The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps owes a former University president and a world war for launching a UVA chapter. In 1940, with the war in Europe raging and the US on the cusp of entering, the University was already losing students to the military. Dr. John Lloyd Newcomb, then president of UVA, requested that a Naval ROTC Unit be established on grounds. At this time, the Navy was establishing and expanding NROTC Units all over the country in order to prepare for the war. In July of 1940, President Newcomb’s request was granted. The University of Virginia became the tenth university in the country with an ROTC. That’s right, Mr. Jefferson’s University had a Naval ROTC before Army or Air Force!
Since its inauguration in 1940, the Naval ROTC program has owned two buildings, worked out of four, and seen 28 different Professors of Naval Science (PNS). Initially, the program worked from Washington Hall, Hotel B in the East Range, and used the Engineering building for the Unit’s armory. The Unit moved to Thornton Hall in 1941 and began the construction of Maury on 4 August 1941. Built for $140,000 and finished a year later, Maury Hall was officially opened for business and the Unit moved into the building it inhabits to this day.
In 1953, an armory was constructed and later dubbed Halsey Hall after Admiral “Bull” Halsey who attended UVA for two years before leaving for the Naval Academy. Halsey Hall served as an armory and a drill deck for Midshipman during inclement weather. Halsey Hall was later voluntarily handed over to the University—although the Unit grudgingly gave control of certain parts of Maury Hall in 1994. Until then, Maury was exclusively owned, operated, and used by the Navy. According to Ms. Parkinson, the PNS at the time, Captain Weber, was “very upset” but the University needed the classroom space. Since, Maury has continued to see improvements: a midshipman lounge and computer room in 1980, a new paint job, wireless Internet in 2003, and a grill and picnic tables on the observation deck (compliments of the NROTC graduates of 2005).
Over the years, Virginia’s NROTC has seen good times and bad. It has been through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the first and second Gulf Wars. The Unit got its start in WWII and was a valued part of the University for many years. It wasn’t until wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the Unit faced real adversity. Student protests around campus against the war began as a result and were sometime focused on the NROTC Unit itself. Drill was interrupted on more than one occasion by protestors. Maury Hall was even taken over and vandalized by a group of around two hundred students in 1970. Some days even Ms. Parkinson, known for her Rambo like fighting skills, said she was “afraid to come to work.” The Unit even adopted the practice of locking important files in a vault downstairs to protect them. Interestingly enough though, it was during the Vietnam War in 1968 that NROTC boasted it’s largest count of midshipmen “onboard”. Coincidentally on the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Dorothy Nichols was the Unit’s first woman to graduate and receive a commission form UVA NROTC in 1975. Also in 1972, amidst the Unit’s Vietnam era, the Unit began a popular 5-week indoctrination evolution. Called “O-Week”, the Unit continues this tradition to this day.
From the first PNS, Commander Kelly, to the current PNS, Captain Cashman, Virginia’s NROTC has produced many outstanding naval officers. Since graduating its first class of midshipmen in 1943, upwards of 2,150 midshipmen have been commissioned by the program. As each new class comes and goes, each midshipman should understand the significance of the Unit’s history. The Unit was created in response to a war and has since seen improvements as well as adversity. As the Unit has proved capable in the past, midshipman should remember that they will most likely face adversity at some point in their career, but it is our job and duty to persevere. Every midshipman that goes through the NROTC program should never forget the programs primary purpose: to produce military officers in order protect our country.
The midshipmen in the NROTC unit are organized into a battalion structure similar to that used by the United States Marine Corps. A midshipman Battalion Commander and his staff are responsible for all of the students in the program. The midshipmen not included in the Battalion Commander’s staff are organized into two companies with their own smaller group of staff members. These companies in turn are subdivided into platoons and then into the seven- or eight member squads that are the backbone of the Battalion.
Each position in the chain of command has specific responsibilities, from the Battalion Commander down to individual squad members, and the squads play an important role in the planning and execution of activities throughout the school year. Each squad is given a task to complete at the beginning of the semester, called an Operation Order. These “Op Orders” concern things like graduation ceremonies and social events with the other ROTC units at the University. This division of labor helps the Battalion run smoothly and keeps the small group of Battalion Staff from doing most of the work.
On Tuesdays the entire Battalion gathers for Leadership Lab, where midshipmen learn and practice leadership and drill skills while also working on their Op Orders. This time is also used for guest speakers and briefs on legal, political, and military issues of the day.
