• Ninth-grader Angelica Cruz, 14, a cadet with the Molina High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in Dallas, sits inside a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division during a tour of Fort Hood, Texas May 30.

    Ninth-grader Angelica Cruz, 14, a cadet with...

    Ninth-grader Angelica Cruz, 14, a cadet with the Molina High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in Dallas, sits inside a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division during a tour of Fort Hood...

  • Albert Ayala, 17, a junior with the Molina High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in Dallas, pets one of the 1st Cavalry Division's mules at the Horse Cavalry stables on Fort Hood, Texas May 30. Ayala along with 39 other Molina High students and their JROTC instructors visited Fort Hood to experience a little taste of Army life.

    Albert Ayala, 17, a junior with the Molina High...

    Albert Ayala, 17, a junior with the Molina High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in Dallas, pets one of the 1st Cavalry Division's mules at the Horse Cavalry stables on Fort Hood, Texas May 30. Ayala along with 39 other Molina...

FORT HOOD, Texas-High school students and instructors from Dallas were given a tour of the 1st Cavalry Division here May 30.

Forty Students from the Molina High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program along with Col. Joe Conley and Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Williams, both Molinia High School JROTC instructors, were shown around Fort Hood and the 1st Cav. Div. units by Colquitt, Ga. native Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Crankfield, the master gunner for the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

The JROTC cadets started off the day by attending a retirement ceremony at III Corps headquarters before heading over to the Horse Cavalry stables of the 1st Cavalry Division.

The group was given a tour of the barn and given a lesson in boot making and care of the horses and mules of the 1st Cav. Div. After the barn tour ended, they were taken to the Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial Dining Facility (DFAC) where they ate lunch with active duty soldiers.

The students and their instructors sat down and dined on steak, crab legs and various other entrAfAes. For some students this was their first time in a DFAC. They were impressed with the various selections and variety.

Jello Spratt, a ninth grader at Molina High School, said the DFAC was like eating out.

"It's like eating in a restaurant," said Spratt. "I would definitely recommend other high schools and students come out and enjoy the food and the tour we are on."

Continuing their tour, the students were taken to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div. where they were treated to a look inside a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Students from the group sat in the cockpit and others climbed aboard the outside to see the workings of the engines.

Freshman Angelica Cruz, 14, sat inside the Blackhawk and tried out the various instruments along with fellow freshman Brandi Hudson. Hudson expressed her future desire to fly a helicopter.

"I want to join the military," said Hudson. "I want to fly a helicopter just like this one day."

They ended the tour at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum where the students picked up post cards, glasses and other memorabilia to commemorate their time at Fort Hood.

Several of the cadets expressed their desire to join the military when they leave high school.

Andrew Perez hopes to enlist in the Army right after high school. He would like to be part of an infantry regiment.

"On this trip I have learned there are other jobs besides just fighting and war," said Perez, "but I still want to join the infantry."

Conley who commands the JROTC organization at Molina High School said that he hopes by bringing the kids here they learn to respect what the armed services does for the country.

"We are not recruiters, but we do want to teach the students the Army values," said Conley. "We want them to become better citizens."

This is Conley's first trip with the Molina High School JROTC program and hopes it isn't his last. The school's aim is to bring the JROTC cadets out once a year to expose them to the military and their continuing efforts on the Global War on Terrorism said Conley.

Crankfield, who hosted the tour, expressed his appreciation for Conley and the JROTC program, and said he hopes the schools will continue to come out and bring the cadets.

"I was honored to be given this task and wish we could do more," said Crankfield. "It gives kids something positive to look forward to after high school."

Crankfield went on to say that he and his unit will be glad to host other JROTC programs.

"I can't thank them enough for allowing me to do this," said Crankfield. "It has been an inspiration watching these kids and listening to their questions."

Page last updated Mon June 2nd, 2008 at 15:31