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University of Idaho NROTC Unit Hosts Annual Northwest Navy Competition

06 March 2019

From Scott A. Thornbloom

More than 270 NROTC student competitors and staff members from the Universities of Idaho/Washington State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington overcame a snowstorm to travel to the University of Idaho (UI) campus and participate in the annual 2019 Northwest Navy Competition, March 2.

More than 270 U. S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) student competitors and staff members from the Universities of Idaho/Washington State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington overcame a snowstorm to travel to the University of Idaho (UI) campus and participate in the annual 2019 Northwest Navy Competition, March 2.

The Idaho Vandals NROTC battalion planned and ran this year’s competition which has been held on a rotating basis between the universities since 1957.

“This is a competition that is at least six decades old,” said U. S. Navy Capt. Shaun McAndrew, professor of Naval Science and commanding officer of the University of Idaho NROTC unit. “This is a military, academic, and sports competition and has been a healthy rivalry in the Northwest with the only four NROTCs in the area. All the battalions very much look forward to participating. It is a huge camaraderie building event. It is a great exposure for the midshipmen, officer candidates (OC) and MECEPs (Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program) to see and understand the Navy and Marine Corps core values and our warrior ethos.”

This year the University of Washington Huskies NROTC battalion won for a third year in a row, outlasting Idaho 72 points to 65. Oregon State University and the University of Utah finished third and fourth, respectively.

“I feel great. Second time in a row for me,” said U. S. Navy Capt. Michael Lockwood, professor of Naval Science and commanding officer of the University of Washington NROTC unit. “But it’s the students. They’re the ones who plan this. They’re the ones who coordinate everything, make sure everyone is at the right event at the right time - knowing students are doing multiple events. They pull it through and they prevail in the events. It’s all about them and it’s a great future for the fleet because they are going to be the leaders in a couple of years.”

Washington’s Battalion Commander, Midshipman 1st Class Alec Waters, 22, a senior from Renton, Washington, credited the freshmen midshipmen, OCs and MECEPS for leading the unit to victory.

“Hats off to Idaho/Washington State for an outstanding job. Any questions we had were answered really fast, the food has been amazing and everyone has been really helpful and friendly. You couldn’t ask for a better Northwest Navy,” Waters said.

“I’m so proud of this battalion. I think the freshman class was the MVP. A lot of them did four or five events. They care a lot about this battalion and I think they are going to have a very strong future.”

Waters is scheduled to attend aviation school at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, next year after he is commissioned to ensign and graduates from Washington. He said he is most interested in being a P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and anti-surface aircraft pilot.

The coordinator for Washington agreed with Waters and said the planning and hard work getting ready for the event and travel to Idaho was worth it.

“We had to plan a lot months out from the event. We had to put together buses, get hotel rooms in order and arrange practices so we had a good shot at winning,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Avesta Shwany, 21, a junior from Chula Vista, Calif. Our planning staff also had to make sure everyone traveling here was prepared because in the end it was definitely significant. We got to take home the gold.”

For new midshipmen Northwest Navy was an eye-opening experience.

“It was really cool being able to interact with other midshipmen,” said Midshipman 4th Class Lexie Glunz, 18, a freshman at the University of Utah from Round Lake Heights, Illinois. “It was interesting seeing the perspectives of the midshipmen from other schools. I think I’ll take away the team building we had to do in each event and being able to network with the other midshipmen is great.”

The competition included a Close Order Military Drill contest, a Physical Fitness Test (PFT), a four-person team versus team academic scholastic bowl on military topics, flag football and volleyball round-robin tournaments, a land navigation event, running relays and a Tug-of-War single elimination tug-off between the four NROTC units. All of the events were held on the UI campus grounds. One of the challenges for the Idaho planning committee was the more than five inches of snow that fell on Moscow and the university grounds. The Feb. 27 snow fall was on top of the more than 20 inches that was already on the ground, breaking a record for the month.

“There were some issues in the beginning with the weather but we were able to overcome it and still complete our outdoor events,” said University of Idaho Midshipman 1st Class Aurora Mackie-Meuler, 22, a junior from Fairbanks, Alaska, and the event coordinator for the competition. “Our unit really stepped up and I’m really proud of them and how they came together to make sure Northwest Navy was a success. They took the initiative when something went wrong to fix it themselves.”

Mackie-Meuler is doing an extra year at UI and after she commissions and graduates she hopes to be a Navy helicopter pilot.

Northwest Navy is held to build camaraderie among the units, participation in healthy competition and the enhancement of leadership and teamwork skills. Next year’s competition is scheduled to be held on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.

“It’s been a really good time. This is my fourth and last year (at the Northwest Navy competition) and I can honestly say this is one of the better competitions I’ve been to in the last four years,” Oregon State University Midshipman 1st Class Morgan Craig, 21, a senior from Veneta, Oregon, said. “It’s been really cool to see the bonding occur between my battalion and the other battalions. This is a really good event to see other future officers get together and build the community.”

Craig will be joining the submarine community following her commissioning and graduation in May.

The Navy ROTC program develops midshipmen mentally, morally and physically, to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values. The program provides college graduates an opportunity to commission as naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service, and have potential for future development in mind and character, so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, supports 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development Program.

Bernacchi and his NSTC staff at Great Lakes and at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, also support Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp, at Great Lakes; NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities across the country; Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, R. I.; Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.


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