CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The Zama Middle High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ Trojan Battalion promoted 17 cadets and recognized its new leadership during a ceremony held Sept. 28 at the ZMHS auditorium.
Cadet Lt. Col. Bryan Ponce, the JROTC battalion commander, said the ceremony is significant because it recognizes its new leadership in front of their families, peers and school staff, and reinforces to the promoted cadets that they will be entrusted with the responsibilities and tasks that come along with their new rank.
Ponce said he remembers how honored he felt when he was promoted last year, and how ready he was to mentor the other cadets.
“I want them to do the best in their positions,” Ponce said. “I want them to keep getting promoted and do the best they can in their high school career.”
The Trojan Battalion currently has 49 cadets. When they are promoted, they get more responsibilities within the program, as well as opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills as they mentor other cadets, said retired Sgt. Maj. Danny Davis, the JROTC program's Army instructor.
“It’s a steep learning curve for them, but when you put them into a [leadership] position, a lot of them excel,” he said.
The mission of the Army JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens, Davis said, and events like the promotion ceremony help the cadets feel pride in themselves and hopefully push them to be better students and better cadets.
Newly promoted Cadet Pvt. Alyssa Turner, 13, said she felt nervous but also excited during the ceremony because it was her first experiencing such a milestone.
Alyssa said that through the JROTC program, she has learned various military customs, traditions and skills, such as how to properly raise a flag and fold it once it has been taken down, how to maintain and wear a uniform, and how to march and conduct rifle drills.
“Getting promoted was a goal of mine,” Alyssa said, adding that she intends to get further promoted in the future. “I am glad I reached the accomplishment that I was trying to reach.”
Alyssa’s father, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Command Sgt. Major Justin Turner, was in attendance at the ceremony and was able to promoted his daughter onstage. He called it a “proud dad moment” and said he was glad he could be there to support her and experience her promotion with her.
Turner said he thinks his daughter really enjoys being in JROTC program and attributed her promotion to her demonstrated dedication to the battalion’s drill team by volunteering and participating in all the practice sessions and events.
“The [JROTC] program will reinforce the qualities of discipline and teamwork to help her learn how to be a good citizen and patriot,” Turner said, “and [it] also gives her an opportunity to volunteer in the community and give back to a cause that’s greater than her own personal needs.”