From the Fall 2016 edition    |    Back

Midshipman Colleen McGovern ‘17, at right, with a midshipman from Virginia Military Institute aboard the USS McCampbell.

Midshipman Colleen McGovern ‘17, at right, with a midshipman from Virginia Military Institute aboard the USS McCampbell.
Midshipman Colleen McGovern ‘17, at right, with a midshipman from Virginia Military Institute aboard the USS McCampbell.

The Naval ROTC (NROTC) battalion began the fall semester with approximately 323 midshipmen. Virginia Tech’s NROTC unit continues to commission a large number of officers into the fleet and received six three-year scholarships and 10 slots for advanced standing after the side-load board met in August. As the third-largest Navy and Marine Corps unit in the nation, we attribute our success to the high standards maintained academically and physically by the midshipmen.         


Twenty-five Navy and Marine Corps officers were commissioned into active service this past school year. The unit commissioned eight ensigns to serve as surface warfare officers: Xavier Canlas ’16, Joshua Craft ’16, Nickolas England ’16, Emily Konoza ’16, David Lee ’16, Tiffany Moreira ’16, Catherine Schumacher ’16, and John Stillwell ’16.

The following ensigns were commissioned to serve as naval aviators or naval flight officers and will report to Pensacola for flight training: Joseph Balak ’16, Evan Forst ’16, Naveen Gupta ’16, Elizabeth Kiernan ’16, James Paratore ’16, Cassandra Quick ’16, and Matthew Whitford ’16.

The following ensigns were commissioned to serve as submarine officers and will report to nuclear power school in Charleston, South Carolina: Perry Artz ’16, Adam D’Amico ’16, Troy Manzitti ’16, John Parker ’16, Logan Pomeroy ’16, and Mark Sweet ’16.

Samuel Stearney ’16 commissioned into the special warfare community and will report to training in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Three students were commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps and will proceed to The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia: 2nd Lt. Sean Evans ’16, 2nd Lt. Michael Simolke ’16, and 2nd Lt. John Snyder ’16.

Officer Candidates School

by Midshipman 1st Class Andrew Greenwood, Class of 2017

This summer, nine midshipmen and five officer candidates from the Corps of Cadets attended and successfully graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. Midshipmen Christopher Hintz ’17, Ryan Leavis ’17, William Brannen ’17, Joseph Paragone ’17, Stephen Bologna-Jill ’17, John Peacock ’17, Lawrence Hussey ’18, Matthew Kim ’17, and Andrew Greenwood ’17 are part of the NROTC detachment.

Officer candidates Ford Williams ’19, Nolan Paduda ’17, Sam Kaylor ’17, Samantha Fulgham ’17, and Matthew Remsen ’18 are part of the Platoon Leaders Course while also active members of the Corps of Cadets. The mission of Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS) is to train, screen, and evaluate candidates on their potential to lead as officers in the Marine Corps.

Leavis describes OCS as a “challenging but rewarding experience, but I’m very proud to have earned the title of ‘Marine.’ Raider Company more than adequately prepared me for the challenges of OCS.”

These Marines are now setting their sights on The Basic School, which they will attend after earning their degrees at Virginia Tech.

A summer with the 7th Fleet

by Midshipman 1st Class Colleen McGovern, Class of 2017

On my first class cruise this summer, I joined a strike group whose homeport is Yokosuka, Japan. After traveling for more than 24 hours, I met the strike group in Manila, Philippines, where we boarded a plane and landed on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea. After spending two days on the carrier, we took a helicopter to the USS
McCampbell, one of the strike group’s destroyers. 

People talk about midshipmen not getting involved on cruise, but this was not an option for us.  We stood every five-hour watch with our running mates, as well as followed them around and learned about their jobs as division officers. The strike group had been underway for about 55 days without any port visits, which is a tough deployment in the 7th fleet. Their schedule is generally unpredictable, and sometimes they get only a one-day notice before they go underway.  It was clear that the morale was a little low and everyone was exhausted, but I was impressed that every single sailor got up every day and did his/her job.

The best part of this training cruise was that instead of having us sit on the sidelines and observe, they had us fully immersed in every exercise the crew did. I walked through engineering and participated in freshwater wash-downs, damage control drills, small boat exercises, and weapons exercises. As I walked around combat, every enlisted sailor gladly explained to me what he or she does. We were even invited to sit in on the intelligence briefs and operation meetings, and it was in those briefs that I really got to see how the Navy’s operations are applied.

I am fortunate that I was able to spend my first and last cruise with the 7th Fleet because the operations of the strike group are very important in that area. I am excited for my future and all the opportunities that come with being a U.S. naval officer.

Naval Officer Development Program

By Midshipman 1st Class Bradley Polidoro, Class of 2017

After its establishment in spring 2016, the Naval Officer Development (NOD) Program continues into its second semester at Virginia Tech. Lead by midshipmen within the NROTC, this organization assists its members in acquiring and retaining general Navy knowledge. NOD members advance through the ranks by passing boards that quiz them on their ability to recall information and think under pressure. Members also share differing experiences from summer cruise and pass on knowledge to the next class of midshipmen

Comings and goings

Lt. Michael May ’10 assumed the duties as Alpha Company advisor this fall. As a graduate of the Virginia Tech NROTC unit and a former Highty-Tighty, May and his wife are thrilled to be back in Blacksburg. He is reporting to the unit from the USS Mississippi homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He said he looks forward to teaching and guiding the midshipmen over the next two years as they work their way toward commissioning.

Lt. Daniel Miller transferred from the unit in August. He served as the Alpha Company advisor and as the academics officer, among other responsibilities. He additionally earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering during his tour of duty. His next assignment will be aboard the USS Florida as the weapons officer after he completes the Submarine Officer Advanced Course. Fair winds and following seas!