The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs at Rensselaer are elective programs for students who desire commissions in the armed forces. The objective is to develop professional officers who have varied educational backgrounds in major fields of interest and have the professional knowledge and standards needed for future growth. Last month, the midshipmen of Naval ROTC gathered to celebrate the 75th anniversary since the founding of the unit.
The event, held during Reunion & Homecoming weekend, served as an opportunity for both the midshipmen and alumni and alumnae to revel in the camaraderie of the unit. The Oct. 8 ceremony, which was held in the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center, included unit staff, midshipmen, alumni and alumnae, special guests, and Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.
Speakers included Midshipmen Commanding Officer, MIDN 1/C Benjamin Lovejoy; the Commanding Officer, Capt. Daniel D. Arensmeyer, USN; and President Jackson, who discussed the evolution of the unit, from the flight preparatory school in the basement of the Greene Building, to the current wardroom and facilities that the unit occupies today.
“The first thing I noticed stepping toward the podium was the amount of history in the room,” said Lovejoy. “With RPI alumni and alumnae who graduated over 70 years ago in the same space, the sea stories and lessons that they shared with us had to be experienced firsthand or they’re simply incomplete. Such experiences cannot be taught in a classroom. The most important aspect that this event provided for all current midshipmen is perspective. It reminds me of a line in the sailor’s creed, ‘I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me.’ The 75th anniversary put a face to those who have gone before me, and I believe that is an invaluable experience that you simply can’t get anywhere else.”
“Whether they go on to serve as aviators, surface warfare officers, submariners, marines, special forces, or naval reactors engineers, our graduates have a reputation for excellence,” said Capt. Arensmeyer. “For our alums, you can be very proud of the legacy that you have established.”
Following the remarks, a plaque was dedicated to honor the 75 years of camaraderie and unit pride.
Whether they go on to serve as aviators, surface warfare officers, submariners, marines, special forces, or naval reactors engineers, our graduates have a reputation for excellence. For our alums, you can be very proud of the legacy that you have established.”
In keeping with NROTC tradition, attendees had an opportunity to witness a special ceremony known as the “cutting of the cake,” which was led by the youngest midshipman present, MIDN 4/C Louis Catalano, and oldest alumnus present, Edward Miller ’46, who cut a slice from the cake. This act symbolizes the passing of tradition from one generation to the next as well as the timeless commitment and camaraderie instilled in the United States armed forces.
The ROTC program at Rensselaer has a long and distinguished history, beginning in 1941, when, three months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Naval unit was commissioned. In 1947, the Army unit began, with an affiliation with the Corps of Engineers, Transportation Corps, and Signal Corps. Two years later, the Air Force detachment was added. It now serves as the host unit for cadets at 22 regional colleges and universities—drawing primarily from Siena College, University at Albany, Williams College, Hudson Valley Community College, and, of course, Rensselaer.
Lovejoy further noted that the ceremony was a wonderful opportunity to bear witness to the unit’s motto of “It’s our legacy, define it, shape it, make it happen!”
“The NROTC unit here at RPI is one filled with unforgettable memories, rich history, and the courageous men and women who are proud to answer our nation’s call and serve in the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” he said.
Written by MIDN 2/C Mitchell Busa