CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Every summer thousands of Naval ROTC midshipmen take part in summer training programs on Navy and Marine Corps bases around the country.
The midshipmen, from NROTC units at universities throughout the United States, participate in the Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) program. CORTRAMID is a four-week summer event for midshipmen entering their second year of college as part of their school's NROTC unit. The training is set up for the midshipmen to rotate, on a weekly basis, around Marine Corps bases such as Camp Pendleton, California, or Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; or naval stations in San Diego and Norfolk to see what it could be like working aboard a ship or submarine, flying in a plane or jet or operating with a Marine unit. CORTRAMID is also held on Marine Corps bases in South Carolina and other Navy bases in Virginia, Georgia and Florida.
Midshipmen entering their junior or senior year of college with a NROTC unit also get the opportunity to participate in training aboard Navy ships, submarines, and with Navy air squadrons. Midshipmen second class are paired with an enlisted Sailor to see the daily routine of the enlisted ranks during their stay on a ship, sub or with a aviation unit. Midshipmen first class are paired with a junior officer and the wardroom to learn what will be expected of them when they get to the fleet. Junior and senior Marine-option midshipmen attend Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
More than 500 Marine- and Navy-option midshipmen toured Camp Pendleton areas and Marine Corps units during the summer. The midshipmen were broken into four groups of more than 130 for their one-week Marine Corps familiarization and training.
"We expose midshipmen to the Marine Corps during the week," said Marine Capt. Matthew Davis, a Marine officer instructor at Marquette University in Milwaukee and the 2016 operations officer for Marine Week CORTRAMID at Camp Pendleton. "We reveal how Marines train and also display the culture of the Marine Corps. Really we try to show the midshipmen how the Marine Corps trains and the many different MOSs (military occupational specialties), or jobs, there are in the Marine Corps."
During their one-week visits to Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejeune, midshipmen observed Marine aviation units, infantry and supply units, and got a chance to meet several Marine Corps enlisted personnel and officers in various MOS fields. They also were given the opportunity to watch armored tracked vehicles conduct live-fire exercises and participate in firing many of the Marine Corps' weapons such as side arms, different machine guns, sniper rifles and grenade launchers.
Camp Pendleton midshipmen also spent an overnight stay at Marine Corps Base Pendleton's Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT). The trainer is set to look like a village in the Middle East with streets, buildings and markets. Similar to walking through a paintball playing field, the midshipmen were given different scenarios to complete during their two-day stay at IIT. They worked at clearing rooms of houses and shops that had virtual reality enemies, walked down streets defending against and hunting down live snipers, and guarded against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a mock-up of a market.
"We go through a lot of planning for Marine Week," said Marine Col. Michael J. Gough, professor of naval science and commanding officer of the University of Colorado Boulder NROTC unit, as well as officer-in-charge of Marine Weeks for CORTRAMID West. "Here at Camp Pendleton I think we got exactly what we wanted to get out of Marine Week. We wanted the midshipmen to get an orientation of the Marine Corps, and understand the Marine Corps culture and see Marines. That was our number one goal -- to get the midshipmen in front of the Marines, especially enlisted Marines, they will have to lead in the future."
Marine-option Midshipman 3rd Class Mitch DiLorenzo, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a sophomore at the University of San Diego said he based his knowledge of the Marine Corps infantry off of movies.
"Being in the trainer (IIT) got my heart pumping and adrenaline going," said DiLorenzo. "This training and orientation was very important to me, because it showed me what I can expect when I get here after graduating and being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps."
Other midshipmen, both Marine- and Navy-option, felt Marine Week was very informative.
"It was a lot of fun going through Marine Week," said Navy-option Midshipman 1st Class Mark Foreman, from Sacramento, California, and a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. "It was cool to see how the Marine Corps operates. You don't get to see a lot of the Marine Corps being a Navy-option midshipman. It taught me a lot about the Marine Corps culture and their activities."
"I think it was a phenomenal opportunity to be here at Camp Pendleton during Marine Week," said Marine-option Midshipman 3rd Class Kiri Guldner, from Phoenix, and a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder. "If I could, I'd make everyone come and do this. It was incredible team-building, and it teaches life skills just being here and toughens you out mentally."
After going through Marine Week, Marine-option Midshipman 3rd Class Jasmine Scott, from Detroit, and a sophomore at Iowa State University said, "Can I be commissioned tomorrow, please? It definitely will help us as we look forward to attending OCS. Ultimately I like that we got to sleep outside, got to shoot at each other (paint guns) and were able to have leadership evaluations, and were given the chance to lead a squad."
One of the other opportunities the midshipmen received was meeting and listening to different Marine Corps flag officers.
During their orientation at Camp Pendleton, the midshipmen heard from Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. David H. Berger. Berger visited the midshipman at IIT and talked about leadership, serving the Marines and Sailors they will soon command, serving their parents and serving the country.
"Serving in the military is a privilege, is an honor," he said. "One, because of serving the nation, but two, really, truly, is about serving the Marines, serving the Sailors. That's a privilege. When the country gives you their treasured souls to train and lead, when a Mom gives you their 18-year-old, that's a huge responsibility."
Berger, a 1981 Tulane University graduate and former NROTC midshipman, said he had a blast going through CORTRAMID.
"I have learned since then that every Marine is an infantry man and no matter what technology, planes or electronic warfare there is, the last hundred meters requires a human being to close that gap against an adversary; and in that moment is when a leader steps up," added Berger.
Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans oversees the NROTC program as commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes. 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.
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development program. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, NROTC at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, Navy Junior ROTC and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NROTC, visit http://www.nrotc.navy.mil.
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