Sunday, March 20, 2016

Vice Adm. Carter Serves as Reviewing Officer at Recruit Training Command

By Lt. Adam Demeter, Public Affairs Officer, RTC Public Affairs Office

The 62nd Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, Vice Adm. Walter Carter Jr., visited Recruit Training Command (RTC) and delivered remarks at recruit graduation, March 18.

Carter served as the reviewing officer at the ceremony that had 10 divisions with 671 Seaman Recruits entering the Fleet.

“The program [at RTC] has always been rigorous, demanding more from recruits than they probably thought possible of themselves,” said Carter during his remarks to the graduating recruits and more than 2,600 guests in attendance. “It has to be tough, we need your best, the country demands the very best, and Great Lakes provides it to you.”

Photo by Brian Walsh

As the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, Carter oversees and prepares young men and women as they become professional officers of competence, character, and consequence. Each year, the Academy graduates approximately 1,000 ensigns and 2nd lieutenants to the Fleet and Marine Corps, roughly one-third of the total number of officer accessions each year.

Recruit Training Command, on average, graduates approximately 39,000 Sailors per year. Forty-eight graduations are held each year to celebrate the accomplishments of recruits who have completed all training requirements, officially becoming Sailors.

Also present during the visit was the command master chief for the U.S. Naval Academy, Command Master Chief Russell Smith. Carter and Smith were escorted by Capt. Doug Pfeifle, commanding officer, RTC, to the graduating recruits’ Pizza Night where the guests had time to meet, share their experience and offer advice to the new Sailors.

Photo by Brian Walsh

Carter and Smith also visited the USS Triton and came aboard the USS Trayer (BST-21). The 210-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer simulator is the largest in the Navy and is the site of “Battle Stations 21,” which culminates recruits' eight weeks of training during boot camp.

During the graduation ceremony, Carter acknowledged the staff, parents, friends and mentors of the recruits and thanked them for playing a role in their Sailor's development from civilian to Sailor.

“The Recruit Division Commanders, instructors, and staff at RTC have taken on a unique and honorable challenge of shaping recruits into U.S. Navy Sailors. We thank them for their dedication," said Carter. “But above all, we acknowledge these Sailors’ families and friends for the integral role they’ve played. You helped shape your recruit into a person who wanted to stand up for this country, who understands the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment. And during the past eight weeks, you have tirelessly supported them. Today, we also welcome you into the Navy family.”
Carter also touched on new opportunities for the Sailors entering the Fleet.

“Sailors, you are entering the Naval service at a time of great change, an evolution of what the Navy is, platforms in which we serve, and the enemy we fight. You are entering the Navy as we open all combat roles to women. Indeed, women in future classes — maybe even members of this class — will have the opportunity in combat roles none of your predecessors have ever had,” said Carter.

RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial Navy orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as “boot camp” or “recruit training.”

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is, today, the Navy’s only basic training location, and is known as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy.”

RTC is overseen by Rear Adm. Stephen Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered in Building 1; the historic clock tower building on Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. NSTC also oversees the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.

Learn more on the RTC website or follow on Facebook.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

USNA Midshipman Presents Governor's Harriet Tubman Day Proclamation

U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Midshipman 3rd Class Ashanti Curry presented an official proclamation from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan at the State Capitol March 10 commemorating the 16th Annual State of Maryland Harriet Ross Tubman Day of Remembrance.

This is the 6th year that a USNA midshipman has presented the proclamation.

"I feel extremely honored to be giving this proclamation,” said Curry. “I remember in middle school giving a speech about Harriet Tubman and ever since then she had a huge impact on me. She was so powerful and determined, I feel that this should tell African American females that they can do anything.”

The event, hosted by State Senator Catherine Pugh, featured a number of prominent Maryland political leaders including Louis Fields, president of the Baltimore African American Tourism Council; Errol E. Brown Sr., president of the Wiley H. Bates Sr. Foundation; Dr. Dale Greene, professor in the Morgan State University's School of Architecture and vice chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture; and representatives from voting districts in and around Annapolis.

“It is so important that we partner with our local community,” said Capt. Pat Williams, USNA's diversity officer. “We are so thrilled to be a part of this occasion, the sixteenth annual Harriet Ross Tubman Day.”

"It is great that our state, our leadership, our senators, our delegates, and our governor, have embraced Harriet Tubman Day," said Fields. "You have a young woman in the mid-1800s who gave everything she could to help her fellow man, fellow woman to freedom. Harriet Tubman said ‘I could not be free until all of us are free,’ and through honoring [her] we give life to the many others who sacrificed ... in the process of helping others find freedom."

Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Maryland native, played a critical role as a civil rights activist and Underground Railroad operator during the 19th and early 20th century. Over the course of her life, Tubman made an estimated 19 trips along the eastern coast of the U.S. and into Canada, rescuing more than 300 people from slavery.

“People like Harriet Tubman did great work for this country,” said Fields. “It is important for the youth of today to know about great abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, and young people today do not have that connection to the past unless they are taught. The lesson for them today is helping others, showing respect and not just look out for yourself but ... looking out for each other.”

Friday, March 11, 2016

USNA Hosts Homeport Night for Surface Warfare Officers Headed to Japan

The U.S. Naval Academy hosted its third annual Japan Homeport Night for the Class of 2016’s future surface warfare officers (SWO) March 9 in Dahlgren Hall.

Homeport Night is held to help provide midshipmen who have selected ships homeported in Japan information about Japanese culture.

“The purpose of this event is to offer the opportunity for the midshipmen to talk with officers who have been in Japan, share their stories, and help remove their anxiety before going to Japan,” said Lt. Cmdr. Hironori Tamura, Seamanship and Navigation instructor.

Several SWOs stationed at the academy attended the event and shared advice on where to live, available activities, cost of living, and many other details of interest to midshipmen living overseas for the first time.

“This is going to be their first time moving out of the Naval Academy environment and living the real Navy life,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Culpepper, Seamanship and Navigation instructor. “So not only are they dealing with that, but they are also moving to a new country.”

Cmdr. Masato Murakoshi, Languages and Culture Department instructor, reminded the midshipmen in attendance of the important role the U.S. played when Japan was hit by the severe earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Murakoshi shared a video highlighting the aid the U.S. military provided to the people of Japan.

“I didn’t really know that the ties with Japan were so strong before tonight,” said Midshipman 1st Class Alexandria Baker. “The video they showed about the relief work for the tsunami was really cool to see.”

Midshipman 1st Class Vianey Gomez previously lived in Japan as a child. He said he is eager to return and experience Japan from a different point of view.

“My dad was stationed in Japan when I was a kid, but now it is going to be a completely different experience for me,” said Gomez. “Having been there as a kid and now returning in uniform is going to be really rewarding and will give me a totally different view of the way of life and culture.”

With their time at the Naval Academy drawing to a close, the midshipmen preparing to graduate are ready to start their career overseas.

“My time here has been great, but I am so excited to graduate and get to the ship,” said Baker.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Midshipmen Spend Semester in South Korea

Midshipmen 1st Class Myles Wortham and Grace Pruden and Midshipmen 2nd Class Suzie Bigley spent the 2015 fall semester in the Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea.

They learned much by being completely immersed in a new culture. Something as simple as food was foreign in many ways whether it was the ingredients and food they ate, the use of chopsticks, or sitting on the floor at a low table

The three midshipmen were able to travel and experience many aspects of Korean culture. They went to the countryside and lived in a traditional Hanok village where they slept on a floor mat with a buckwheat pillow, visited the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, travelled to the exotic Korean island of Jeju, and spent the weekend far up on the mountains in a temple stay to learn the traditional lifestyle of a Korean Buddhist monk.

Wearing traditional dress at the Gyeongbokgung Palace

One trip took the midshipmen to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. They rented the Korean traditional dresses, called hanboks, then took the subway to the palace.

“We encountered an array of reactions from people on the subway," said Pruden. "Most of the locals didn’t pay much attention since they were used to seeing people in hanboks using the subway as a means of commuting, but others would stare or take pictures of us. I must admit, it was a strange sight to see a traditional outfit in a modern environment.”

At the palace, the midshipmen’s native Korean friend showed them around explaining the history of the palace and of Korea. The traditional architecture and the gardens were absolutely stunning. This trip was a step back in time to learn about the 14th Century.

Attending the annual Yon-Ko-Jeon soccer game

The mids also attended the annual Yon-Ko-Jeon soccer game. Yon-Ko-Jeon is a sporting event between Yonsei University and Korea University in which the two compete in five sporting events. They compete against one another in soccer, rugby, basketball, ice hockey, and baseball.

This year was an anomaly in that it ended in a tie. Yonsei University won in rugby and ice hockey and lost in basketball and baseball.

“There was choreographed dancing for the crowd to follow and live music! It seemed more like a concert than a sporting event,” said Bigley.

The rivalry between Korea University and Yonsei University is very similar to that between Army and Navy. While West Point and the Naval Academy are well known as military schools, Korea University and Yonsei University both frequently fight for number two in the university national rankings.

