Warren County High School’s Junior ROTC program motivates its cadets to be good students today and better citizens for tomorrow.
The program is geared toward developing personal confidence, self-reliance, leadership, responsibility and teamwork.
“I enjoy being in JROTC,” said Cadet Victoria Looper. “It has really helped me with my interview skills and it has helped me with public speaking. I’m much more confident now.”
She, as well as Cadet William Hutchison, are members of the program’s Pioneer Battalion Raider Team, a group of cadets that take fitness to the extreme. That select group of cadets endure physical conditioning and endurance training in order to compete against other Raider Teams in an obstacle course.
Hutchison said he joined Raiders because he wanted to be physically fit.
“I was overweight,” he said. “When the recruiting drive came to the high school, it was ‘raise your hand if you’d like to join Raiders. This is a physically fit, insane team.’ I raised my hand. All my friends said I couldn’t. My mom and my dad doubted it. I pushed through it, and I’m now in shape. It has been amazing.”
He added, “When I started Raiders, I weighed 155 pounds. None of it was muscle. I dropped down to 124. Right now I weigh 155 again, but it’s mostly muscle now.”
A 10-member team offered a demonstration of their skill Thursday for Rotary Club of McMinnville. The group constructed a one-rope bridge between two trees in front of the Blue Building. Members pulled themselves across the rope, from one tree to the next.
In competition, a one-rope bridge is used to cross ravines, creeks, river beds, etc. The rope is usually suspended over water.
Raiders completed the maneuver for Rotary members in 2 minutes and 17 seconds, which brought a round of applause from those present.
Raider coach 1st Sgt. Timothy Howard, is one of two JROTC instructors, oversaw the process.
“Everything is systematic,” he said. “Everybody has a job to do. There’s not a lot of chatter amongst the team. Everyone is listening for the commands.”
Howard says the distance crossed differs in each competition and the widest has been 90 feet.
“We had to have about 150 feet of rope to accomplish that task,” he said. “The further you go out, the more the rope will sag. Anytime when we cross that area in a competition site, people get wet. That’s something we accept as part of it.”
Howard was asked how many of his cadets go into service after graduation.
“The reality is that JROTC is not a recruitment tool of the military,” said Howard. “U.S. Army commanders have deemed the mission of the JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens. It’s not about recruiting. I would say three or four out of 20 cadets go into the military. Everyone else goes into the career that they choose.”
The Raider Team will be competing at the Alabama A&M Senior ROTC Drill Meet this Saturday, April 21.