Fort Leonard Wood service members, MSU ROTC cadets assist at event
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Waynesville High School hosted their eighth Waynesville Junior ROTC Drill Competition on Jan. 22, offering high school students from across the region the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise at skills such as discipline and military bearing.
Taking the Overall Drill Meet Champion title this year was Leavenworth High School, from Leavenworth, Kansas, who were also named Overall Unarmed Division winners. The Overall Armed Division winner was Missouri Military Academy, from Mexico, Missouri, and Abigail Lemmond, a WHS junior, placed second out of more than 300 cadets in the Final Individual Drill Down competition. This was the first year any Waynesville student competed in their own event.
“We competed this year, as due to COVID, there are fewer options for us to compete in,” said Retired Col. Charles Williams, senior Army instructor for Waynesville’s JROTC program. “We have never competed in our own meet, as our cadets provide all the manning for the 50-plus logistic and support functions we need to execute the event.”
While Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeants and instructors perform judging functions each year at the competition, filling those other support roles for the first time were U.S. Army Military Police School Advanced Leader Course students and ROTC cadets from Missouri State University, in Springfield, Missouri, Williams said.
Having service members at the event adds “another dimension of professionalism,” Williams said.
“They allow JROTC cadets to see what professional NCOs look like,” he added. “The drill sergeants and instructors provide invaluable training and mentoring to the cadets and team commanders, and the mere presence of the Army drill sergeants and Marine, Navy and Air Force instructors also adds an element of stress. That matters, as confidence and command presence is an element of drill.”
One of those volunteers, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Kessler, is a senior drill sergeant with Company A, 787th Military Police Battalion. He said he really enjoyed being involved with the competition.
“The kids really seemed motivated and well behaved, well disciplined, and you could tell that they put a lot of work into training and preparing for the competition,” he said. “I personally thought it was pretty awesome watching these kids really focus and give it their all.”
Kessler’s daughter is in the Waynesville JROTC program, although she did not participate in this competition. He said she speaks highly of the program’s leaders here.
“Their colonel, their first sergeant and their sergeant major seem to be really doing a good job with these kids,” he said. “The way they interact with them, the advice they give them — it’s a really great program.”
In addition to Lemmond’s second-place individual finish, Waynesville teams took:
- third place in Unarmed Exhibition;
- fourth place in Armed Regulation;
- fourth place in Armed Color Guard;
- fourth place in Armed Exhibition;
- fifth place in Unarmed New Cadet;
- fifth place in Unarmed Regulation; and
- fifth place in Unarmed Color Guard.
Williams thanked everyone who helped make this year’s competition a success.
“Due to COVID, fewer teams competed than in the past years, but it was still a great event and a big success,” Williams said.