By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsOctober 26, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Three U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College TAC officers took time out of their extremely busy schedules Oct. 23-24 to provide some training, advising and counseling to Carroll High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets in Ozark.
CW3s Enrico Leak, Lee Deal and Docaser Bennett spent several hours each day with the cadets sharing their backgrounds and experiences in the Army, answering questions about military service, and providing direction and training in drill, marching, and customs and courtesies, according to CW4 Nathan Barley, lead action officer for the volunteer effort.
And the volunteers' efforts were greatly appreciated and much needed, said retired Col. Milton Shipman, director of JROTC at the school.
"It is a blessing," he said. "We started out this year without an Army instructor. The AI is typically in charge of drill and ceremony, and, right now, we're trying to teach six classes, prepare lesson plans, as well as making sure each cadet is trained -- it's very difficult for one person."
That difficulty made it to the ears of Barley, who coordinated the volunteer effort between the school and the WOCC, Shipman said.
"The WOCC instructors are out here to help us become a better unit and, as you can see, they have become a much better unit," Shipman said. "They're teaching them cohesiveness, teaching them how drill and ceremony is really conducted -- it's better than what I could do because each individual cadet now is getting individual training."
That individual training should really pay off as the JROTC cadets face a busy season of parades and competitions that will kick off around Veterans Day, the director added.
"We can't put a price tag on this -- this is just invaluable," he said. "And, as you can see, our (cadets) have just loved it -- they have smiles on their faces, they're receptive to the training. These ladies and gentlemen are outstanding instructors -- this is done out of love for the community and the WOCC community has been just outstanding."
And the volunteers were happy to help out, said Deal.
"Our classes are back to back to back, so our schedules are always booked," he said. "We don't get time to really come out into the communities like we want to, so this is one of those times where we can actually come out into the community and hopefully provide some inspiration to future Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors or Marines.
"It's awesome," he added. "Hopefully, we can lay a foundation in their minds of what they can do next to prepare for them for what some of them may take on in joining the military. I tell them that everything is not going to be easy for them -- there will be down times.
"But for me, coming from a little small town, it was a real good thing because I got so many different experiences in life," Deal added. "It helped me along, kind of opened my mind to different things -- not just the United States of America, but the whole world."
But these cadets aren't military members just yet, and there is a stark contrast between working with high school students and the warrant officer cadets, Leak said.
"Totally different," he said. "Warrant officer candidates have experience, some type of military experience in the Army system or in a military system, (while the JROTC cadets) haven't gone through the process of becoming a Soldier. But they do have some skills we can work with -- some good foundational skills that will put them ahead of someone who has never dealt with any type of military experience."
While Leak didn't have a pitch prepared to entice the cadets to join the military, he did provide some advice and life lessons he's learned along his journey of becoming a leader and teacher of Soldiers.
"The sky is the limit," he said. "Whatever your goal is, you can set it there. There's no limit to how far you can set your goals. If you want be a Soldier, you can do that. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, a police officer or a firefighter, you can do that.
"This (being a Soldier) is just one career path that was chosen by myself and my fellow Soldiers," he said. "This is what we chose and this is the goal that we set for ourselves. If you're focused and disciplined enough, you can accomplish those goals just like we did. Life is going to throw a lot of problems at you, a lot of issues, but if you're focused and disciplined, you can accomplish your goals."