Senior To Sail Troubled Waters

Like many seniors entering the world of investment banking and consulting, Stephen P. Bosco ’03-’04 will wear a suit to work everyday next year.

He will put in long hours and sleep in cramped quarters—when he gets any rest at all.

But unlike his Brooks Brothers-wearing classmates, Bosco will only have one blue suit in his closet, courtesy of the United States Navy.

Bosco, who took his commission as a Navy ensign in a ceremony held in Tercentenary Theater yesterday, will by the end of this month report aboard the USS Vandegrift (FFG-48), a guided missile frigate based with the Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.

After coming to Harvard and joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in a time of peace, Bosco is leaving the University to take a duty posting that could put him in the Persian Gulf and the conflict in Iraq, a potential flare-up in North Korea or even a high seas encounter with pirates.

Yet Bosco says he is undeterred. Not only did he choose the Vandegrift specifically because of the potential that the vessel will see action, he strongly supports the foreign policy that might steer it into harm’s way. Bosco says he is convinced that President Bush’s vision of the United States on the world stage is fundamentally correct.

Bosco, who is from Washington, D.C., and attended St. Albans School, says he knew he wanted to serve in the military coming into Harvard and had even thought about the Naval Academy.

“I thought it was important both for my personal development, and as a way of serving my country,” says Bosco, whose father was also in the Navy and currently works as a consultant at the Pentagon.

Even at a school where students regularly load themselves down with extracurricular commitments, Bosco and the other ROTC midshipmen have had to take on some exceptional tasks. During the year he had to wake up early twice weekly for 7:15 a.m. military science courses at MIT—which covered subjects ranging from military bearing to naval engineering—and sometimes he woke up even earlier for physical training (PT) with the marine midshipmen.

He also spent three of his summers training full time for the military. He spent one summer shadowing a mechanic on a destroyer stationed in the Adriatic Sea (“He could fix anything,” Bosco recalls), and another attached to the intelligence section aboard an amphibious vessel that had just returned from a deployment supporting operations in Afghanistan.

Bosco says that Sept. 11 has tempered the ROTC experience with the knowledge that he and his classmates could be in a real combat situation very soon.

“Sept. 11 has impressed upon people the seriousness of the job that they’ve volunteered for,” he says.

However, Bosco is nonchalant about the anti-war feelings that at times have permeated the staunchly liberal Harvard campus.

He says that among students, his ROTC service has been met with curiosity.

“I’ve found that almost without fail Harvard students think it’s really great,” he says.

Bosco says that has he been met with hostility only from members of the Faculty, which voted to end Harvard’s on-campus ROTC unit 30 years ago and continues to oppose the program because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And even these have been relatively minor incidents: disparaging comments from a knot of professors as he walked through the Yard in uniform, a debate with a teaching fellow in section.