Michael Morgan (left) stands with Morgan Stallworth, a recipient of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) Junior ROTC Medal. She is joined by Anne Gauthier, Mary Morgan, and Sara Jane Overstreet. The award was presented on April 24.
Many of Henry County’s established Navy and Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units are counting successes from hard-fought battles in riflery, drilling, orienteering and academics.
Stockbridge High, Henry County High, Union Grove High, Luella High, and Eagle’s Landing High earned Distinguished Unit status for Navy JROTC Programs, and Dutchtown earned Distinguished Unit for Air Force JROTC Programs. Ola High is currently in its second year with a new Air Force JROTC Program.
“For Stockbridge [High], it was our 11th straight year to earn Distinguished Unit, which is a rare accomplishment,” said Capt. Ralph Malone, unit commander and naval instructor at Stockbridge High.
“Only the top 20 percent of units in the nation receive this award. So, it’s not an automatic accomplishment,” he continued. “Henry County is the only school system in the state with more than two JROTC units where all units earned Distinguished Unit status; so, we are extremely proud of this accomplishment.”
Malone said the distinction was earned through hard work and participation in competitions in drill, rifle, academics, and orienteering. The local high schools also hosted several competitions this year.
Union Grove High, Henry County High, and Luella High competed for national championships in drill, rifle, and academics, and finished at least in the Top 3 in every competition they entered.
Luella High, for example, qualified for national championships in orienteering, rifle and drill, according to Lt. Commander Gino Rice, the unit commander and naval instructor at Luella High.
Reigning Area-12 Champions in orienteering, the unit also took third place in the Orienteering National Championship, said Rice, the unit’s orienteering coach. Rice pointed out that the unit’s drill team placed second in the Area-12 Championships and finished first in three other drill meets around metro Atlanta. The unit won the unarmed exhibition at the National Drill Championship.
Luella High cadets placed third at the State Championship, and second in Navy National for riflery. It was the only high school unit to qualify for Navy Nationals with precision and sporter rifle teams.
Members of the Dutchtown High Air Force JROTC Program, too, received high marks in drill, winning first in unarmed drill, and second in overall armed drill, at the Southern Regional Invitational Drill Meet.
The unit posted several individual national military awards as well, according to Maj. Sarah Beavers, the unit commander at Dutchtown High.
Beavers, who also earned the school’s Teacher of the Year honor, noted that the unit’s participation in the Southeastern Regional Cadet Officer Leadership Camp resulted in one of her cadets being selected as vice wing commander and another as training group commander. The vice wing commander is the second-highest position, assisting the wing commander in running the camp, while the training-group commander is the third-highest position, in charge of training for all first-time attendees.
Dutchtown High cadet, Morgan Stallworth, was a recipient of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) JROTC Medal, awarded by members of the Andrew McBride Chapter NSDAR.
The award is being given to one student in each of the seven established JROTC units in Henry County, according to Amy Penn, a member of the local Andrew McBride Chapter NSDAR.
Penn said recipients must have demonstrated loyalty and patriotism, and earned a record of military and scholastic achievement during their participation in their respective ROTC Program. She said honorees must be in the top 25 percent of their classes in ROTC, as well as in academic subjects, and show qualities of dependability and good character, adherence to military discipline, leadership ability, and a fundamental and patriotic understanding of the importance of ROTC training.
The honors keep coming for JROTC units in Henry County, even as the school year closes out. This month, Union Grove High’s Navy JROTC unit will have two teams at the National Brain Brawl Championship in Los Angeles, Calif.
“It’s just an extremely remarkable accomplishment,” said Capt. Malone.