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NJROTC continues to grow at M-PHS | SLIDESHOW
MARYSVILLE — “It’s been business as usual, but business has been good,” said retired Cmdr. Randy Brasfield of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Naval Junior ROTC program.
The M-PHS NJROTC Tomahawk Company recently conducted its pass in review and drill team performance as part of its annual evening parade, the completion of which has been a big weight off the shoulders of many of the cadets. Although Rear Adm. Troy Shoemaker was unable to attend the Nov. 22 event, retired Capt. Daniel Wenceslao returned to the M-PHS gymnasium that night to inspect the cadets and praise their conduct.
“It’s great to be in a school that just gets it, and invests its resources in a program like this,” said Wenceslao, who’s served as the NJROTC Area 13 manager since 1997. “It’s great that you parents are willing to give of yourselves by driving your kids to school early in the morning and picking them back up late at night for this. It’s great that kids like you, who do this program, have higher grades, fewer discipline problems and the same sense of purpose and camaraderie as those of us who have served in the military. I hear all the time from cadets that they feel like it’s a family, and that’s because senior cadets are mentoring junior cadets and everyone is accepted.”
Wenceslao presented Tomahawk Company Commanding Officer Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Terryll Daguison with a “challenge coin,” explaining to him that, “You have to carry that for the rest of your life, and if we ever meet again and I ask you to show me that coin and you don’t have it, you’ll owe me the beverage of my choice.” Wenceslao then reflected on the odds of him meeting Daguison again, and jokingly modified the conditions to tell the stands of spectators, “If you ever meet him again, you can ask him to show you that coin and have him owe you a beverage if he doesn’t have it.”
Tomahawk Company Executive Officer Cadet Lt. Ray Vital helped organize the event and admitted that its three months of preparations left him feeling stressed out.
“It’s all those little last-minute details, plus planning for what to do if something goes wrong during the event,” Vital said.
Vital’s father retired from the Navy after 21 years as a senior chief petty officer who’d served in the first Gulf War. Vital himself signed up for NJROTC to test it out during his freshman year four years ago, but within the first two months, he knew he wanted to go the distance with the program.
“As a freshman, I was actually considering becoming a chef,” Vital said. “This set my plans in gear to become a Naval officer. I’d like to become a nuclear engineer, but I’d prefer serving on a carrier to being in a submarine,” he laughed.
This year marked Cadet Seaman Nicholas Alonso’s first in the M-PHS NJROTC. Vital inspired him to check it out, and he’s found it rewarding for affording him a constructive outlet other than sports.
“If you decide you do want to go into the military as an adult, or even if you don’t, it gives you a sense of discipline, responsibility and organization,” said Alonso, who is still weighing his own options, but is considering a career in the intelligence field, “because I like seeing how people get their information.”
Fellow Cadet Seaman Nick Malloy, in his second year with the program, will either be joining the Navy to study avionics or the Marine Corps to serve in the infantry. His grandfather retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander after serving in Vietnam, and Malloy himself touted the value of NJROTC in building up leadership skills.
“Almost my entire family was military,” said Cadet Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Hagberg, who served as a platoon commander, recorder and guidon during the evening parade. “My mom’s side of the family was Navy and my dad’s side was Marines. I decided I needed some discipline in my life, since I was rebellious child, and it’s taught me a lot.”
“You get out of it what you put into it,” Alonso said.
“You’ll be a good person by the time you get out,” Vital said.
Brasfield reported that the M-PHS NJROTC has grown every year since its inception in 2007, and this year was no exception, since its 140 cadets were 10 more than last year’s group.
“I say it every year, but this group is particularly ready,” Brasfield said. “They prepared themselves well for their inspections and performed very smoothly. It’s the second year that we’ve had two different high schools in this company, but working together has made them smarter.”