Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 31, 2017
Regimental training week kicks off MMA school year
by Monique Labbe
The Maine Maritime Academy campus came alive last week with the sounds of MUG week, as a new batch of freshmen (deemed Midshipmen Under Guidance until a ceremony in October) in the regimental program underwent a rigorous week of introductory training.
The Regimental Preparatory Training requires the students to move aboard the T/S State of Maine for the first week, living together with their companies, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta. The students went through drills, performed tasks on and off the ship, and concluded the week with the annual convocation ceremony on August 28, where President Brennan and other academy and town representatives welcomed students both new and old back to campus.
During convocation, Brennan asked the students why he had jumped into the water with them the day before during the annual ship jump event. The students had been required to perform a jump off the dock into Castine Harbor and make their way to shore, showing aptitude in their training for what to do if they were ever required to jump ship at sea.
“Is it because I enjoy jumping into sub-arctic waters at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning?” asked Brennan. “I do it to show unity, because here at MMA, we are all a family, and we all jump together. That is part of what your training will teach you.”
For Blaine Fuller of Florida, a MUG with the Alpha company, being submerged in those sub-arctic waters was a “shock to the system.”
“The jump wasn’t so bad, because back home I used to jump off really high diving boards,” he said while drinking a cup of hot coffee after the jump. “But the water was cold, and this is from somebody who went to the Bahamas a lot. The water feels like bath water. It doesn’t here.”
Regarding the training he had received thus far, Fuller said that the first couple of days were difficult, and that it was an adjustment to get used to the commanding officers making demands, yelling instructions and having structured schedules every hour of the day.
“It took some getting used to, but once you get into a groove it gets better,” he said. “As the week progressed they kind of let up on us because we were doing what we were supposed to.”
For Commandant of Midshipmen Nathan Gandy, the training is an important piece in transitioning the students from high school to the independence of college life, as well as introducing them to the regimental life they have decided to pursue.
“On the one hand, you’re taking a large group of men and women who have an idea of what they want to do [regimentally], but don’t have a lot of knowledge associated with that,” he said. “We try to show them how to start on a path of learning critical elements of a unique environment. Secondly, these are students who, like any other college freshman, are transitioning from not having someone to tell them do their homework, to take a shower, to get up for class. We want them to be independent. We teach those ‘adulting’ pieces, as the kids put it.”
One of the highlights of the first week of the training was the MUG Olympics, during which the four companies competed against each other in events such as a dummy drag relay, Frisbee distance throw, running races and a keg pull. Charlie company pulled out the win, while Delta and Bravo tied for second.