This story was submitted by CDR Dan "Chilly" Buhr, Executive Officer in the United States Navy and adjunct assistant professor of Naval Science.
In early March, ten midshipmen from the Iowa State Naval ROTC Cyclone Battalion traveled to the University of Notre Dame for the 20th Annual Naval Leadership Weekend. Thirty-two NROTC programs from all over the United States participated in the event. During the weekend the midshipmen had the rare opportunity to learn from several high ranking members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Some of those who spoke include Sergeant Major Sowers, Marine Corps training command Sergeant Major, Vice ADM Tighe, Commander of U.S. Tenth Fleet, Admiral William Gortney, Commander of U.S. Northern Command, Admiral Michael Rodgers, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the NSA, and Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. They all provided great insight to what it takes to be an effective leader and military officer. The midshipmen who attended, many of them seniors, will soon commission as officers in the Navy or Marine Corps, and these new lessons in leadership will be immediately applicable in new demanding roles as officers.
After attending the Leadership Conference, each midshipman was able to positively reflect on the unique experience. Midshipman First Class Leah Vander Boon, a Spring 2015 graduate, particularly enjoyed ADM Howard’s speech because “she is an inspiration to all members of the military, especially females.” Midshipman Second Class Nick Fichter thought the conference improved unit cohesion and boosted moral. He particularly liked ADM Rodgers point to “never compromise your integrity for the Navy.” Moral courage and standing up for what you believe in was a common topic amongst the speakers. These talks opened up the minds of the Midshipman to what a military career entails. Midshipman First Class Levi Jorgensen said, “it was an honor to learn about leadership from men and women who have given decades of their lives to the naval service.” Jorgensen particularly appreciated ADM Rogers point that “the Navy is not a job, but a way of life.” Vice ADM Tighe, commander of U.S. Tenth Fleet, made a very powerful point that, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” This hit home with Midshipman First Class Connor Henkle, “It’s a daunting task to give your absolute best each and every day, but after this weekend it is apparent that a good military officer will find a way.” Another highlight from the Leadership Weekend was meeting and interacting with the midshipman from around the country. Midshipman First Class Taya Ohms, a December 2015 graduate, “appreciated the opportunity to meet the people experiencing the same challenges in preparing for the Naval Reactors interview process.”
Sgt. Major Sowers, summed it all up when he stressed the importance of a professional relationships between the officers and the enlisted. According to him, a good leader finds a way to take care of their sailors and marines and to create an environment for them to be effective ethically, morally, and professionally. This and the many other points conveyed over the weekend were eye opening for all those who attended. As future officers, we are going to be the ones making the decisions and leading sailors and marines. The core values and skills presented to us this weekend by current Navy and Marine Corp leaders will be vital as we step into our role as the Navy’s future leaders.