Standing tall: Cadets strive to achieve personal, professional excellence

| April 9, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Staff Sgt. Nancy Deweese
U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — About 800 Junior ROTC students from 26 Hawaii high schools stood tall in their Class B uniforms at Palm Circle, here, during the 28th Annual Governor’s JROTC Review and Awards Ceremony, April 1.  

Cadet / Col. Joe Blair, commander of troops for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps review ceremony, leads Brig. Gen. John Ma, the deputy commander of the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army-Pacific, and Hawaii Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona in an inspection of the troops on Palm Circle at Fort Shafter, April 1. The review was held to honor the top JROTC cadets from Hawaii high schools.

Hosted by U.S. Army-Pacific, the ceremony included Hawaii Lt. Gov. James  “Duke” Aiona and Brig. Gen. John Ma, deputy commander, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army-Pacific, as reviewing officials.

“You have distinguished yourselves among your peers,” Ma said. “Your being here shows you have good decision-making skills.”

The review was held to recognize outstanding cadets from each school represented. The schools had selected the cadets based on their performance as cadets in their individual battalions.  

Being honored as an outstanding cadet is important because it shows others the potential a student has, said Cadet Joe Blair, a junior at Kapaa High School in Kapaa, Kauai, and commander of troops for the ceremony.

“Being selected to be the commander of troops is good because it gives others a chance to see you in a higher leadership position,” said Blair. “They are able to see your discipline and leadership skills.”

The recognized cadets had demonstrated to their peers and teachers that they possessed the skills of self-discipline, leadership and problem-solving skills above their JROTC peers.

“To be a good leader, you have to first know how to follow,” said Cadet / Lt. Col. Laura Okita, a JROTC award recipient from Baldwin High School in Maui. “You have to be motivated, look at your leaders who lead well and follow the example of those who are good leaders.”

Her fellow award recipient from Waipalo High School, Cadet / Maj. Peter Kenneth Calo, agreed, adding that to be a good cadet requires a student to take himself, academics and his fellow cadets seriously.

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona and Brig. Gen. John Ma stand with Junior ROTC award recipient Cadet / Lt. Col. Laura Okita of Baldwin High School, Maui. Okita received the award for her outstanding performance as a cadet at Baldwin High School. She hopes to use the skills she learned at JROTC to attend college and to join the Air National Guard.

“A good cadet takes full responsibility for what he or she does,” he said.  

Sgt. Maj. Robert Silva, the Hawaii Multiple School Unit sergeant major, has seen student benefits firsthand as a former instructor of JROTC cadets.

“I think it’s the most important class in high school because it teaches discipline, life skills and how to analyze problems and solve them,” Silva said.

Cadets who do well in JROTC are often eligible for ROTC scholarships at universities throughout the United States, said Silva. Many others use their experience to prepare them for rigorous life at U.S. military academies.

“Whether you decide to join the military or serve in a civilian sector, you will be placed in a variety of leadership positions,” Ma said. “The skills you learned in JROTC will help you no matter where you go in life.” 

In his speech to the cadets who were honored, Aiona spoke of the importance of JROTC programs in Hawaii. He said JROTC programs are vital because they emphasize the values of citizenship, service to country and personal responsibility to the students.

Aiona congratulated the awardees, telling them they have shown everyone that they can make the world a better place.

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