BRIDGEPORT, Calif. – More than 200 Navy Reserve Officer Training
Corps (NROTC) and U. S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen felt a burn
after hiking up one of the many elevated paths in the Sierra Nevada
mountain range at the U. S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare
Training Center (MWTC) on July 13, 2015.
It burned, a good
kind of burn; the kind of sting that runs deep in your muscles as
you take one step after the other. Left foot, right foot, left foot,
right foot hitting the ground on soft, damp earth, sometimes rocks
or grassy meadows. It wasn't long before the brisk cold of the
morning was long forgotten.
On this particular July morning,
the midshipmen had just embarked on the first day of an annual
summer training course at MWTC. Hundreds of future Navy and Marine
Corps officers spend summer taking part in their Career Orientation
and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) here in the high Sierras.
Midshipman 2nd Class David Yagy, 20, from Amityville, N. Y., a management program student and member of the Norwich University Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit, scales a rock face in the Leavitt Training Area of Toiyabe National Forest during the top rope climbing portion of NROTC Mountain Warfare Training at the U. S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) here, July 13,
2015. Mountain warfare training is part of the Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) each summer for nine days in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is offered to NROTC and U. S. Naval Academy 2nd class midshipmen, many who are Marine-option and will be future Marine Corps officers. (U. S. Marine Corps photo by Maj. Anthony Sousa)
Situated high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, MWTC
is one of the Corps' most remote bases and has a history of
challenging units and individuals that range from Marine
Corps infantry units to foreign special warfare personnel.
Over nine days (July 13-22), NROTC and USNA second class
midshipmen would also be challenged mentally, physically and
The training evolution was designed to give
“everybody an opportunity to learn about themselves, face
challenges, learn about how to overcome those challenges,
[and] at the end of the day really... set [them] up for
success,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Jarman, the commanding
officer for the evolution.
This year in particular,
the midshipmen endured more hiking than previous years. For
several of the midshipmen, the hikes acted as a gut check
showing them how the effects of altitude are not bias to a
person's fitness level. However, the training was also
designed to acclimatize the midshipmen over the nine days.
The first two hikes were light-loaded day packs to the
Leavitt Training Area. At LTA the midshipmen learned skills
that included river crossing, gorge crossing, repelling, and
rock climbing. This provided a particular mental challenge,
yet rewarding opportunity, for some midshipmen who grapple
with a fear of heights.
“Next time that they get
pushed into something that they feel uncomfortable with, and
they're getting that trigger in their mind, ‘This is what I
think my limits are,'” said Marine Corps Master Sgt. Matthew
James, senior enlisted advisor for the training. “The
midshipmen will think, ‘What they're trying to push me to is
probably where my limits are really at.'”
following days, the midshipmen hiked progressively to higher
elevations. At Landing Zone (LZ) Quail they learned about
basic survival including how to build shelters, different
ways to safely start a camp fire, purifying water, setting
snares and traps, and signaling. The next day at LZ Penguin,
they practiced land navigation and night navigation in small
According to many, the most rewarding
experience for the midshipmen was on Sunday morning when
they hiked to Lost Cannon Peak. James said it was training
that MWTC had never conducted as part of their NROTC
training and no midshipmen had ever been through until now.
With an elevation of 11,050 feet, the hike up to the peak
tested the midshipmen's physical strength and mental
James said MWTC works to provide exposure
and understanding of things such as squad bay procedures,
formation procedures, accountability, uniformity, and
working as a team in order to prepare them. Through this,
the midshipmen can gauge their strengths and weaknesses.
“The staff's hard work proved to be successful at the
end of it all as they saw the midshipmen improve their
cohesion in just days,” James said.
Midshipmen, the exposure being around their peers was
another motivating factor.
Midshipman 2nd Class Ariana P. Parra, 20, from Chicago, a sociology program student and member of the University of Illinois Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit, scales a rock face in the Leavitt Training Area of Toiyabe National Forest during the top rope climbing portion of NROTC Mountain Warfare Training at the U. S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) here, July 13,
2015. Mountain warfare training is part of the Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) each summer for nine days in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is offered to NROTC and U. S. Naval Academy 2nd class midshipmen, many who are Marine-option and will be future Marine Corps officers. (U. S. Marine Corps photo courtesy MWTC)
“It was just nice to be able to see what we will become, or what
we can become,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Sophie Holmes, from the
University of New Mexico, and was one of the 210 midshipmen who
participated that came from 67 different NROTC units around the
country, plus the US Naval Academy.
“They really care about
us as people (at MWTC) and they want us to do well,” Holmes said.
“It wasn't just a yell fest, it was, ‘Hey this is how you need to do
things,' and ‘Hey we're going to take care of you while you do it.'
It exceeded my expectations.”
The NROTC program is overseen
by Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training
Command (NSTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NROTC was
established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically
and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy
core values in order to commission college graduates as naval
officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated
toward careers in the naval service and have a potential for future
development in mind and character so as to assume the highest
responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions
training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development
programs. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), NROTC at
more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command
(OTC) Newport, 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.
By Midshipmen Second Class Josefina Mancilla, Joseph Aiello and Jordan Schultz
Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs
Navy Media Content Services
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