Saturday, February 6, 2016

Naval Academy Service Assignment Dinner Honors Future Marines

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps was the keynote speaker at a dinner and reception Feb. 4 honoring the future Marine officers of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2016.

Gen. John M. Paxton Jr. addressed the 269 first-class midshipmen who were selected to serve as Marine ground officers and aviators after graduation and offered advice and insight about the expectations for their future.

“The Marine Corps is going to ask you to do two things: Make the hard decision, and set the good example,” said Paxton. “That’s why you are there. I want you to think about what you are going to do for the Marine Corps. I want you to think about the hard decisions you are going to have to make out there.”

Other Marine Corps senior leadership in attendance included Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command as well as commander of Marine Corps Forces Strategic Command and deputy commandant for combat development and integration; retired Gen. John R. Allen, former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command; and retired Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator.

“This is a celebration of the midshipmen who have gone above and beyond the cut, have been tried and tested and want to be a different breed,” said Col. Jon M. Aytes, director of the academy’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division. “We welcome them to the Marine Corps by sharing a wealth of experience and knowledge. We want to epitomize what Lt. Gen. Lejeune often emphasized – not a superior and subordinate relationship, but teacher and scholar mentorship.”

The assignment dinner is an annual event that provides a unique opportunity for the midshipmen to meet senior Marine officers and be welcomed into the community.

The Naval Academy Class of 2016 received their service assignments Nov. 19, a milestone that put them one step closer to joining the fleet and Marine Corps as commissioned officers. After graduation May 27, these midshipmen will attend training the Basic School in Quantico, Va.

“It’s really amazing we have this many of the most senior leadership here to speak with us,” said Midshipman 1st Class Nick Sloan. “We have combat veterans from all ranks with us tonight, welcoming us into their ranks. It’s inspiring.”

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