During the first couple weeks abroad, the midshipmen participated in a cultural excursion headed by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) to a Buddhist temple. While none of the three midshipmen are Buddhist, they all agreed it was one of the most peaceful places they’d ever visited.

Every night at 7 p.m., the temple monks would ring several bells, signaling it was time for the creatures of the earth, air, and water to awaken. The midshipmen and members of the CIEE program were lucky enough to be present for the event.

“It was my favorite weekend," said Wortham. "If there was one weekend I could redo, it would be that one.”

Spending an entire semester was an incredible opportunity as the midshipmen were able to learn so much about a country whose alliance with the U.S. is critical to maintaining security on the Korean Peninsula. Not only were they able to learn about the language, culture, military and lifestyle of Korea, but learning to adapt to a new environment was a great experience as well.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Four Midshipmen Study at the Chilean Naval Academy

Four midshipmen spent fall semester at the Chilean Naval Academy in Valparaiso last semester, arriving in a southern hemisphere winter in early July. They were quickly exposed to the hospitality of Chilean culture with an invitation to a cadet’s house for an asado (Chilean barbecue) on the Fourth of July.

As the midshipmen prepared for independence celebrations, the Chileans pushed them in front of the television to watch the final of the Copa America Cup. With excitement, the Chilean national soccer team beat their largest rival, Argentina, in penalty kicks, starting the adventure on high.

The following week life began as a Chilean naval cadet.

The Escuela Naval Arturo Prat (ENAP) became home for Midshipmen 1/C Jarred Gillie, 2/C Nicole Hadler, 2/C Gabriel Larios, and 2/C Benjamin Olson. There they would spend the next five months in both the naval and cultural center of the country.

Even though there were some shockers, like waking up at 6 a.m. to a mandatory cold shower, each midshipmen valued their time spent in Chile as an experience to be immersed in a foreign culture and create lasting bonds with naval counterparts 5,000 miles away.

From Monday morning through Saturday afternoon, the midshipmen lived with their Chilean classmates at ENAP. They participated in the cadets’ daily activities, including formations and inspections, meals, course lectures and exams, and sports classes and competitions. A typical morning would consist of waking up to a bugle call at 6 a.m., passing through a cold shower, and forming by division to run a quick lap around the parade field before breakfast.

The rest of the morning was spent in classes such as navigation and naval weapons systems, all taught in Spanish. The afternoons were great opportunities for the midshipmen to continue to get to know the cadets through immersion in sports classes, team practices, and extracurricular club meetings.

While weekday life could seem extremely regimented, the weekends were available for the midshipmen to spend at the home of a local cadet or to get to know other parts of Chile. The four took advantage of their weekend liberty to travel the country. They made visits north to the Atacama Desert, south to hike on an active volcano and explore the Patagonia region, east to the Andes mountains, and west to Easter Island.

When they weren’t traveling, each midshipman was also assigned a host family to stay with. These host families were affiliated with ENAP and generously provided the midshipmen with home-cooked Chilean meals, a place to stay, and conversations and relationships which would be remembered and maintained well after their semester exchange came to an end.

Immediately upon arrival in the country, the mids noted that the Spanish they were hearing wasn’t exactly the same Spanish they were accustomed to learning and listening to in the U.S. The Chileans were quick to explain to them that Chilean Spanish is faster and sloppier than Spanish spoken in other countries. They proudly explained that native Spanish speakers from other countries often have a difficult time understanding them, due to their speed and extensive slang. However, thanks to the fully immersed nature of the exchange program, as well as the patience of the cadets and officers at ENAP, the midshipmen drastically improved their Spanish abilities in all forms – listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

One unique advantage for these midshipmen was the close relationship enjoyed with the Chilean navy. Some of these opportunities included a week-long underway period on the Chilean research vessel Aquiles, two eight-hour underways on Chilean frigates, meeting the CNO of the Chilean Navy and countless interactions with officers, cadets and enlisted.

There is no doubt that these experiences broadened the four midshipman’s cultural education and will help them as future Naval and Marine Corps Officers.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Letter to My Former Self: 2nd Lt. Shakir Robinson (’15)

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. Shakir Robinson,  a Marine logistics officer and 2015 graduate. 

I'm a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps now. I graduated Echo Company in December 2015. I got selected to be in the Logistics community just like your role models Lt. Col. Green and Capt Soublet. Turns out, my first duty station will be in Okinawa, Japan. If I could go back and impart three pieces of wisdom on you, I would tell you these tidbits of advice.

1. Soak in the time you have with your friends and peers. 
Sooner than later, you will be at your first duty station serving your enlisted. After the academy, there is no other time in your career when you will be in close proximity to 1,000 members of your peer group who have the same rank. If you get lucky enough to get into the "academy" class at TBS, you will go with about 200 of your classmates. From there, you will be a small officer in a wide ocean of enlisted men and women. Enjoy your time with your close friends.

