The Ray Fauria Gym was quiet as Commander James Flynn, United States Navy Retired, addressed the crowd of family, friends, and administrators in the stands for the 23rd Annual Military Inspection of the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets on Thursday, March 17 at Riverbank High School.
The participants in the NJROTC program receive an annual inspection of their uniforms, storeroom, and spaces. They also need to know the chain-of-command.
Master Chief Michael Foster has been instructing the NJROTC program at Riverbank High School for over 15 years.
“The cadets did very well this year,” said Foster. “They looked especially good in their uniforms this year. They all took exceptional pride in getting their uniforms ready for inspection.”
After Flynn greeted the guests the presentation of colors ensued and the guests stood. He also introduced guest speaker Captain Charles Roots, who was also a Chaplain.
Roots brought military challenge coins from his own personal inventory to distribute to cadets that exhibited outstanding uniforms. Recipients were Tim Brown, Commanding Officer; Justin Nance, Operations Officer; Marcus Brown, Leila Hosford, Yosemite Ruelas, Rafael Quintana, and Jennifer Sanchez.
According to Foster, the coins are an old custom in the military that goes back to World War I and watching Roots distribute them to the cadets was truly a highlight for him.
There are 55 cadets in the program that participated in the inspection and that gathered in formation for the Pass-in-Review.
Several cadets were also recognized for outstanding personal appearance.
“The unit looked outstanding this morning and is probably one of the best percentages of a unit that looked outstanding,” said Flynn.
With a 34-year military career, Roots gave a speech expressing appreciation to the people in the stands for taking the time to be there and show their support as well as sharing some military history.
“It is an interesting fact that less than one percent of the American population has ever served or is serving in the military,” stated Roots. “We are the one nation that gives other nations hope.
“I take a lot of hope and pride when I look at these young people. They could be out doing other things but they made a commitment to serve as a candidate in the ROTC unit.”
Roots also recited part of the speech given by President Abraham Lincoln at the cemetery in Gettysburg in November 1863.
He expressed that ‘all men are created equal’ is one of the most powerful statements that any politician or leader could make.
“We are that nation and we are in fact equal,” said Roots. “We are Americans.”
RHS has had the NJROTC program since 1993 and the program includes classroom study, physical fitness, respectful conduct, good personal appearance, and leadership training.
“This is my fourth year in the program,” stated Nance. “I have been to many inspections but this by far is one of the best ones I have ever seen. This class has taught us a lot about military customs so that is definitely something that we will take on into the military.”
Seniors Nance and Brown will both be joining the Marine Corps after they graduate high school, shipping out in July and August.
“I am proud and privileged to be able to be here with the Commander and to have spent time with this unit today at Riverbank High School NJROTC,” added Roots. “This is a fine group and they will stay with me for the rest of my life.”