ALVIN, Texas – The Alvin Independent School District helped recognize more than 100 veterans during a parade the day before Veterans Day this year, and among those recognized was a local U.S. Army Soldier who returned from Fort Hood to celebrate with his community.
Spc. Nicholas Mitchum, an information technology specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, III Armored Corps, was a member of Alvin High School's Marine Corps Junior ROTC program, graduating in 2020. He helped headline the festivities this Nov. 10, 2022, led by the Alvin High School Marine Corps JROTC program, as the community celebrated service members past and present from all branches to deafening applause on the school's football field.
“This program means so much to me and to my community,” said Mitchum of the JROTC program. “The discipline I gained here gave me an extra step after I joined the Army. Just getting to be here is an honor... this place, these people, mean the world to me.”
“He gets it from having a Marine as an instructor,” joked retired Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Stephen Garcia, the MCJROTC program’s first sergeant and instructor.
Mitchum, who recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of his entry into the Army, visited his hometown for Veterans Day to attend the ceremony, which was followed by the dedication of the MCJROTC’s new obstacle course.
The young Soldier was surprised with an additional honor by his community: he would get to be part of the first relay race to christen the new obstacle course.
After conquering the course to another round of applause alongside the members of the MCJROTC program’s physical training team, the gathered veterans shared a barbecue luncheon next to the course.
“It’s awesome to see these guys succeed and come back,” said Noah Perez, a MCJROTC cadet and one of the team members who joined Mitchum in running the course. “I have a lot of respect for them. It’s amazing.”
Mitchum joined the veterans and cadets for lunch and shared his experiences with them. He reflected on why he thought the Army and the armed services are a great career choice.
“It’s been amazing,” Mitchum said. “I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot, I’ve gotten to see the world... Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, Qatar.”
Mitchum said that one of his favorite aspects of service is the variety of people he’s gotten to meet while on the job.
“You’ll ask people what they do outside of work, and they’ll do things you never even heard of before,” Mitchum said. “They ski and hunt and fish, or they’ll be out here working on cars, or they play video games or are into anime or anything. Anyone can join the Army and kill it. You don’t have to change your heart or your hobbies to succeed.”
Lunch finished by the early afternoon, and while the cadets and alumni worked to clean up the space, 1st Sgt. Garcia paused to reflect on the meaning of the holiday.
“The kids hardly ever see me smile. I try to stay professional,” Garcia said. “Today, I’m smiling all day. This is one of the most important observances we have as a community. We show our community and veterans we care about them. The kids see all this, and they understand and appreciate everything that’s been sacrificed for them. They get to be a part of serving their community, and that’s how we build good citizens for the future.”
As for the Soldier from Fort Hood, the Marine instructor said he's proud of his former pupil.
“Seeing Mitchum out here doing amazing things, it’s great,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t matter what branch of service, it’s all about taking care of your community, being an outstanding citizen, and being involved.”