NROTC Battalion at Penn Celebrates 238 Years of Naval History

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto | | 215-898-4820October 16, 2013

With an early morning six-mile run through the streets of Philadelphia, the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Pennsylvania commemorated the Navy’s 238th birthday, Oct. 16.

More than 80 runners from Penn and from Drexel and Temple universities who are currently serving as officer candidates in the NROTC battalion marked the occasion with a journey that started and finished at Franklin Field, long before most civilians even heard their alarm clocks.

They stopped at three historic sites of naval importance to lay a wreath and say a few words.

The unit’s commanding officer, Col. Andrew Wilcox led the runners. He has served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps for 28 years.

“The NROTC’s Philadelphia monument run is significant because of Penn’s historic ties with each of the military branches,” Wilcox says. “The first commandant of the Marine Corps, Maj. Samuel Nicholas, attended Penn until 1752, and the first secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, graduated in 1777.”

The Philadelphia NROTC Consortium’s executive officer, Commander Karl Garcia has served as a naval flight officer for 20 years.  He says the entire battalion comes out for the run. 

“The battalion city run is a unique opportunity for our midshipmen to develop a connection to the origins of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, and to those who have lost their lives in the defense of our nation,” Garcia adds.

The first stop on their run was the Maj. Samuel Nicholas burial site at the Arch Street Friends Meeting House, near 4th Street.

A native of Slingerlands, N.Y., midshipman second class Matthew Weber has been a member of Penn’s NROTC unit since 2011.  Now a junior at Wharton, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps when he graduates in 2015.

“Being able to run through the city and visit memorials and grave sites is a great way to honor some of the past leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps,” Weber says.

“Running through the city to its many sacred Navy and Marine Corps sites serves as a physical reminder of our long and rich history with the City of Philadelphia,” Wilcox says.

Midshipman second class Lydia Miller is a senior majoring in political science and science, technology and society

“The six-mile run is my favorite physical training evolution, besides beating Army ROTC in flag football, because camaraderie is at an all-time high,” says Miller, who also plays on the varsity women’s lacrosse team.  “It kicks off before the sun has risen and our whole battalion runs through the city, yelling cadences together. Paying tribute to our fallen Sailors and Marines who dedicated their lives to ensuring our freedom is the least we can do.”

Miller, a native of Warrenton, Va., has been a member of Penn’s NROTC program for nearly three years and hopes to become a surface warfare officer on a destroyer or a cruiser based out of Rota, Spain, or San Diego, Calif.

After serving in NROTC at Penn, officer candidates earn their commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

The run marks the Navy’s birthday, and the occasion when in October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the creation of the Continental Navy.