2. Do your research. 
Before you choose a ship, duty station, TBS class, or MOS, do your research. The academy is the perfect time to reach out to the abundant source of officers who are there. Ask them the hard questions. Ask them about matters that you are concerned with. While I was at TBS, I learned that our ROTC and OCS bretheren usually do not have the opportunity to speak to a large variety of officers from different communities. Take advantage of your time at the academy to build a network. I have contacted officers from the academy on numerous occasions. Make connections, and do your research now.

3. Enjoy Annapolis, and have a blast! 
I did not recognize the beauty Annapolis had to offer until I came back to visit during my time at TBS. Enjoy the harbor, Navy Football, and the Iron Rooster. Enjoy Downtown Annapolis. Not having to catch an Uber to get to DTA to have fun with your friends on the weekend is the hookup. Throughout my short time in the operating forces I've realized that in the fleet, there are amphibious ships, nuclear ships, big ships, and small ships, but the most important ships are friendships. Enjoy them now.

Life as a Midshipman is great. If you ever get down on yourself, just remember, you could be in the middle of nowhere at West Point. Soak in the good times. Stay the course. The best is yet to come.


USNA Celebrates Women’s History Month

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) commenced its Women’s History Month celebration Mar. 1 with two events featuring prominent speakers.

The luncheon and dinner events, hosted by the academy's Joy Bright Hancock Organization (JBHO), provided a unique opportunity for midshipmen and officers on the Yard to learn about the history of women at USNA.

Mr. James Cheevers speaks during a Women's History Month kickoff luncheon

Mr. James Cheevers, associate director and curator of the Naval Academy Museum, spoke during the luncheon about the evolution of attitudes toward women during his 58 years of employment at USNA.

“I sat in on a meeting with a group of women alumni for an upcoming exhibit. There were quite a number of classes represented, and it was fascinating how the times have changed,” said Cheevers. ”The attitude toward women from what it was like originally to what it is today was quite an eye opener. It seemed to me like there have been a lot of barriers that have come down over the years.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of women attending USNA. Eighty-one women arrived on Induction Day in 1976 to become the first female midshipmen of the Class of 1980. To recognize this milestone, the Naval Academy Museum will feature an exhibit, starting in June, highlighting the women of USNA and their accomplishments on the Yard and throughout their careers.

Capt. Candace Eckert speaks at USNA's Women's History Month Banquet

Later that night, Capt. Candace Eckert, special assistant for diversity and inclusion in the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel, spoke at the 2nd Annual Women’s History Banquet held at the Naval Academy Club.

“The theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is ‘forming a more perfect union,’” said Eckert. “I think it is wonderful to include words from our constitution. It embodies what we serve. I think it’s wonderful to see it applied to something contemporary like Women’s History Month.”

Today, women comprise 18 percent of the Navy. There are more than 59,000 active duty women serving in the Navy and more than 9,000 female Reservists.

USNA's Women's History Month Banquet, held at the Naval Academy Club

“Over the years, workforce management practices have matured,” said Eckert. “Things like diverse thought, behaviors and life experience have become recognized as critical to organizational success. The term diversity is now commonly used to describe gender and racial attributes, as well as cognitive and non-cognitive qualities. As leaders we want and need diversity to help solve the complex problems we face.”

Women make up 27 percent of the Naval Academy student body, and female midshipmen continue to make great strides at USNA. The Women's History Month events organized by JBHO provide an oppotunity to recognize and discuss those accomplishments.

“The goal is just to spark conversation,” said Midshipman 1st Class Christina Lanier, JBHO president. “The more we can engage with the brigade and talk about issues of diversity, the more we can celebrate the different people that make up the brigade as a whole. I’m really happy to be able to contribute to something like this.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

40 Years of Women at the Naval Academy – “Ability, Not Gender”

By Vice Adm. Ted Carter, U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent

The Naval Academy recently hosted its annual Astronaut Convocation, inviting five of our 53 astronaut graduates to the Yard to discuss the future of the space program with the Brigade of Midshipmen. Among them was U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Nicole Aunapu Mann (’99), the most recent USNA graduate to be selected by NASA.

Marine Maj. Nichole Aunapu Mann ('99) speaks at USNA's recent Astronaut Convocation.

