Marysville NJROTC excels in annual evening parade

The Marysville Tomahawk Company Naval Junior ROTC Unarmed Drill Team struts its stuff during their annual evening parade on Nov. 14. - Kirk Boxleitner
The Marysville Tomahawk Company Naval Junior ROTC Unarmed Drill Team struts its stuff during their annual evening parade on Nov. 14.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The cadets of Marysville Tomahawk Company Naval Junior ROTC distinguished themselves yet again during their annual evening parade in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School gymnasium on Thursday, Nov. 14.

"I can't tell you how proud I am to be here," said U.S. Navy Capt. James Duke, who's served most recently as special assistant for CVN Operations, Naval Reactors. "You're looking at the future of America's finest, right here."

After Duke reviewed the troops with Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Hagberg, the commanding officer of Tomahawk Company, he reminded those in attendance that the Founding Fathers so recognized the importance of maintaining a national Navy that they wrote it into the Constitution.

"Half of our fleet is at sea at any given time, whether keeping our lines of transit open, ensuring our security abroad or supporting humanitarian efforts such as those in the Philippines," Duke said. "If you cadets feel a calling to the service, whether by enlisting or getting your commissions, know that there will always be a place for you in the world's greatest Navy."

Retired Navy Cmdr. Randy Brasfield, who serves as the senior naval science instructor for the Marysville NJROTC, called out 29 of the 153 cadets for receiving perfect scores on their inspections.

"That's 44 percent of the unit that earned 10 out of 10 on their personal inspections," said retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Kathy Wilde, the naval science instructor for the Marysville NJROTC. "The average score for the unit was 8.6."

Navy Capt. Daniel Wenceslao, area manager of NJROTC Area 13, presented Hagberg with a "challenge coin" in honor of her unit's performance, but noted that such a coin obligates her to carry it on her person at all times, in case they ever meet again, and he joked with the audience that, if they ask to see her coin and she's not carrying it, she owes them a drink.

"I can't think of a better job than one in which everyone wants to please me," Wenceslao laughed, referring to the cadet inspections earlier in the day. "It's a real joy when you have a unit that's this squared away, especially when they're being recognized by this many people in the audience."

Although Wilde estimated that this year's number of cadets is about the same as last year's, what she's noticed is the number of students who have stayed in the program as they've transitioned from their freshman to sophomore years.

"That number historically declines, but we've seen the exact opposite this year," Wilde said. "We're crediting the change to the cadets' focus on community service, and their excitement for participating in the drill teams."

According to Wilde, the cadets began practicing for this evening parade at the start of the school year, and she asserted that most of the cadets have spent an extra three hours each week on learning their memory work and shining their shoes.

"This group of cadets is amazing," Wilde said, citing the 1,200-plus hours of community service the cadets have completed this year, as well as the 25 color guards they've performed, six of them on Veterans Day alone. "They've demonstrated the unique ability to prioritize and balance all of the requirements that this phase of academia has thrown at them. Not only are they succeeding in the NJROTC program, but they're out there excelling as football players, swimmers and school council members, just to give a few examples. Cmdr. Brasfield and I could not be more proud of the entire unit than we are. The sky is the limit for these future leaders."

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