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Sunday May 16th

Three years later, Naval ROTC students celebrate receiving service assignments

Katy Strong, a senior midshipman at the UNC Naval ROTC, poses for a portrait in the ROTC Armory on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. After graduation, Strong will complete her Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation, at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Buy Photos Katy Strong, a senior midshipman at the UNC Naval ROTC, poses for a portrait in the ROTC Armory on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. After graduation, Strong will complete her Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation, at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Amid a year filled with frequent cancellations due to a pandemic, Naval ROTC seniors recently found a reason to celebrate — the ROTC seniors at UNC received news of their service assignments for post-graduation.

The Naval ROTC program at UNC offers students the opportunity to attend the University while working toward a commission in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps. Seniors received their assignments three weeks ago, celebrating together outside with safety precautions in place.

Service assignment is based on the evaluation of academic performance, physical training test, leadership and students’ preferences, senior Midshipman Andrew Rivers said.

Rivers said NROTC seniors filled out a form to indicate their preference for job positions in the Navy, and their advisers helped them to send these to the Navy. Then, different forces, such as the submarine force and the aviation force in the Navy, would select the candidates that meet their requirements, he said. 

Rivers said he got his service assignment as a pilot — as he always wanted.

“I wanted to be a pilot since I could talk," he said. "It's been the only thing that I've ever known."

Rivers said he tried to get good grades in the past three years to achieve his goal. He said he had to take a test similar to the SAT. The first half of the test had math, reading and history questions. The second half, kind of like a video game, he said, tests things like hand-eye coordination, memorization skills and sense of direction.

Rivers learned of his service assignment by a phone call at work.

“It was really funny, I got this great news that I wanted to hear for my entire life; minutes later, I was washing dishes,” he said. “It is very surreal.” 

Lieutenant Adviser Christopher Moreno said the service assignment results are typically released a couple weeks earlier but were slightly delayed this year, potentially due to the pandemic and the fact that 2020 is an election year.

“Different communities have different demands on who they need, so there were a little bit more, I guess, calculations in terms of who's going where to ensure that all communities across the Navy and Marine Corps are balanced,” he said.

Senior Midshipman Katy Strong, who also received her service assignment as a pilot, said everyone preparing to be a Navy officer got their service assignment at the same time. She said they were together with safety precautions in place and were notified by their captain one by one in his office about where they would be heading after graduation. 

She said a lot of her classmates are roommates who live in pairs or in threes, so they did a small gathering outside with each other that night, spaced out and wearing masks, to celebrate that they made it after three years' hard work.

“I couldn't be more excited,” Strong said. “I came into the program kind of not knowing what to expect. And my interest kind of waxed and waned a little bit, but it was very much constant throughout the entire time I was here.”

Rivers said that even though they have already gotten their service assignments, there are still expectations for the next semester. He said he would try to be a good example and role model to help younger students, and maintain physical fitness to prepare for his new position.

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