CASERMA EDERLE, Italy -- Vicenza High School's 10th Cougar Battalion, Army Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps, earned a special honor March 19.

During the annual JROTC program for accreditation March 19, the unit was named an Honor Unit with Distinction.

"We're pretty thrilled," said Charles Turner, JROTC Army instructor and retired command sergeant major. "This is about as close to total victory as you could get among the top three percent of the programs in Army JROTC."

On the morning of the inspection, cadets prepared and practiced, and made last-minute uniform corrections. The chaos turned to absolute silence as word of the approaching inspection team spread.
Inspectors addressed Cougar Battalion cadets by explaining what was going to happen and expectations for success. The cadet chain of command issued orders, and the inspection was underway.

Areas inspected included the following: a battalion staff continuous improvement briefing, service learning briefing, cadet staff commodity area inspection and interview, cadet portfolios and knowledge interview, review of unit report, platoon drill, Color Guard performance, and instructor portfolios and interview. Second Brigade inspectors spent more than four hours asking questions, reviewing files, checking cadets and comparing operations to regulations.

The cadet's preparation and hard work paid off when Jesse Woods, senior JROTC Army instructor and retired Chief Warrant Officer 4, and Turner briefed the results with the cadets.

Inspectors said they were very impressed with the cadets' knowledge and appearance, and that the briefing cadets presented to the inspectors were exactly what they were looking for. Cadets exceed both at the inspection and the Color Guard performance, receiving 29.5 out of 30 points. The instructors received maximum points for their portfolios.

At the end of the inspection, the battalion received 95 percent, which qualifies the unit as an Honor Unit with Distinction, the highest rating Army JROTC unit can receive.

Because of the honor, cadets will wear the Gold Star on their uniform, which designates the honor unit. (VHS JROTC)