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Navy ROTC Officer receives national honor

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Navy ROTC Officer receives national honor

Donovan Lyon was ranked second in the Order of Merit for NROTC.

Donovan Lyon was ranked second in the Order of Merit for NROTC.

Photo by Claire Gallagher

Donovan Lyon was ranked second in the Order of Merit for NROTC.

Photo by Claire Gallagher

Photo by Claire Gallagher

Donovan Lyon was ranked second in the Order of Merit for NROTC.

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Donovan Lyon, midshipman first class and senior in the College of Health Sciences, was recently ranked second overall nationally for the Naval Reserve Officers; Training Corps. in the Order of Merit, a ranking system that measures academics physical training, and Naval aptitude.

Two hundred and fifty one other future surface warfare officers from 77 different universities were also ranked.

Navy ROTC is a program that educates and trains qualified young men and women for service in the Navy. The NROTC Scholarship Program produces the largest source of Navy officers and plays a massive role in preparing young adults for leadership in the Navy, according to the Marquette NROTC website.

Lyon’s dedication and sacrifice in ROTC classes and drills was noticed by Marquette assistant professor of naval science and class adviser Lt. Michael Balistreri. Balistreri was Lyon’s professor last semester and interacts with Lyon as the surface warfare adviser. He’s known Lyon for about two years and noticed Lyon’s outstanding abilities as a midshipman and member of the community.

“(Lyon) excels in each of the three aspects of our mission: moral, mental and physical. Academically, he is the top of his class in Marquette NROTC and No. 2 in the country in overall Order of Merit for Ship Selection,” Balistreri said in an email. “Midshipman Lyon was second in the nation because of his sustained, superior performance. It isn’t uncommon for undergraduate students to have one or a few standout semesters, but he has consistently performed in the top tier.”

The Order of Merit is more than just a ranking; it offers the NROTC students the opportunity to choose which station they would like to be posted after they graduate college, Lyon and Boeckmann said.

Lyon said the selection process works differently than a normal military draft.

“It’s really the only time in your career you get to choose which ship you’re going to if you’re ranked high enough,” Lyon said. “It kind of works like a sports draft where you get to pick where you go based on your rank. I was very fortunate to be ranked where I was which allowed me to take my first choice.”

Lyon will be posted on the USS Ross, a destroyer from Rota, Spain, next year as a nuclear surface warfare officer. He made his decision based on several factors, mainly his hope for the Navy’s impact on other countries. 

“I knew I wanted to be forward deployed, which is stationed overseas,” Lyon said. “I think it’s really important to display to the rest of the world that the Navy is a global force for good.”

In the Order of Merit, the ranking comes from each ROTC student’s academics, physical training, and naval aptitude. Beyond the physical training each week in the morning, the NROTC midshipmen go through several different genres of courses.

Lyon said they have a naval science class each semester. Freshman year, they take naval history. Then, they take navigations, ship systems, weapons systems, and other engineering based classes. They also leadership and ethics courses, which is a big part of their ROTC education, Lyon said. 

Lyon also mentioned the different activities the NROTC students take part in every week. They have sessions on Thursdays where they are briefed about different topics in the Navy. 

“It’s really anything. It might be on safety. It could be on responsible drinking or on sexual assault prevention,” Lyon said.

ROTC students are constantly busy with physical, mental and moral training, Lyon said, and the balance is important. Midshipman and senior in the College of Engineering Taylor Boeckmann said a main part of the ranking for the Order of Merit is determined by the academic portion of ROTC training. 

Boeckmann is a friend of Lyon’s and said Donovan has shown a strong work ethic and dedication during their years together at Marquette.

“A large degree of that ranking is academics and (Lyon) studies ridiculously hard. He works harder than anybody you’ll meet here,” Boeckmann said. “He’s also very naturally smart. Those two things in combination is what (the ranking) is.”

Lyon said he uses a tactic to balance the stress that the NRTOC schedule can provide. 

“I like to take things day by day. You can get really stressed if you start looking really far in advance,” Lyon said. “I just need to remind myself that it’s doable. I’ve dealt with difficult situations in the past. You just have to have the right mindset.”

In his career, Lyon said he hopes for the deterrence of violence before it happens.

“We want to prevent violence at all costs by showing other countries our projection of power, our display of what we have to offer,” Lyon said. “It really does prevent violence despite what some people may think.”

Lyon currently serves as an academics officer in his NROTC unit at Marquette. In that role, he supervises the studies and tutoring of anyone who might need academic assistance throughout the year in NROTC, Balistreri explained in an email.

Balistreri said Lyon can have an impact on others in his community, as well as locally in the Marquette ROTC.

“For our underclass midshipmen, Lyon’s dedication to the program clearly shows them that hard work, intelligence and being willing to develop pays dividends in terms of providing more opportunities that would be unavailable to the majority of students,” Balistreri said in an email.

“Within our own program, he is well-respected, but also outside of our local unit of NROTC,” Balistreri said. “For example, his younger sister and mother both attended the ship selection ceremony and his sister shared that she looked up to her brother and was proud of him.”

After Marquette, Lyon will go through basic division’s officer course in Norfolk, Virginia, with other NROTC officers in his battalion before being deployed to his position in Rota on the USS Ross.

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