Mann joins an illustrious line of Naval Academy alumnae who have served in the U.S. space program. One of the academy’s earliest woman graduates was retired Capt. Wendy Lawrence, my classmate from the great Class of 1981 and the first woman from USNA to fly in space. Capt. Sunita Williams (’87) is one of four members – and the only woman – on NASA’s new commercial spaceflight team, selected to partner with private sector companies developing spacecraft that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Naval Academy's representation in the past and future of space flight is just one example of our graduates’ achievements at the highest levels.  As we mark the 40th anniversary of the integration of women at the Naval Academy, I'd like to highlight how far we've come and look ahead in anticipation of a bright future.

Capt. Sunita Williams ('87), far right, is one of four members of NASA's commercial
space flight team. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

On July 6, 1976, the Class of 1980 arrived on Induction Day.  Four years later, 55 women from that class graduated, becoming the plankowners of gender integration at this great institution – an accomplishment that we celebrated last year at the 35th Reunion for the Class of 1980.

Compare that to our most recent graduates – of the 1,070 midshipmen who graduated last May, 204 were women.

And the numbers continue to grow. More women have applied for admission than ever before (over 4,300 applications!) for the soon to be inducted Class of 2020. The current Plebe Class of 2019 boasts the largest number of women in academy history – ANY academy – with 324 inducted last July. In a summer marked by near-record-low attrition, every woman completed Plebe Summer.

Women now comprise more than a quarter of the Brigade.  Female representation will continue to grow; America’s talented youth is clearly attracted to the Naval Academy and the missions of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.  More importantly, beyond just the numbers, the evolution of gender integration has made significant positive progress over the past four decades.  With combat positions being opened to all women starting next year, the attitude and personality of the Brigade has become one of inclusiveness for all – men and women.

Then Capt. Margaret Klein as the USNA Commandant of Midshipmen shaves the head
of an incoming plebe.

Since 1980, more than 4,600 women have graduated from the Naval Academy and have gone on to excel in their military careers and beyond. Adm. Michelle Howard (’82) was the first African-American woman to reach flag rank as well as the first woman to wear four stars. She now serves as our Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the second-highest ranking position in the Navy. Rear Adm. Margaret Klein (’81), now Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Military Professionalism, was the first woman to serve as Commandant of Midshipmen.  Marine Col. Roberta Shea (’91) recently served as the first female Deputy Commandant, and she is currently serving as the Commanding Officer of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Headquarters Group in Camp Pendleton, Ca.

Their legacy of leadership continues today within the Brigade. Midshipman 1st Class Jenna Westerberg serves as this semester’s Brigade Commander, following on the heels of Midshipman 1st Class Margo Darragh’s leadership in the same position during the fall semester. This is the first academic year in which women earned the Brigade Commander leadership position for both semesters.

Midshipman 1st Class Margo Darragh led the Brigade of Midshipman during fall
semester 2015.

The Brigade has a wealth of role models to choose from among their peers – including women who excel morally, mentally and physically. Midshipman 1st Class Megan Musilli is one of only 32 Americans and the only service academy student selected for a 2016 Rhodes Scholarship. She is a mathematics major and is training to become a Navy physician. Midshipman 1st Class Ally Strachan, a weapons and systems engineering major ranked in the top five percent of her class, was selected for the Mitchell Scholarship. Just last month, nuclear engineering major Midshipman 1st Class Megan Hough was selected for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of only 35 nationwide.

Amazingly, a nation-leading 42 percent of women at the Naval Academy compete in Division I NCAA Athletics on 15 different sports teams. Last semester, varsity soccer player Midshipman 3rd Class Meghan Hegarty was named to the Patriot League All-Academic squad and was chosen as a First-Team College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District honoree. Five members of the Navy volleyball team recently earned placement on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. Women’s swimming and diving recently dominated the Patriot League Championship, winning the team title and all three individual meet awards (Swimmer, Diver, and Rookie of the meet).

Women from USNA's Class of 1980 study in their room in Bancroft Hall

In addition to observing Women's History Month throughout March, we will mark the anniversary of the integration of women at USNA with a variety of ceremonies and observances.  Our annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (NAFAC) in April will focus on “Women and Security:  The Implications of Promoting Global Gender Equality.” Our Commissioning Week in May and Induction Day later in the summer will allow us the opportunity to welcome back many of our alumnae to impart their experiences on our new graduates and incoming freshman class.  Our Naval Academy Museum will also open a new exhibit in July focusing on this anniversary.

As Superintendent, and as someone who was a student at USNA in the earliest days of women on the yard, I’m extremely proud of what our graduates and our current midshipmen have accomplished, and look forward to what they will achieve in the future as their opportunities to serve expand. For women in the Navy and Marine Corps, the future has never been brighter, and the Naval Academy will continue to develop women of character and consequence to lead our Sailors and Marines.