CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES
Nearly 400 Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students from universities across the country are visiting Camp Pendleton this month to participate in the annual Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen program.
Marines from 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, are hosting the midshipmen ensuring they see all aspects of the Corps, from static displays to live-fire exercises.
5/11 will have four different groups of midshipmen training, each group lasting a week. The first Marine week consisted of training exercises including patrolling basics, amphibious landings, and weapons handling.
The orientation program introduces groups of midshipmen to surface, submarine, aviation, and Marine Corps warfare specialties a week at a time by visiting different training locations across Southern California.
“On a larger level the program exposes the midshipmen to the Marine Air Ground Task Force and where it fits into naval services,” said Col. Stephen R. Dinauer, commanding officer of NROTC at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The NROTC students also participated in pugil stick bouts, martial arts instruction and improvised explosive device lane training.
“It gives them a general orientation of a Marine’s life,” said Capt. Adam C. Gugelmeyer, operations officer for 5/11. “The students that I saw were doing great. They were excited about participating in the events.”
This is the first time many midshipmen participate in any type of combat-oriented training. The week is also the first time most fired weapons including machine guns and grenade launchers.
“This week has been very demanding, but very exciting,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Steven J. Howard, a sophomore at Georgia Institute of Technology. “This live fire exercise was a lot of fun.”
Howard enrolled into the NROTC program with eyes set on becoming a commissioned officer in the Navy. He said after spending this week training with the Marines, it made him think about choosing to become a Marine officer instead.
“It’s totally different from anything I’ve ever seen before,” said Howard, 18, from Oakton, Va. “Camp Pendleton is huge, and it’s blown my mind running around it.”
While at Camp Pendleton, midshipmen had the opportunity to experience military customs and courtesies first hand as they were mentored by enlisted leaders and junior commissioned officers. Working with the Marines allowed the midshipmen to understand how Marine noncommissioned officers work, their mentality, and what they expected from their leaders.
Dinauer said midshipmen interacted with NCOs, staff NCOs and junior officers to understand leadership traits and experience Marines of different ranks working together.
“I’ve had a lot of things I didn’t know explained to me. This is very intense, much more intense than anything we’ve done before,” Howard said. The training he has engaged in for the past week is different from what he is used to in the classroom.
From firing weapons for the first time, to establishing a bivouac on a mountain the week formed experiences most midshipmen might never encounter again.
If the midshipmen don’t serve with the Marine Corps then they at least got a good of what it’s like, Dinauer said.
Founded in 1926, the NROTC Program was established to educate and train qualified young men and women for leadership and management positions for service as commissioned officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.
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