EVANS, Ga. -- When a local Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program reached out for assistance with one of its most significant events, Fort Gordon Soldiers responded with fervor.
More than two dozen Soldiers volunteered their time and expertise for the JROTC Area 4 Regional Drill Meet on March 7 at Evans High School.
Cadets from six area high schools competed in the event, which was held to determine who moves on to the Georgia State Drill Championships in Griffin, Georgia, at the end of the month.
Cadets competed in a series of events that included armed and unarmed competitions at the squad and platoon levels.
Sgt. Dalton Canipe, 116th Military Intelligence Brigade, was one of 25 Soldiers who was happy to spend part of his weekend scoring and mentoring JROTC cadets. As a former cadet in high school and college, Canipe saw it as a chance see what it was like "on the other side."
"I understand what the cadets are going through, so when I was presented with the opportunity, I jumped on it," he said.
Some of what he saw and learned surprised him.
"As a cadet, I didn't fully understand what they were grading me on; I just knew I lost six points," Canipe said. "Now I'm the one grading, and I've been in the military for a minute, so I understand why they marked me off on something."
Staff Sgt. John Granado, 116th MI Bde., found the experience to be eye-opening. Watching the cadets, Granado said it was a chance for Soldiers to self-evaluate and see where they could improve themselves. This was especially true during the "Knock Out" competition, in which Soldiers gave commands and cadets were eliminated when there was a deficiency in the cadet's movement.
"I know for myself, I was like, 'I need to practice more,' because there are some things I don't remember," Granado said.
Maj. Mike Daversa, Evans HS JROTC instructor and area coordinator for the CSRA, felt it was important to have Fort Gordon Soldiers as graders and was thankful so many showed up.
"They're experienced and professional enough to exercise good judgement and make sure everybody gets a fair judge," Daversa said. "Kids look up to them and respect their judgements."
"Many of them aspire to be these Soldiers, so I think that it's awesome for them to see the Soldiers giving back to the community," added Sgt. Maj. Linda Gary, Lakeside High School JROTC instructor.