MADISON, Wis. (NNS) -- The University of Wisconsin-Madison Naval ROTC unit welcomed former NASA astronaut and retired Navy Capt. James A. Lovell for a reception at the hosted by the midshipmen in the unit's building Dec. 17.
Lovell, a keynote speaker for the Winter Commencement ceremony, returned to the unit where his career in the Navy began. As a "Flying Midshipman" Lovell attend the university from 1946 to 1948, before transferring to continue his education at the U.S. Naval Academy. During his recent visit and return, he spent some of his time with current Badger Battalion members and staff, university staff, and members of the Alumni Association. He shared stories from both his time in the Navy and at NASA, and gave advice to the future officers as they prepare themselves for commissioned service in the Navy and Marine Corps.
The unit's commanding officer, U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Murdoch, said, "We are honored that Captain Lovell took time interacting with the midshipmen here at his former unit. He is the first distinguished alumni from the University of Wisconsin Naval ROTC program, which was established the very same year Captain Lovell began his training here, and which remains in the Naval Armory at 1610 University Avenue."
Murdoch also said Lovell shared memories and leadership guidance from "his remarkable U.S. Navy career that included flying fighters from the aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La (CVS 38), and more than a decade flying spacecraft for NASA."
Many of the unit midshipmen said they enjoyed the time they spent with Lovell and learned a great deal from his stories and advice.
"It was an incredible honor to meet a national hero," said freshman Midshipman 4th Class Anabel Roza, from Seattle. "It was so motivating to hear about how he started out as a midshipman here just like us, and to see how many amazing things he accomplished."
A highlight of the visit was Lovell's retelling of the storied events of his Apollo 13 mission.
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the moon. The craft was launched April 11, 1970, at 1:13 p.m. CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later -- crippling the Service Module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to make makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth April 17.
"What stood out to me were his comments on keeping a positive mental attitude in the face of adversity," said senior Midshipman 1st Class Christopher Poellinger, from Coon Valley, Wisconsin. "I especially learned from his story about how he maintained his composure and focus on getting his men home when everything possible went wrong on Apollo 13. His comments really drove home the point in my mind that the best approach to hardships in life is to maintain a positive outlook."
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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For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.