Major Antonelli.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mids Experience Brazil in Three Cities

By MIDN 1/C Emily Saitta

Six midshipmen, one Brazilian officer, one tiny Chevrolet Spin, and three weeks - these were the main ingredients needed to conduct our priceless cultural immersion adventure, to the most populous country in Latin America, Brazil.

LCDR Carlos Macedo, Brazilian exchange officer at USNA, coordinated and guided Midshipmen 1st Class Emily Saitta, Connor Westrick, Michael Wolfe, Bryce Colceri, Jessica Carrillo and Nikki Peterson on an eye-opening and engaging LREC (Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness) trip which stopped at three major cities in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Brasilia. This unparalleled experience highlighted the country’s diversity and blend of many cultures.

The LREC began in Rio de Janeiro, a popular tourist center home to the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, but our activities went beyond what a mere tourist sees.

Our group of midshipmen resided at Escola Naval, Brazil’s USNA counterpart, and spent hours on end with the Brazilian midshipmen learning about their daily lives, walking the city and sailing the Guanabara Bay. As dancing is a very popular pastime of Brazilians, we even attended a few dance classes provided by the school and learned the basic steps of salsa and forro.

The group spent many days experiencing the breathtaking views of Rio after hiking Dois Irmãos (Twin Brothers) Mountain, taking a cable car to the top of Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) Mountain,  exploring the Tijuca Forest National Park, and driving up Mount Corcovado to one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).

Another few days were used to tour the Brazilian training ship, training center, a submarine, and a special operations force training center. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time interacting with their commanding officers and crews.

After a week and a half in Rio the adventure continued on to Salvador and Brasilia. A memorable day trip in Salvador was at the Base Naval de Aratu where we toured the shipyard and explored a minesweeper. While in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, our group discovered the modern architecture of Oscar Niemeyer while visiting the Brazilian National Congress Building, the  Palácio do Planalto (Presidential office), and the United States Embassy. While at the embassy we were privileged to meet U.S. Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, the Naval Attache, and other USNA graduates working at the embassy.

Meeting and touring Rio, Salvador, and Brasilia was an experientially-based learning opportunity which helped us recognize that, although there are some differences between our navies, we have numerous commonalities that help to create a positive bond between our countries.

Immersing ourselves in Brazilian culture helped open our minds to the importance of learning about what ties a group of people together and experiencing the essence of another country. We will now be able to better identify with the lifestyles and communities that exist across the globe, a skill that will serve us well as a Naval or Marine Corps officer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Photo of the Week: Flashback to I-Day

Plebe Parents Weekend is just around the corner! We know both plebes and parents are looking forward to reuniting after noon formation on Friday.

Check out USNA’s Plebe Parents Weekend website for lots of information on the big weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Plebes Near Completion of Summer Training

The plebes of the Class of 2019 are nearing the end of their six-week, boot camp-style training program, Plebe Summer.

Plebe Summer, which began July 1 on Induction Day, is designed to provide incoming students with a basic understanding of the military knowledge and values necessary to join the Brigade of Midshipmen and eventually become successful military leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps.

“Plebe Summer is the military introduction for the plebe class entering the Naval Academy,” said Cmdr. Mike Murnane, Plebe Summer assistant officer in charge. “We bring them in through this program to lay down the foundation for the future identity of the Navy and Marine Corps.”

During the six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upperclass midshipmen, called detailers. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training.

“I’m really glad that my time at the academy has come full circle, starting as a plebe and then coming back as a detailer,” said Midshipman 1st Class Alex Mcintosh, Charlie Company detailer. “Peer leadership is something that has been really challenging but so rewarding. Having the opportunity to instill many of the lessons that I have learned over the years here makes it all worthwhile.”

A typical day during Plebe Summer starts at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The challenging activities are designed to prepare them for the moral, mental, and physical rigors of the academy.

“Plebe Summer lays the foundation for the midshipmen’s entire experience here at the Academy through the three prime missions: developing them morally, mentally, and physically,” said Murnane. “The academy is a 47-month experience, and at the end of that time we want them to be prepared to handle any and all problems that they may face as a junior officer. This program sets the tone for that preparation and the types of officers that they will become.”

Upon completion of Plebe Summer, the new class will join the Brigade of Midshipmen during a formal parade scheduled for Aug. 20.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

USNA Grad Selected to Direct Naval Air Systems Command

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced Thursday that the president has nominated Vice Admiral Paul A. Grosklags (USNA '82) for reappointment to the rank of vice admiral and for assignment as commander, Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Grosklags is currently serving as principal military deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, Washington, District of Columbia.