Cleveland Kiwanis Club

Cleveland High JROTC cadets learning to be better citizens

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 9/21/19

Cleveland High School Junior ROTC cadets Ben Roberson and Hunter Cahoon had a major part in the program at Thursday's Cleveland Kiwanis Club luncheon.Cadet Lt. Col Roberson and Cadet 2nd Lt. Cahoon …

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Cleveland Kiwanis Club

Cleveland High JROTC cadets learning to be better citizens

Posted

Cleveland High School Junior ROTC cadets Ben Roberson and Hunter Cahoon had a major part in the program at Thursday's Cleveland Kiwanis Club luncheon.

Cadet Lt. Col Roberson and Cadet 2nd Lt. Cahoon accompanied Col. Gordon S. Campbell to the luncheon. Campbell is Senior Aerospace Science instructor of the Air Force ROTC Program at Cleveland High School.

This is the second year of the program, which has been strongly praised by Cleveland Director of Schools Dr. Russell Dyer, and a number of school administrators and faculty members.

Campbell and the two cadets were well received by the Kiwanis Club members, even by those who served in other branches of the military. 

One surprising statement by  Campbell was that the nation's Junior ROTC programs are not recruitment tools for the nation's military.

"It's supposed to be a cadet-led program, and we're graded on how the cadets run  the program," he added. "It's all a learning process."

Still, the Cleveland High ROTC program has a wealth of military experience with its two instructors.

Campbell, who is the senior instructor, has a long list of accomplishments, awards, medals and commendations. He is joined by CMSgt. Tim Hughes, who serves as an aerospace instructor and has a number of service-related awards.

Ironically, Campbell and Hughes served together at one point during their military careers, prior to coming to Cleveland High School.

Campbell said the two instructors are present to "help these kids become better citizens. We want them to develop character dedicated to serving their nation, and instill a value of citizenship in service to the U.S."

Col. Campbell also provided statistics concerning high school ROTC programs nationwide. He said there are 908 units, 120,000 cadets, 1,870 instructors and 200 schools on the waiting list for Junior ROTC program.

Cadets Roberson and Cahoon are impressive examples of cadets in the Cleveland High Program, called the "Blue Raider Corps."

The two cadets, both with significant military associations in their families, are leaning toward military enlistment, but that is  their future.

At Thursday's Kiwanis luncheon, they talked about leadership development in the Cleveland High AF Program, and some of the activities cadets are involved in, including the color guard and drill team.

Cadet Roberson said one of the projects they assisted last year was "Operation Christmas Child."

Cahoon said there are several other service projects where they participate. Among them are Terra Running events and holiday meals.

Campbell pointed out the cadets are measured by their community service.

The students said the program also takes at least two Action Trips (field trips) during the years. One of those trips last year was to the Space Museum in Huntsville, Ala.

Another big involvement for the cadet is the "Raiders." This is physical fitness competition, not only within the program, but regionally. The Cleveland High cadets have worked out with cadets at Bradley Central High School, and are getting ready for state competition.

Roberson said Raiders is a way the cadets develop comraderie.

"It's also a way to get kids involved, who are not that interested in athletics," he added.

Campbell pointed out the Cleveland High program and the cadets' uniforms are paid for by the Air Force, and that each military branch is required to support so many programs ... although Junior ROTC is not a recruiting tool.

Roberson said he will probably enlist after finishing his education, but he's not sure which branch he will eventually join. Cahoon said he also has family members connected with the military, and is considering the Air Force.

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