MARYSVILLE – As Veterans Day nears, some former military said this week they are proud of how the Navy Junior ROTC program at Marysville-Pilchuck High School honors them.
At the program’s annual military inspection Tuesday, cadet Hunter Richardson-Wright asked the crowd of 300 to not just remember veterans on Nov. 11, but to think of them every day and “thank them for their service.” All veterans in the audience were asked to stand and be acknowledged. And the parade was dedicated to Stanley Bibby, who served in the Coast Guard from 1957-1979.
Bob Crosby, a veteran of 24 years with the Navy, was there to watch his son, third-year Cadet Master Chief Ian Crosby. “They do anything and everything they can for Veterans Day by showing the flag,” he said Wednesday.
Crosby said color guards at M-P are asked to appear at many assemblies and parades. “The program takes kids not sure of their purpose and gives them direction. Some have become class leaders even outside the program,” he said. Crosby added NJROTC is the best-kept secret to getting a college scholarship, and it makes it easier to get into a military academy. But he said it’s a misconception that kids in NJROTC go into the military. He said three/fourths of last year’s graduates went to college instead.
Likewise, Regina Vann was there with her husband Ricardo to watch their son Elijah, a first-year cadet.
Regina said she did not grow up in the military and has gained a new perspective about Veterans Day after being a military wife for 16 years.
“I didn’t know what the military was about,” she said of the sacrifices that are made. “Now I know what the trials and tribulations of military life are all about. Deployments, packing up, moving and selling homes… But I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
As a result, Elijah has attended a lot of schools. She likes how NJROTC has helped him fit it just three months after they moved here. “It’s given him a lot of confidence – the camaraderie of his classmates,” she said. Regina said Ricardo followed in his father’s footsteps, and now Elijah plans to follow them, too, and be a Navy pilot.
As for the military inspection itself, Cmdr. Mark Schuchmann, who has been in the Navy since 1996, gave the parade an “Outstanding” grade – “the highest he could give it,” NJROTC Chief Kathleen Wilde said. In his remarks, Schuchmann said the cadets will learn life skills of working together and supporting each other. But there will be mistakes. “The road to success is full of failures,” he said. “That’s how you learn. Get up, dust yourself off and move on.” That morning, Schuchmann inspected all 137 cadets. He checked their grooming and uniforms and asked them two military questions. At the program that night, 35 were honored for perfect scores. Wilde said 15 percent perfect scores is a good showing, so their 25 percent rate was exceptional.
Six cadets also showed Schuchmann a slide show about what the battalion does, and he also inspected their systems. Those ratings will be announced later. Its been a “Distinguished Unit with Honors” the past two years.
The parade itself featured the national anthem sung by five cadets, a pass in review, and armed and unarmed drill team performances.
Cadets DeAndre Adriano and Sedryck Reyes, both only in their second year, performed their own unarmed drill. “They’ve been practicing it since May,” Wilde said.
Wilde said other standouts were Cadet Cmdr. Angel Reyes, Cadet Lt. Kaitlyn Norris, Richardson-Wright and Victoria Wilde, who both organized the entire event. Anyone watching would notice the number of young women in the battalion. Wilde said when she got here seven years ago, there were about 20. Now there are 52.
“Girls see a woman doing the job and know it’s possible for them,” Wilde said. Wilde said 12 of her 24 officers are girls. Students recommend each other for officer positions, and they go through an application process.
Wilde said the opportunities for women in the Navy are phenomenal compared to what they used to be. She was in the Navy for 22 years starting in 1988 and never served on a ship because it wasn’t allowed.
Asked how the battalion became so in-sync since school just started Sept. 6, Wilde said, “Practice, practice, practice.”
They started from scratch, with cadets learning how to wear their uniforms, along with appropriate behavior. As soon as they enter the classroom they punch in and go to work.
“We are teaching them how to be employed – whether it’s college, military or a job. They are ready to go. Their skills will take them to the head of the line,” Wilde said.