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Junior ROTC Unit Hits DC!

Cadets undergo inspection at Air Force Nations Drill Competition.

-Preamble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Wall was just one of many memorials that were visited by the Air Force Junior ROTC unit from Piedmont and Porter Ridge High Schools on their recent Washington DC trip.

The students left for Washington DC on Thursday, March 24th and over the course of the next 4 days, they visited 4 states as well the District of Columbia.

The first stop was Virginia where they toured the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. The little town of Bedford, VA was selected for this grand national monument because proportionally this community suffered the nation's severest D-Day losses, losing 23 of its 30 young soldiers from the Bedford Company. Congress elected to build the D-Day Memorial here because it represents all towns across the USA, small and large, where citizen-soldiers served on D-Day.

The next two stops were colleges in Virginia. The students toured the military museum at Virginia Military Institute and ate dinner at James Madison University – where they got a taste of the college life – literally (JMU was ranked 3rd in the nation for their dining services).

On Friday the cadets participated in the annual Air Force Nationals Drill Competition featuring some of the best drill teams in the nation with over 30 schools in attendance. It is not an easy road to reach a national drill competition and every competing cadet receives a medal and certificate. There were many events in this competition. Events where split into unarmed and armed teams with the armed teams carrying the approximately 10 pound Daisy Drill rifle (a facsimile of the legendary 1903 Springfield rifle. Overall the cadets performed admirably but did not crack into the top five spots that receive trophies. The drill instructors are the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor, Captain Louis Werder, and the Aerospace Science Instructor Master Sergeant Heinz Schweinsberger. The Armed Drill team was lead by Cadet Captain Brad Hinson, and the Unarmed Drill Team was lead by cadets Lt. Colonel Laura Tadeo and Captain Chris Garcia. The Deputy Group Commander James Floyd stated, “I’m proud to be in this JROTC unit, I don’t care if we get first or last in a national drill competition, because at least we know we made it here, which makes us one of the best.” Captain Werder stated that this was a learning experience that familiarizes the cadets with national competitions, shows them what they are up against, and gives them more motivation for future drill competitions.

Cadet Jackson receiving his 2nd Place Individuals medal.The one shining bright star at the drill meet was the coveted Individual Drill Routines (commonly called the Knockout competition by the cadets). During this competition all of the cadets in attendance assemble on the floor at the same time and are slowly “knocked out” of the competition by the 20 to 30 judges that move up and down the lines of the assembled cadets observing the position of hands and feet during the calling of the various drill commands. With over 1000 cadets on the floor at the same time, one cadet from Union County, Daniel Jackson, took 2nd place overall honors. Cadet Jackson said, “I was not so confident at first, but when I saw more people get out, and they weren’t me, I felt more and more confident.” We are all proud of him as he gave our unit a great boost and represented us well.

Following the drill meet, the students toured the National Mall where they stopped at the Jefferson Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Einstein Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. As a class assignment, all the students on the field trip were assigned a location, memorial, or person to brief to the rest of the class. The stops were highlighted by these informational briefings and the students gained valuable insights into the memorials, notable figures, and generals on the battlefields.

On their last day of touring the students visited Gettysburg and Antietam National Battlefields. A guided tour of the battlefields in Pennsylvania and Maryland was conducted and several sights allowed the students to disembark and move amongst the cannon and statuary – like Little Round Top and the site of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, and Bloody Lane and Burnside Bridge at Antietam. The last stop of the day was Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the students learned of the ill-fated attempt of abolitionist John Brown’s overthrow and seizure of the town’s armory.

One of the best museums visited was the last stop on the return trip home: the United States Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, Va. World class exhibits and interactive displays showed the Marine Corps history throughout their many engagements in United States history.

The field trip was a huge success. All the cadets had a great time and a lot of fun and are looking forward to a return trip to the Nationals competition. Their next drill competition is on April 30th, the Union County Games, which will be hosted by Piedmont this year. All schools in Union County with Junior ROTC detachments will be in attendance (Sun Valley, Parkwood, Monroe, Piedmont/Porter Ridge, and Forest Hills). The final performance of the year for the Piedmont and Porter Ridge teams will be the Annual Pass-In-Review on their Awards Night (May 10th) before the parents and the presenters of the National Awards.

Written by: Public Affairs Officer Cadet Captain Chris Garcia
Posted: Mar 31, 2011 by Ms. April Dawkins

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