Standing tall and looking good, marching in perfect synch, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadets showcased their skills with weapons, drill commands, and knowledge during the Thunderbird Classic at Lt. Col. Karen Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 14, 2023.
Seven noncommissioned officers assigned to U.S. Army South, 410th Contracting Support Brigade, and U.S. Army North were on hand to judge approximately 200 students, representing 30 schools. Students who rose to the challenge and competed for the top spot at the state’s largest drill competition.
“This gave us the opportunity to get out there and engage with the community and continue to build local partnerships,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shanaye Davis, a contracting noncommissioned officer assigned to 410th Contracting Support Brigade.
The competition tested JROTC cadets in various events including armed and unarmed drill, color guard, marksmanship, and physical training. It tested their ability to work together as a team, while instilling discipline and military bearing.
Davis, the vice president of the Fort Sam Houston Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, tested cadets on their proficiency in armed regulations.
“I was primarily looking for compliance with established regulations and attention to detail,” she continued. “Additionally, I wanted to identify potential areas for improvement and address deficiencies. Overall, the section was designed to assess their knowledge and capabilities in accordance with TC 3-21.5, Drill and Ceremony.”
Watching these young men and women in uniform compete, one might think they were actual Soldiers, not high school cadets. Each group marched with precision, taking sharp turns and smooth pivot steps. They answered questions with confidence, stood ready for inspection and even snapped their weapons to drills with commanding presence.
The NCOs inspected the cadets, circling around them to pinpoint any possible flaw from every angle.
Although the Soldiers’ presence as judges may have been somewhat intimidating, it also served as a motivator for the students to do their best.
“I appreciate them coming out,” Luis Ojeda, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School, admitted. “I know the judges have lived through much of what we are showcasing, so it motivates us to be as precise and professional as possible.”
Among the judges was Staff Sgt. Phillip Magliba, a contracting noncommissioned officer assigned to the 410th Contracting Support Brigade. He has an idea of what emotions are running through the cadets’ minds as he was once in their shoes. Magliba was on the receiving end of being inspected by judges at drill competitions during his time at Kailua High School in Hawaii.
“From the outside as a judge now, I can appreciate what I am seeing today,” he stated as reminisced on the past. “I can tell them, ‘I know what you’ve been through, and this is something you should be proud of.’”
Most of the students spend long hours training to compete here. This training fosters respect and pride in themselves, their hard work, and their schools.
“These cadets are spending almost every day practicing along with their academics and other extracurricular activities,” Magliba said with conviction. “You can see the commitment to excellence here today. They put all this hard work in, and you can see the expression of accomplishment on their faces when they’re done.”
Having active-duty Soldiers come out to help with judging the young cadets was not just community service, it shows that military members can serve beyond the confines of battle.
This competition is designed to promote strong work ethic and reward excellence. Regardless of the results, the ARSOUTH, 410th CSB, and ARNORTH NCOs were happy to participate and pass on their knowledge to the future force.
“It doesn’t matter if these kids have a set path to the military, college, or the civilian workforce,” Davis explained. “They still look up to us, so we are out here setting the standard on how to be successful.”