The Battalion structure and task delegation with Op Orders gives the midshipmen a real chance to develop their leadership style. During their time at the University, NROTC midshipmen have the chance to learn leadership in each of the different organizational levels present in the Battalion. Because of this opportunity, graduating Ensigns and Second Lieutenants find themselves well equipped to take on the important duties assigned to them when they enter the fleet.
The Unit is staffed by nine people: the commanding officer (CO), executive officer (XO), the Marine Officer Instructor (MOI), three junior officers (JO’s), one staff non-commissioned officer (Staff NCO), and two civilian assistants.
The CO is ultimately responsible for the workings of the unit. He is closely aided by the XO. The junior officers all come from different warfare communities (Naval Aviation, Surface Warfare and Submarine Warfare), bringing in a diverse wealth of knowledge. The CO, XO, and JO’s all teach Naval Science (NASC) courses and are professors and associate professors of Naval Science at the University.
The MOI leads the Marine-option platoon, a sub-unit for Marine-option midshipmen and MECEP’s. He is aided by the Staff NCO, the Assistant Marine Option Instructor (AMOI)
The current CO is a captain (O-6); the XO is a commander (O-5); the Marine Officer Instructor is a captain (O-3); the three Navy JO’s are Lieutenants (O-3); the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor is a gunnery sergeant (E-7).
The two civilian personnel handle administrative work and supply.
Naval Science Courses
- Introduction to Naval Science
- Seapower and Maritime Affairs
- Leadership and Management
- Navigation (Navy-option only)
- Ship Systems – Engineering (Navy-option only)
- Ship Systems – Weapons (Navy-option only)
- Evolution of Warfare (Marine-option only)
- Expeditionary Operations (Marine-option only)
- Naval Operations (Navy-option only)
- Leadership and Ethics
More details about cruises can be found by clicking here.
3/C Cruise (after first year)
- Navy and Marine Option: Career Orientation Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID): 3/C Midshipmen (MIDN) will spend roughly four weeks in either Norfolk, VA or San Diego, CA to get broad introduction to the Navy and Marine Corps. A week will be spent with each of the largest communities (Surface Warfare, Submarines, Aviation, and the Marine Corps). While specific training exercises change year to year, CORTRAMID consistently gives MIDN a wealth of knowledge while staying in a beautiful location.
- Nurse Option: 3/C Nurse-options go on cruise abroad, and are assigned an enlisted running mate. This cruise gives them insight into the surface navy as well as the Nurse Corps.
2/C Cruise (after second year)
- Navy Option: 2/C MIDN spend several weeks abroad in Southern Asia, the Middle East, Europe or the United States. While aboard either a surface vessel or submarine, MIDN work alongside enlisted personnel and come to better understand the surface or sub Navy.
- Marine Option: 2/C Marine-option MIDN go to Mountain Warfare School in the mountains of California. There, MIDN learn field tactics, develop leadership abilities, and come to understand further the rigors of being a Marine officer.
- Nurse Option: None
1/C Cruise (after third year)
- Navy Option: MIDN travel to varies places abroad — but unlike 2/C cruise MIDN can choose between avaiation, surface warfare, submarines, and special warfare/operations. On this cruise, MIDN work with junior officers to give them a better idea of the responsibilities they will take on one year from that point.
- Marine Option: MIDN attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, VA. OCS is a six week long evolution designed to test the leadership abilities of 1/C Marine-option MIDN. It includes intese physical activity, small unit leadership evolutions like leading squad-sized assaults, and classroom learning among other things. More information about OCS can be found by clicking here.
- Nurse Option: 1/C Nurse-option MIDN spend a portion of the summer working at one of two major Naval medical centers in either Bethesda, MD or San Diego, CA. There they will get a better appreciation for the mission of the Navy Nurse Corps as well as hands on nursing and leadership experience.
One of the main things that UVA’s NROTC unit has to offer is the University itself. Affectionately known as “Mr. Jefferson’s University” by students and faculty, UVA is one of the finest educational institutions in the country, ranking second best public university and number one best value university. Its status as a public university permits greater funding by the state and Federal governments, and as a result the on grounds facilities are well equipped and modern. The strength of the University’s academic environment has earned it nicknames like “The Harvard of the South” and “The Public Ivy.”
The high caliber of the University’s student body is reflected in the midshipmen students of the NROTC program. These future Ensigns and Second Lieutenants are extremely motivated in both academic and Battalion activities. The average midshipman GPA has remained at about 3.0, one of the highest of all NROTC units, and academic achievement is constantly emphasized as the primary focus for midshipmen.