NROTC Rochester Takes Villanova

By Joshua Nysenbaum
Student, Rochester Institute of Technology

On April 6th, the NROTC Rochester unit traveled to Villanova University to compete in its annual drill and military excellence competition. The competition is separated into three sections; drill (marching), athletics, and combat skills. Competition was fierce with fifteen extremely talented schools competing, including notables like the United States Naval Academy and Penn State University. While NROTC Rochester usually fares very well at this competition, this year exceeded all expectations with an overall point accumulation higher than anything in recent history. Rochester took 1st place overall in drill, 2nd place overall in athletics, and 3rd place overall in combat skills.

In the drill competition, Rochester took 1st in Color Guard, led by junior David Delong (UR). Rochester also took 1st in Squad Basic, led by the Battalion Commander, senior Erik Smolinski (RIT). Rochester placed 2nd in the two-man Trick Drill competition, 3rd in Platoon Trick, and 3rd in the Platoon Basic competition.  The Platoon Basic team was comprised of exclusively freshmen and had members from all of the NROTC Rochester affiliate schools: University of Rochester, RIT, St. John Fisher, and SUNY Brockport. Each team practiced relentlessly throughout the academic year and their efforts paid off; the results were fantastic.

In the athletics portion, Rochester placed 1st with a dominating performance in the 4×400 relay. Team members for this event were junior Conor Kelley (RIT), sophomore Mackenzie Gage (UR), freshman Grant Salk (RIT), and senior Olakunle Akinpelu (RIT). The Distance Medley Relay also placed 1st with the dream team of David Delong, Grant Salk, junior Daniel Palmiter (RIT), and freshman Andrew Kline (RIT). In addition, Rochester took 3rd in the 4×100 IM swim relay with team members junior Joshua Nysenbaum (RIT), freshman Luke White (RIT), freshman Giorgi Bekauri (UR), and one of Rochester’s Midnight Ramblers, sophomore Joe Thibodeau.

NROTC Rochester participated in only three events of the combat skills section, but made those appearances count. In the crossfit challenge, Rochester took both 2nd and 3rd place.  Team 1 had senior Edmond Bouillanne (UR) with sophomore Alexander Dudek (UR) and Team 2 had Conor Kelley with Olakunle Akinpelu, respectively. In one of the competition’s most difficult events, the recon challenge, the team effort made by senior Marine Option Abe McAndrew (RIT) and junior Navy Seal hopeful Ryan Baptiste (RIT) was rewarded with 2nd place.  The recon challenge is an obstacle course which included, among other things, rope climbing, a 5 ½ mile run, and a 500 meter swim, all while wearing a full combat uniform.

The NROTC Rochester Battalion has always excelled in these competitions and continues to produce some of the nation’s best Navy and Marine Corps officers. Despite their already excellent performance, the entire Battalion embraces the concept of Meliora and will continue its effort to be ever better.

In the Photo: Members of the NROTC Rochester freshman class prepare to compete in the Platoon Basic Drill Competition led by RIT sophomore Josh Nysenbaum (back to the camera).

Rochester Midshipmen Awarded at Regional Competition

NROTC Rochester – On Saturday, March 31st, the Rochester Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, composed of students from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and SUNY-Brockport, competed in the annual Villanova University Invitational Drill Meet and Military Excellence Competition. This year’s competitors consisted of old rivals such as the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and numerous northeastern Naval ROTC and Air Force ROTC units.

In the drill competition, the freshman class earned a 3rd place finish in Platoon Inspection under the command of RIT sophomore Conor Kelley. The Midshipmen did even better in the military excellence portion of the competition, earning a 1st or 2nd place finish in almost every event and a 2nd place finish overall. Among the more celebrated victories were the grueling Recon Challenge, the Distance Medley Relay, and the 4×400 Relay.

In the Recon Challenge, the toughest physical event Villanova has to offer, RIT sophomore Ryan Baptiste and RIT junior Abe McAndrew fought their way to a well-earned 2nd place finish. The challenge is conducted as a two-man team in camouflage utility uniforms, and consists of an alternating rope climb, a 5¼-mile run with various weighted packs, a stretcher carry, a combat-carry, and a 1000m fin swim. In the Distance Medley Relay, RIT freshman Daniel Palmiter, UR sophomores Anthony Paschke and David Delong, and UR junior Edmond Boulliane took the top spot.  The 4×400 team took 1st place as well.  This event included UR sophomore Anthony Paschke, UR juniors Ben Desch, Jake Godbolt, and Andrew Smith, and the captain, RIT junior Kunle Akinpelu.

Article written by MIDN 3/C Andrew Myers, a sophomore at Rochester Institute of Technology. Photo courtesy of Ross Spinelli, also a student at Rochester Institute of Technology. Both Myers and Spinelli are members of the NROTC Rochester unit.

