Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of JROTC. I can’t say enough about this program and the impact it’s having on our youth, three of which are mine.
Yes, I’ve had another one “enlist” this year. So now, in the afternoons when they’re not staying after school to practice, I hear them outside on the road with two other cadets from the neighborhood. Whoever holds the highest rank is shouting out commands and the others follow them. They are very serious, too. If one messes up he or she is called out on it. And they are constantly brainstorming new ideas.
See, this program isn’t just a class in school. It’s a life experience. There is nothing in school anymore that prepares our youth for “real” life. JROTC does. It teaches life skills that lots of kids will never be taught anywhere else. Col. Houser and Sgt. Gray are there for these kids, not only to teach them but to support them in any way they can.
Heck, they even make sure they are fed and stay hydrated! It kinda makes me jealous when I hear about how good a cook Sgt. Gray is, or how good Col. Houser’s wife’s brownies are!
This past Saturday they participated in a Drill Meet at St. James High School in Murrells Inlet. A drill meet is where they go to compete against other schools in areas where their knowledge of commands, discipline and following orders is tested. They are given commands as a group, or platoon I think, and follow these commands as they are called. None of this is choreographed but the precision is amazing! They “march, about face, left flank, etc.” so smoothly it’s a joy to watch. And don’t even get me started on the Fancy Arms competition! These guys spin and toss these rifles around like they weigh about 2 ounces, but are actually quite heavy.
Dillon High School JROTC Battalion brought home three second places and also second place overall. The schools they were competing against were much bigger schools with A LOT more cadets attending. They also had a lot more sup- port in the stands. I think I was the only one attending from Dillon other than the bus driver.
There is always a spirit of respect and comradery at these events. There are no “sore losers.” Just cadets who see where they need to improve.
There will be more drill meets this year and also, I think, a Raiders Meet where they showcase their physical strength and abilities. It would really be awesome if Dillon could be supported by hometown fans. No, they won’t be going to “Re- gional” or “State” but they will be going to “life in the real world.” These kids are the future, whether they pursue a career in the military or not, the training they’re receiving now will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
1050 Erica Street
Dillon, SC 29536