Navy JROTC cadets undergo judging for basic drill during the Area 12 Sanctioned Drill Meet Saturday.
STOCKBRIDGE The wind howled over Keary Vannavong’s voice commands, which could be heard clearly only between gusts.
The orders of other cadets and the military officers judging them also echoed across the campus as 16 Navy JROTC units converged to participate in the Area 12 Sanctioned Drill Meet at Stockbridge High School.
“I feel like we’re progressing,” said Vannavong, a junior at Eagle’s Landing High School.
Vannavong is a petty officer third class in the school’s Navy JROTC unit. As a third-year cadet, he was the most experienced among his armed exhibition drill team Saturday.
He said he received instructions on the armed drill about a week before his team was to perform the drill. It usually takes about a month to learn. However, his team’s efforts Saturday earned Vannavong an “attaboy” slap on the shoulder by the unit’s commander, Chief James Moore.
Navy JROTC units from as far away as Buford and Augusta participated. The meet was the 10th hosted by Stockbridge High.
Hundreds of cadets tested their intellectual and physical prowess in events like the armed and unarmed drill exhibition. They measured themselves against their peers from across the state in academics and physical fitness.
Stockbridge High Navy JROTC Capt. Ralph Malone said the top three teams from the meet go on to compete in the Regional Drill Meet this March in Jacksonville, Fla.
The competition’s top five teams were, in order: Luella High of Locust Grove, Cross Creek High of Augusta, Lassiter High of Marietta, Henry County High of McDonough, and Baldwin High of Milledgeville.
“For our unit, the hard part was compiling enough judges (about 25) from the local military to give up their Saturdays to judge our drill events,” said Malone.
Saturday’s drill events included armed and unarmed basic and exhibition drill, color guard and the personnel inspection.
“They must be consistent for the entire day for all 16 schools,” he said. “The personnel inspection is probably the hardest event for our competitors to prepare for in that all of their 40 cadets must undergo an inspection of their uniform and be able to answer two questions of general knowledge about the Navy, their chain of command and their orders to the sentry.”
Each school program has a team of 15 top-performing students who take the academic test.
“It is an extremely hard test that includes questions about maritime history, physical fitness, health, national security, physics and current events,” Malone said. “To do well on this test, cadets must put in many hours of study.”
Parents were on hand to cheer on their cadets during the more physical activities.
“The event which is probably the most fun to watch would be our running events, particularly the 16-by-100 relay,” he said. “All 16 schools compete jointly, with each school having eight males and eight females run the relay. The non-competing cadets from each school are in the stands and they always go wild, cheering on their runners.”