The UW-Madison Naval ROTC Battalion attended the 2017 Villanova Military Excellence Competition on April 8 in Philadelphia, placing fifth overall out of 18 teams.
No group traveled farther than the 36 midshipmen from Wisconsin. After a 15-hour bus ride, the Badgers demonstrated their motivation and teamwork in three categories: drill, athletics, and combat skills.
UW fielded four teams in the drill competition. The squad drill team, led by Midshipman 4th Class Zachary Kielar, from Brookfield, Wisconsin, and the platoon drill team, led by Midshipman 2nd Class Daniel Kuhn, from Westfield, N.J., each placed third in their events.
“I was really proud of how our platoon performed,” says Kuhn. “We only had a couple weeks to prepare, but everyone was willing to put in the time and effort during early morning practices to make ourselves competitive at Villanova. The fact that we came in third place among so many competitors is a testament to the platoon’s hard work and the guidance of Gunnery Sergeant Olivas and Staff Sergeant Armstrong.”
The students competed in basketball, swim, and track for the athletic portion of the event and finished third of 13 teams. They particularly excelled at the 4×100 meter and 4×400 meter relay, led to second place finishes in each by team captain Midshipman 3rd Class Joseph Unrein of Milwaukee.
The Badgers demonstrated their grit and determination in the final category, combat skills, finishing fourth of 13 teams. Midshipman 3rd Class Sean Gohlke, from Janesville, led the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer team to a first place finish. The Mogadishu Mile team, captained by Midshipman 1st Class John Brueckbauer from Mundelein, Illinois, fought hard for their third place trophy.
“It was a tough race and we knew it would be,” says Brueckbauer. “After about 20 minutes of thinking through different strategies and attempting to outsmart the race, we decided the best way to win was to do the same thing as every other team, just faster. It turned out pretty well, especially considering most of us had competed in at least one other athletic event prior.”
In the coming years, the midshipmen will participate in multiple military activities and complete a rigorous course of study at UW–Madison. Upon graduation and completion of the NROTC program, the midshipmen will be commissioned as active duty officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.
— Midshipman 3rd Class Jackson Lanigan