It seems like only yesterday that the members of the Naval Reserve Officer
Training Corps (NROTC) Unit at the State University of New York Maritime College witnessed the September11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and civil society. Located on the tip of the Throggs Neck peninsula, almost directly below the Throggs Neck Bridge and in direct sight of the Manhattan skyline, the Unit had a clear view of the tragedy.
While the sticking pain and sorrow caused by the tragedy remains with the Unit, it has experienced changes from a year ago that reflect the country’s renewed emphasis on national security and deepening appreciation for firefighters and other emergency rescue personnel. According to CDR Allen Stubblefield, commanding officer of the only NROTC in New York City, the Unit’s enrollment is at an all-time high. More than 150 students are enrolled in the NROTC officer-training program, an increase of 35 since September 11, 2001, and the highest in the command’s 29-year history. The NROTC Unit includes students from SUNY Maritime College as well as other university’s including Fordham University.
“Without a doubt, our increased enrollment can be linked to the attack on the World Trade Center,” said CDR Stubblefield. Other contributing factors include the 40 percent increase in enrollment at SUNY Maritime college since 2000 and the U.S. Navy’s continued emphasis on informing high school students of the opportunities in the Naval ROTC program. Financially, students in the NROTC program will receive over $1 million dollars in educational benefits this year. The September 11 terrorist attacks intensified the purpose for enrolling, while inspiring others to a new mission. CDR Allen Stubblefield, reminisced, “We witnessed the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center almost a year ago from the SUNY Maritime College campus
. Every one of my midshipmen knew their obligation took on a whole new meaning.”
“In fact, one of our midshipmen decided he wanted to be a New York City fireman, so he left the program- I couldn’t think of any better reason to leave. On the other hand, the one hundred plus who stayed, including one who was only three blocks from the tragedy, fleet they wanted to do their part by serving in the Navy and Marine Corps.”