A group of 74 second class midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy began their Professional Training of Midshipmen program with devil dogs during Marine Week aboard Camp Geiger and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune recently.
The PROTRAMID program also introduces midshipmen to naval aviation, surface and submarine warfare.
The midshipmen are essentially in their junior year of college, and PROTRAMID offers a glimpse of the different military occupational specialties available to them in the Navy and Marine Corps enabling them to sight in on a career path to take before their final year at the academy.
“Some of the midshipmen don’t know what they want to do and there are others have made up their mind,” said 1st Lt. Elliot Arrington, the commander of the Combined Anti Armor Team with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “It’s great to be able to provide them with opportunity to see what Marines do.”
The future officers tested their ability on the obstacle course, reviewed and practiced Marine Corps martial arts, and challenged each other’s mental and physical fortitude during pugil stick and grappling matches. Cheering and shouting intensified the individuals dueling. Grunts came from every bursting strike followed by the sound of impacting pads and helmets. Bouts ended with sweat drenched fatigues and heavy gasps for air.
“We want to present them with leadership principals and bring them closer through shared physical hardship that’s fun,” said Arrington. “The goal is to make their unit at the Naval Academy tighter and give them an understanding of the importance of camaraderie, which is reflected in the Corps.”
On the last day of Marine Week, the midshipmen got the feel for what deployment may be like while they practiced basic military operations on urban terrain.
“The midshipmen were new to the MOUT training we taught them, but they conducted the exercises really well,” said Sgt. Joseph Armistead, a scout sniper with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
The Marines teaching the midshipmen were experienced, many with multiple deployments.
“It’s better than what I thought it was going to be,” said Christopher Burns, a second class midshipman with the U.S. Naval Academy. “The corporals have really made it great by going into great depth with everything they are teaching us.”
Midshipmen rushed and cleared buildings during the MOUT scenarios. Although they didn’t use live rounds or have real aggressors, their harsh and authoritative commands gave a serious tone of hard training.
“They ran through the training with a lot of intensity, and the intensity seemed to increase with each new group,” said Armistead. “We had them go through the training drills, and when they made a mistake we reviewed it with them and had them do it again. I’m confident in their abilities, and they’re really smart because they never made the same mistake twice.”
The week concluded with an MV-22 Osprey ride from MOUT Lejeune. For four weeks each week a group of approximately 75 to 80 midshipmen will arrive to immerse themselves in a snap-shot preview of Marine-Corp lifestyle.
“Ultimately in the long run, the Marines training these midshipmen are going to get a better officer and a better leader,” said Arrington.
The Marines Corps is the smallest military organization, which is comparable to a family. The midshipmen who participated in Marine Week were given the opportunity to be part of the family, but senior leaders in the Corps hope to have them reunite for a longer ride.
“They want to know what the Marine Corps is all about, and they got taste,” said Gunnery Sgt. Marie Voegel, a senior enlisted leader at the Naval Academy. “The Naval Academy has more than 400 staff and only 60 of them are Marines. Our numbers are few, so we’re always looking to add more (academy) officers to our ranks.”
More than 300 midshipmen are expected to visit the surrounding Marine Corps installations for their Marine Week portion of PROTRAMID.