July 10, 2014, MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Every year, United States Naval Academy midshipmen have the opportunity to step into the boots of their Marine counterparts during a program called PROTRAMID or Professional Training for Midshipmen, with Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Following their second year of schooling in Annapolis, Md., the midshipmen rotate through several week-long evolutions with each different service community in the Navy. This includes Naval Aviation, Navy SEALS, Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, and the United States Marine Corps.
“The PROTRAMID programs’ intent is to help us make educated decisions about which community we will be most successful in and what type of people we’re going to be leading some day,” said Midshipman Paige Ward, 19, 1st Platoon Commander, 2nd block, Company F, from Massillon, Ohio.
During Marine Week, they get a taste of life as an enlisted Marine.
“We kind of do a highlight reel of what the Marines do.” Said Sgt. Alicia Taccetta, 28, combat engineer, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I MEF, from Phoenix, Ariz. “They do the gas chamber, rappel tower, small arms, demo range, go to the recruit depot and go to the field overnight.”
The program aims to expose midshipmen to different facets of the Navy-Marine Corps team to better prepare them for future leadership positions.
“It’s know your Marines and look out for their welfare,” said Taccetta. “How can they lead their troops and know what they’re going through, unless they’re at least familiar with it? It helps them make a better decision on which service they want to choose and makes them better officers overall, because they’ve seen what we do on our side.”
Marine Week is designed to midshipmen select between becoming Marine or Naval officers. Marines from different Military Occupational Specialties guide them throughout the week.
“There’s always going to be differences between whatever communities you’re in,” said Ward. “Just different personalities, the way things are run and obviously the lingo. But, what I’ve seen with the Marines is everyone takes so much pride in what they’re doing and they just really value getting the job done, always being on top of their game and being motivated, which I appreciate.”
At the beginning of their senior year, the midshipmen will rank their preferences of which community they’d like to join. Ultimately, the Navy and Naval Academy choose where they will go based on the needs of the Navy and the Marine Corps.
Following the PROTRAMID, the midshipmen sign their commitment to spend two more years at the academy for seven total years in service. After those two years they are commissioned and then attend The Basic School for Marine officers or Officer Development School for Naval officers.