Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

The human side of JROTC


I want to talk about the AFJROTC unit at McNary High School.

AFJROTC stands for Air Force Junior Officer Training Corps. Currently our JROTC unit is getting ready for the new year and this is the time to become part of our outstanding program. I am writing to tell you why you should join JROTC, my experiences with joining, informing you about the program, and some common misconceptions about the class.

When I was in 8th grade, deciding what my classes would be, I knew right away that I wanted to be in the JROTC program. At the time I did not know much about it but I saw the color guard and drill team at the assemblies at Claggett Creek Middle School and there was something about tossing a rifle up in the air and managing to catch it which appealed to me and seemed like fun.

I was having a hard time deciding whether or not I wanted to join though because I thought it might be too hard for me, or too strict. To be honest I was scared of what it might be like. During summer I went to Basic Cadet Training (BCT), which is a quick introduction hosted by the AFJROTC unit. I thought that it would be a daunting task but it wasn’t. It was actually a lot of fun and the connections I made with others in the program made transitioning from middle to high school much easier. Along with that, participating in BCT gave me a ribbon to put on my uniform. As the year progressed I began to get closer to the people within my JROTC unit. I don’t know if it was intended, but I began to see JROTC less as a class and more like a family. As my second year of high school came on I decided I would try to join one of our five teams, Unarmed/Armed Drill, Color Guard, Physical Training, and Precision Air Rifle. Drill would definitely seem like a challenge for me, but I was up for it. While I was practicing Drill Major Robert Gracia saw me and recommended I do Color Guard. I was hesitant at first, but then I finally decided to join which was a great decision. Because of this I had the privilege to march in the Color Guard for the 2018 Iris Parade.

Now that I have shared my experience with you I hope this has inspired you to join JROTC. If not, let me clear up a few misconceptions that you might still have. First, and one of the most common misconceptions, is that JROTC recruits for the military, this is not true in any way. JROTC will not pressure or hold you to any obligation of any military service no matter how long you stay with us. The second misconception is harsh treatment, in all of my time within the corps I have never been put down by an instructor or fellow cadet. I have never been screamed at or treated unfairly, the cadets in JROTC are some of the nicest people I have ever met. A third JROTC stereotype is that the JROTC program is boring. This is not true, JROTC is fun and educational, and challenges you to be your best. Give it a try for a year, you’ll be glad you did.

In conclusion, we ask any parents or guardians to talk to their kids about joining JROTC at McNary High School. Our unit is currently in need of cadets to keep our corps running strong so we can benefit both McNary High Schools students and our community. Because of this please consider puting JROTC in heavy consideration, not only does it teach you and prepare you for the future but it also looks great when applying for a job.

If you have any questions you can contact Major Garcia through McNary High school or Email him at [email protected] Also be sure to check out our Facebook page at MAF Cadet Page. I look forward to seeing you.

(Ted Spinks is a junior at McNary High School.)