NROTC Rochester Puts in Successful Performance at Cornell Invitational

University of Rochester Naval ROTC – On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Rochester Naval Reserve Officer Training Command (NROTC) Battalion competed in the annual Cornell University Invitational Drill Competition, composed of various drill and athletic events. Rivals at the competition included such notable military institutions as the U.S. Naval Academy, West Point, and Norwich University. Despite the disadvantage of not being a military school, the Midshipmen of Rochester’s Battalion, which includes students from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the College at Brockport, took third overall in drill events and first overall in athletic events.

Success like this does not happen overnight. For some, the training, especially for athletic events such as the 10K race, begins in the summer. For others, such as the newly inducted freshmen, the training in the discipline necessary for close-order drill begins at the start of the semester. From the flashy rifle-twirling performances of trick drill to the coordinated formations of platoon basic drill, each success in the competition represented many hours spent learning and perfecting the various movements and routines. The hard work especially paid off for the freshmen, who faced the tall order of continuing Rochester’s history of success in both Platoon Drill events. In the notoriously high-pressure Platoon Inspection, a nerve-wracking detailed inspection by professional Marine drill instructors, the team of freshmen, led by RIT junior Erik Smolinski, came away with an unquestioned first-place, even against older, more experienced teams from full-time military schools. They then performed a highly coordinated drill routine in the Platoon Basic Drill event, and while many of the students came to Rochester’s battalion with no prior drill experience, they earned a third-place finish.

Also competing in the drill portion of the competition were Rochester’s Color Guard and Trick Drill teams. Both represent a substantial increase in difficulty, requiring members to learn the more complex movements and routines. Rochester’s trick team, formed only a few years ago, showed marked improvement over years past, bringing more experienced members and better routines to the competition. The Color Guard teams proudly and professionally represented the battalion, but unfortunately due to confusion with the routine, neither team placed at this competition.

In the athletic events, Rochester either won or placed in every event. The 4×400 team, led by UR junior Ben Desch, finished first in their heat, but were beat by one other team who ran faster in the next heat, ultimately coming away with a second-place finish. In the pool, Rochester’s swimmers, captained by UR sophomore Trevor DeVisser, dominated the competition, taking first-place in all three relay events (4×100 Free, 4×100 IM, and Crescendo). UR sophomore David DeLong and UR junior Ed Boullianne also performed well, placing second and ninth respectively in the 10K race.

The longest and most grueling event was the Ironman competition. Unlike the famous triathlon, this was an event designed to test the all-around fitness of the teams, composed of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a 500-yard swim, and a 3-mile run. The competition was neck-and-neck, but when all the scores were tallied, Rochester came out on top for the first-place finish.

Rochester’s Midshipmen were proud to return home at the end of the competition, having performed well and continuing Rochester’s history of success at the Cornell University Invitational Drill Competition.

Article and photo courtesy of Andrew Myers and David Donaldson, NROTC members.

Rochester Undergrad Receives Legion of Valor for NROTC Performance

Univ. Communications – Michael Krestos, a senior at the University of Rochester, was recently awarded the Legion of Valor of the United States of America, one of the Navy’s highest awards for excellence in military service among Midshipmen. Krestos, who is a Midshipman in the University of Rochester’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Command (NROTC) unit, is one of only six students out of a thousand nominees to receive the Legion of Valor award. He is the first University of Rochester student in the NROTC unit’s history to have been given this honor.

“Midshipman Krestos goes above and beyond whatever is asked of him,” said Capt. Jeff Bartkoski, the unit’s Commanding Officer. “He exemplifies the values that Navy officers strive to uphold: honor, courage, and commitment.”

The NROTC is a rigorous program where students take naval classes and physical training in addition to a full academic course load. Upon graduation, students are commissioned as officers in Navy or Marine Corps and serve a five to nine year commitment, depending on whether they serve on a plane, ship, or submarine.

Krestos, who is a resident of Buffalo, N.Y., has the highest aptitude score of any midshipmen in the NROTC unit. Naval aptitude is calculated based on a midshipman’s grades, physical performance, and a ranking of leadership abilities by the unit’s officers.  A mechanical engineering major, he also has one of the highest grade point averages in the unit in both his NROTC and academic classes. He has excelled physically, scoring in the top 20 percent of his peers this past spring and in the top ten percent in the previous semester.

Among his achievements, his superiors said that Krestos’ main contributions to the unit are the endless hours he has devoted to serving the unit in various capacities. In his freshman year, he was named Charlie Company guide on, essentially the highest ranked fourth-class Midshipman. Throughout his college years, he also worked as the unit’s Assistant Public Affairs Officer (APAO), Platoon Commander, Adjutant and currently serves as Charlie Company’s Commanding Officer.

The Navy has accepted Krestos into its exclusive submarine community, an honor that only ten percent of midshipmen pursue each year. Next summer, Krestos will head to Charleston, South Carolina for nuclear power training, and later to a submarine in Connecticut, Virginia, Georgia, California, Hawaii, Washington, or Guam. Eventually, Krestos will be in charge of running a nuclear reactor and piloting a $3 billion machine.

“It’s a tall order, but he is up to the challenge,” said Capt. Bartkoski. “If Midshipman Krestos continues to work hard, we are confident that his talents will be a huge benefit to the Navy and his country.”