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."