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VMI Navy ROTC trains at Smith Mountain Lake for second year

VMI Navy ROTC Midshipmen train out on Smith Mountain Lake on Sunday afternoon.
VMI Navy ROTC Midshipmen train out on Smith Mountain Lake on Sunday afternoon.(Will Thomas)
Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 8:48 PM EDT
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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - This time of year, Virginia Military Institute’s Navy ROTC is usually training in Norfolk. But due to the pandemic, that wasn’t possible in 2021.

“When talking to my buddy Colonel Craig Streeter, he said, hey what can we do at the lake?” said Jeff Prowse, owner/operator of Mitchell’s Point Marina.

That led to the training being held at Prowse’s Marina at Smith Mountain Lake in 2021 and now 2022 as well.

It’s not the Atlantic Ocean but still gives around 80 midshipmen an important hands-on experience, including nautical rules of the road training, damage control training and sea towing experience.

“VMI being a little bit far away from the ocean, we don’t have all the great resources there to do some Navy training. So it’s a great chance being able to be out here on the water,” said Lt. Daniel Franceschina, a Naval Science Instructor at VMI.

It’s all possible through community partnerships, like Mitchell’s Point Marina, Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue and Sea Tow.

“All these fire department guys, all these sea tow guys, most of them are veterans. It’s great to get the older generation, younger generation together,” said Prowse.

It’s a learning experience on the shore and off. But it’s all about working together.

“In the Navy it’s one really big team. So it’s really good to get experience and getting through the training together,” said Zachary Craven, Midshipman First Class at VMI.

For the Smith Mountain Lake community, they hope this is a tradition that continues for a long time.

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