Public educated on AHS JROTC program

JROTC cadet Tyeshia Haughton loads an air rifle before displaying her marksmanship skills to visitors of the Aberdeen High School Air Force JROTC last Tuesday. (RAY VAN DUSEN)

ABERDEEN – In preparations of last Saturday’s regional competition, cadets from Aberdeen High School’s Air Force JROTC performed last week to an audience of retirees and city officials.

In addition to witnessing cadets’ drill and marksmanship skills, the special guests were schooled on the general scope of the school’s program.

“I consider this program a mission field and these 75 cadets the future leaders of not only our county, but our country. We’re trying to build on citizens of character,” said instructor Lt. Col. Jeffrey ‘Cog’ Coggin.

The JROTC program stresses integrity, service before self and general excellence for core values.

In its leadership laboratory, cadets are running meetings in a professional manner and assigning duties amongst the group. The third- and fourth-year cadets are also mentoring first-year cadets.

“Our goal is to help make their lives better. Every day we ask them to be like Michael Jackson and take a look at the man, or woman, in the mirror and ask how they can make the change to become better,” Coggin said.

In addition mentoring within itself, the JROTC program is looking for tutors, speakers and anyone wishing to help the cadets move forward.

“Some of these students want to serve in the military, but since it’s more selective, the ASVAB test may be the only thing stopping them so we need the public’s help so they can excel,” Coggin said.

To expand the scope of the program, Coggin said the students may eventually be taking survival classes and anyone with any survival training is welcome to bring any knowledge to the table.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Jim McCarty, AHS’ JROTC program hasn’t had a drill team in five years and McCarty and Coggin are working on building it back up into a strong component.

“This program is good for discipline and it’s a good fit for these students. After 33 years in the military, I know it takes organization to contribute to success,” said Mayor Cecil Belle