February 21, 2013

AFJROTC bustling with activities in Hamilton

February 21, 2013 Joyce Marie Taylor Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — Lieutenant Colonel Darrell Davis, Cadet Major Edgar Perez, Cadet Captain Jamee Daniels and Master Sergeant William Snipes recently gave the Hamilton County School Board their annual briefing on activities within the high school’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFJROTC).

The United States AFJROTC was established by the 88th Congress of the United States through Public Law 88-647 on Oct. 13, 1964. The Hamilton County School District applied to the Secretary of the Air Force for authorization of an AFJROTC unit. In January, 1994, Unit FL-943  was activated at the high school. Since then Lieutenant Colonel Davis has been diligently working to help better the community through the education of its youth. 

“The program has been at the high school for about 19 years,” said Davis. “This is my 18th year, so I’ve kind of grown with the program, so to speak.”

Davis said he is really proud of all the cadets, especially the seniors who have stayed with the program for four years.

Cadet Major Edgar Perez told the board that he’s a senior at the high school and that he is going to graduate, but that he had already joined the Army. He explained that the members of the AFJROTC take courses in aerospace science and leadership under the tutelage of both Davis and Snipes, as well as many other activities. The cadets also have weekly uniform and drill days and Perez invited the board members to come out and watch.

Cadet Captain Jamee Daniels added that they compete in drill meets. Some of their long term goals are for all senior cadets to graduate with a diploma, create tutoring classes to help other cadets achieve their academic goals, and increase their community service projects, she said.

The cadets also participate in local parades and military events, visit military bases, prepare care packages, participate in paintball and sponsor potlucks and a military ball.

“As you can see, our kids stay pretty busy during the year,” said Davis. “They can’t say there ever is a dull moment.”

One of the challenges the AFJROTC program faces, Davis said, is funding, because of cuts to military budgets across the board.

“There is concern about that, but right now we’re holding our own,” he said.

Another challenge, Davis added, is that students are being pulled from the program due to poor academics.

“They’re always welcome back, once they get their grades up to speed,” he added.

For the past two years, he said, the program was required to have 75 or more cadets, but starting this year they are back to the 10 percent rule, which is 10 percent of the school population.

“If we have somewhere between 48-60 kids, we’re in good shape,” he said.

Davis said things are changing within the military, but he was dedicated to doing his best to keep the program moving in the right direction.

School Superintendent Thomas Moffses told Davis, “You have a great group of kids out there doing good things.”

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