HONOLULU, Hawaii -- For former secretary of state and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, his ROTC days were where he "found himself."

Powell met with Hawaii JROTC cadets at Punahou School, here, Jan. 31, after accepting an email invitation from retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Takao, senior Army instructor, Punahou JROTC.

During his visit, Powell described joining the ROTC during college as one of the happiest experiences of his life. He discovered something he loved and could do well.

"Once I was in college, about six months into college … I found something that I liked, and that was ROTC," Powell said, "and I not only liked it, but I was pretty good at it."

Powell was a Soldier for 35 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions. He rose to the rank of four-star general and became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It was a real honor to meet Gen. Powell," said Cadet Lt. Col. Jayce Young, battalion commander, Kahuku JROTC.

The Kahuku unit is partnered through the Hawaii-military school partnership program with 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command.

Kahuku has 115 JROTC participants this year.

"His message to me was, it doesn't matter where you come from, or what school you went to, or what college you graduate from," Young said, recalling his meeting with the general. "Anything can be accomplished as long as you put your mind and heart into it."

Cadet Captain Taylor Cook, battalion operations officer, Kahuku JROTC, was also inspired.

"Meeting Gen. Powell was something that can only happen once in your life, to meet a great American hero and someone that rose to the very top of military command.

"His message was clear. You can achieve your dreams if you work hard, enjoy what you're doing and never give up," Cook said.

(Editor's Note: Schiller is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and the senior Army instructor for Kahuku Army JROTC.)