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JROTC cadets compete in national drill meet, AF takes title
Cadet Meteo Rodriguez of the Wheeler High School JROTC Color Guard from Marietta, Ga., concentrates as his team competes in Saturday’s national drill competition. (Air Force photo by Bud Hancock)
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JROTC cadets compete in national drill meet, AF takes title

Posted 2/13/2009   Updated 2/13/2009 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Melissa Copeland
Air University Public Affairs

2/13/2009 - MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An estimated 2,500 Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets competed Saturday in the 17th National JROTC Drill Competition at Garrett Coliseum here.

Five-time national champions, Klein Collins High School AFJROTC, took the national championship once again, in addition to the Best in Air Force Drill Team award.

The Best Army Drill Team honors went to Enterprise High School, Ala., Best Marine Drill Team to Irving High School, Texas, and North Augusta High School, S.C., took Best Navy Drill Team awards.

Brig. Gen. Teresa Djuric, Holm Center for Officer Accession and Citizen Development commander, and Col. Richard Ragaller, AFJROTC director were in attendance at the event and presented awards at the closing ceremony.

Preceding the awards presentation, General Djuric addressed the cadets and shared a few thoughts.

"These young people are setting themselves up for success," she continued. "I'm very proud to be a part of this program."

In keeping with the drill theme, the general also charged the cadets with a command all her own.

"I have a very simple command for you ... to join me in thanking your parents and your instructors for everything they do for you," she said.

Family support was instrumental for one cadet who participated for the first time.

Cadet Elaina Garza, one of 30 members of Biloxi High School AFJROTC that traveled to Montgomery for the competition, credits her father as her introduction to military life.

"My father's example is what led me to join AFJROTC," she said. Her father is currently stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

Units and cadets were evaluated under various categories in facsimile inspection, regulation drill, color guard and exhibition drills, unarmed inspection, regulation drill, color guard and exhibition drills, knockout drills, armed inspection, regulation drill, color guard and exhibition drills.

Performing in the competition was the opportunity of a lifetime for another cadet.

Although the event was nerve-racking, "it was the most fun experience for me," said Cadet Lilly McEldowney, also from Biloxi AFJROTC.

Biloxi High School AFJROTC went on to place in the unarmed inspection, regulation, facsimile and demilitarized color guard categories.

The annual competition has been hosted by Robert E. Lee High School AFJROTC since 1992.

"Our event has been the model for other local high schools," said retired Maj. B. Marshall-Coleman, Robert E. Lee High School AFJROTC commander. "We were the first unit to sponsor such an event, and it's one of the largest drill meets in the nation."

With units traveling from as far away as Delaware, the event provided an opportunity to showcase the hard work of the cadets.

"They practice extremely hard throughout the year in order to compete in our event," said Major Marshall-Coleman. "They learn to work together as a team and it also gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride."

Currently, the AFJROTC program has more than 102,000 cadets participating in the program at 879 campuses world-wide.

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