With effortless precision and beaming confidence, the midshipmen stride shoulder-to-shoulder down Columbia Street, pivoting west onto Franklin Street. Heads turn and conversations cease as folks catch sight of the members of UNC's Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in garrison hats. Although often seen in and around campus, few people really know what it means to be an NROTC student, also known as a midshipman.
Through coursework and physical and field training, midshipmen learn to lead and motivate others, and conduct military business. They also have an opportunity to earn allowances or scholarships towards their college education.
UNC's NROTC unit has commissioned hundreds of officers into the US Navy to serve on ships, submarines and aircrafts as well as into the US Marine Corps. Midshipmen are enlisted as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps when they earn their bachelor's degree and pass necessary physical requirements.
Here's to those who serve.
(photograph taken near Columbia & Franklin Streets in Chapel Hill)