NJROTC Cadets Assembled for Their Annual Military Inspection

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Eleazar Barrios

Albert Delagarza (11), a petty officer first class, stands at ease while waiting for their inspection to begin.

Eleazar Barrios, Reporter

NJROTC cadets stood at ease in their platoons: row upon row of uniformed students chatted quietly as they waited for their Annual Inspection to start on Jan. 27 in the girls’ gym. The armed drill team practiced its routine with its rifles, followed by the unarmed drill team, who practiced a series of stationary and stepping dance movements. The room fell into a short silence before an order from one of the master chiefs told students to use the restroom while they still had time. The cadets scrambled to the restrooms and then quickly fell back into place in formation.

Inspection began with the uniform inspection, which is the process of checking a cadet’s personal appearance and grooming. Inspectors scanned for any imperfections, pointing out anything that needed to be corrected. One cadet had a belt that was too long and the tip of it was looped all the way to his backside, but the tip of the belt needed to be in his front side. At the same time, inspectors verbally quizzed the cadets on anything from the phonetic alphabet (which uses “alpha, bravo, charlie” instead of “a, b, c”) to the chain of which could be their command platoon commander to the president of the United States. When the uniform inspections were over, the marching segment began. The purpose of the marching inspection is to show the inspectors that the cadets can work as a team and stay in sync. “I think they did pretty good,” Esai Jimenez, a cadet petty officer first class, said, “I made a couple of mistakes, but that’s on me.”

The armed drill team was up next. It is a marching unit that performs routines with its air rifles who spin and move from shoulder to shoulder depending on the order. “They did pretty good,” admitted Albert Delagarza, a cadet lieutenant commander, “they tried their best.”

Following their drills was the unarmed drill team, which performed choreographed march formations. One formation started off in a v-shaped formation to straight line. The cadets on the outside slowly moved forward until everyone was in line.

The presentation of colors was the final stage of the ceremonial military inspection. The presentation involved the flags of the United States and the Navy.

Later that day, after school, the cadet leadership gave Mike Hale a presentation where they reviewed administrative procedures, reports and records that included finances. “NJROTC is a federal program funded with federal tax dollars,” explained Hale, the Area 10 commander for Texas ROTC programs. Anywhere tax dollars are spent, the government needs to make sure that federal money is being used well. Hale determines if the federal requirements are being met. “The federal government requires me to come here every other year,” continued Hale.

NJROTC programs are designed to help students in many ways by instilling values, honor, courage and commitment, but also teaching them leadership skills. In the end, many become more disciplined citizens and handle situations under pressure better than most. “They need to learn discipline” said Mark Ortiz, a cadet petty officer first class. “If they don’t have discipline, they can’t go anywhere.”