• Col. Kelly J. Lawler, left, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, hands the Ansbach High School JROTC colors to Cadet Lt. Col. Joshua Pleake, officially transferring command to Pleake during the JROTC battalion's change of command May 16. Pleake takes over for Cadet Lt. Col. Xavier Rodriguez, third from left, who graduates from high school this year.

    Passing the colors

    Col. Kelly J. Lawler, left, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, hands the Ansbach High School JROTC colors to Cadet Lt. Col. Joshua Pleake, officially transferring command to Pleake during the JROTC battalion's change of command May 16. Pleake...

  • The Ansbach High School JROTC drill team marches in step during their battalion's change of command May 16.

    Drill team

    The Ansbach High School JROTC drill team marches in step during their battalion's change of command May 16.

ANSBACH, Germany (May 23, 2013) -- At the Ansbach Middle/High School stadium May 16, students gathered to watch the change of command of the high school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps battalion. Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Rahim Beatty passed responsibility to Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Mikaela Portugal. Cadet Lt. Col. Xavier Rodriguez passed command to Cadet Lt. Col. Joshua Pleake.

The Ansbach High School JROTC program is one of the more robust JROTC programs in Europe. Fifty-seven percent of the high school is enrolled in the program, which is a high participation for a Department of Defense Europe school and considerably higher than the 12 percent national average. The cadet formal inspection results for 2012 were 99.3 percent, the highest in Europe.

Col. Kelly J. Lawler, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach commander, oversaw the change of command and commended the battalion for their achievements.

"You take over a fine-tuned unit that continuously meets high standards," said Lawler. "I have the greatest confidence in both of you as the new command team. Good luck. Take care of your Soldiers, and they will take care of you."

"We pride ourselves in letting our cadets be in charge and setting the example," said Rodriguez in his speech to the crowd. "Leadership is about responsibility and you have proven to me and the school that you are capable of doing the right thing. I charge you now to take it one step further next year and take it outside of JROTC. Be an influence in the school and don't only do the right thing but do it when no one is looking."

Among the battalion's accomplishments were a physical training pancake breakfast attended by hundreds of people; the return of their unit colors from Afghanistan by the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, their sponsoring unit; and the completion of a ropes course and an obstacle course.

Pleake, who has been with the JROTC for four years, wants to continue the battalion's accomplishments and expand upon them during his tenure as commander.

"I want to maintain everything we've been doing, and hopefully do more events like the ropes course and obstacle course, add more military training," he said.

Pleake has been with the battalion since joining when he became a high school student. His sister was the battalion commander two years ago, and being with the battalion was something natural to him.

"You start out at the bottom and you work your way to the top, and everyone levels out at some point," said Pleake. "I've been in the military my whole life, and I've always worked the hardest at JROTC because I felt at home with it. It's always something I've wanted to do. It's my goal to go into the military eventually."

Included in the pageantry of the ceremony were a drill team demonstration and a 1940s dance number to the tune of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" in honor of retired Sgt. 1st Class Paul Parent, a World War II veteran in attendance at the ceremony.

Page last updated Thu May 23rd, 2013 at 00:00