Q. “News & Notes” had a photograph on June 15 of three cadets. All three, and especially the one on the left, had a huge number of ribbons and medals that would make a three-star general cry. What did a cadet do to earn so many?
A. There are more than 1,730 Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs offered nationwide that include 314,000 cadets, 4,000 instructors and many others who support the program.
JROTC is oriented toward youth development “and emphasizes character education, student achievement, community service, diversity, and giving back to others,” according to the organization’s website, www.usarmyjrotc.com.
Three local cadets were honored at a recent meeting of the Brunswick Town chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Awards presented to Alison Childress, Samantha Sparks and Arashay Eaton are representative of medal winners among JROTC cadets.
JROTC is a four-year program. All high schools in New Hanover and Brunswick County have JROTC programs.
Thomas G. Blue, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, is a senior Army instructor at South Brunswick High School.
Blue said that a student can enroll in JROTC for one, two, three or four years. It’s an elective class.
“In the case of Samantha Sparks, she has been in the JROTC program at South Brunswick for four years. Her awards and decorations have been awarded for actions covering four complete years,” Blue said.
“The awards and decorations are like any other program. In the case of JROTC, the more the participation, the more likely one is to be awarded recognition,” he said.
JROTC award categories include academic awards, athletic awards, military awards, and miscellaneous awards.
Blue said that in the academic awards category, a cadet can receive 10 different awards.
Under athletic awards, there are five different awards. There are 15 different types of military awards, and seven ribbons under miscellaneous awards.
Blue said ribbons can be awarded in the following categories:
Academic excellence, academic achievement, perfect attendance, leadership development, varsity sports, junior varsity sports, physical fitness, personal appearance (uniform), proficiency, participation on a team (drill, rifle, raider, academic), color guard, honor guard, school support, community support, service learning and several others.
The there are also 22 awards from community, civic, and military organizations like the DAR.
“Competition for these awards is very stiff with established criteria,” Blue said.
For example, in order to receive the DAR Award, Blue said the cadet must be a member of his or her graduating class, be in the top 25 percent among cadets in JRTOC and academic subjects and “have demonstrated qualities of dependability and good character”
Cadets must also practice adherence to military discipline, demonstrate leadership ability, and have “a fundamental and patriotic understanding of the importance of JROTC,” Blue said.
Sparks “has been extremely active in JROTC program over the course of her four years, earning her awards, decorations, and promotions. She has excelled in academic, athletic events, and as a member of our Drill Team. As a result of her overall excellence, she was selected to receive the Daughters of the American Revolution Award this year,” Blue said.
He said cadets can also be awarded ribbons and medals for achievement in other areas such as orienteering, repelling, participation in the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge held during the summer at Fort Jackson, and can earn individual awards for performance in competitions from the drill, raider, rifle, or academic teams.
“The more a cadet participates, the more awards and decorations they are eligible for,” Blue said.
Awards and decorations “are earned and not given,” Blue said.
“We are fortunate that we have many outstanding cadets like Samantha in the JROTC program. The awards and decorations serve as a sign of recognition for their dedication, performance, and commitment to excellence and we consider it a very valuable part of the JROTC program,” he said.
Cadets “are very proud of their awards and wear them with pride. There is also a degree of competition among some cadets to see who can earn the most awards,” Blue said.
Date posted: June 23, 2014
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