College students experience Navy, Marine Corps training

College students experience Navy, Marine Corps training

A Midshipman tests the weight of an 81-millimeter mortar cannon barrel during Marine Week of Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen-West 2013 here June 12. Future officers from across the U.S. participated in the four-weeks of training designed to introduce them to career opportunities. Photo by Cpl Sarah Wolff-Diaz.

CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF. (June 17, 2013) - More than 500 students from colleges across the U.S. participated in the Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen-West 2013 here May 28-June 21. 

The program provides training during each week that is specific to the varying types of job fields that will be available to them as Navy and Marine Corps officers.

"They get to experience everything the Marines and sailors do, whether it's working on vehicles, running obstacle courses and having pugil stick matches or firing various weapon systems," said Sgt Jamie Rihn, a troop handler for Marine Week here.

The four-week course is broken down into Surface Week, Submarine Week, Aviation Week and Marine Week and is designed to bring these aspiring officers together from 61 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps units.

"They solidify their choice of service, and figure out what (military occupation) specialty they might want to set their goals on and work toward as they finish up their college education," said Col Patrick Looney, professor of naval science at Virginia Military Institute and the officer in charge of the program.

Much of the training the midshipmen receive during each week is about face-to-face interaction and direct mentorship with senior enlisted and officers.

"They get to see how the troop handlers, senior enlisted and officers work," said Rihn. "They also learn to be part of a team."

The level of mentorship the midshipmen receive at their schools depends on the number of students who are service members.

"Our school doesn't have a lot of (Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Educational Program students), so we don't get to interact with any of the guys we'll be leading in the future," said Midshipman 3rd Class Christopher Hans, a student at the University of Arizona.

During the program the midshipmen learn that the Marine Corps relies heavily on its staff noncommissioned officer leadership.

"We teach them that officers rely on their staff NCOs to make it happen. They have years of experience and it's a combined effort that will make the success of the team and the success of the mission," said Looney.

The midshipmen have also learned from the handlers who were noncommissioned officers.

"I learned that when you commission you're not going to know everything and you're going to have to rely on your (noncommissioned officers)," Hans said. "They taught us that it's important to show a lot of effort, be willing to put in the time, and you'll learn to lead most effectively."

During each class's week-long training sessions, students are tested mentally, physically, and are faced with combat scenarios and events that temper their will and drive. With the completion of each week they come one step closer to their current goal of being Navy and Marine Corps officers.

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