Story by Scottt Thornbloom on 06/18/2019GREAT LAKES, Ill., (June 15, 2018) Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), welcomed more than 80 Area Three Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets, Naval Science Instructors (NSI) and staff members to the annual 2019 NJROTC Leadership Academy and Sail Training on Naval Station Great Lakes, June 10-15.
Top cadet sophomores and juniors from more than 20 high schools in six states throughout the Midwest attended the week-long course. The cadets from Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and West Virginia are slated to be the leaders of their NJROTC units in the upcoming school year.
For the first time, the cadets were housed and extensively used facilities at the Navy's only boot camp, Recruit Training Command (RTC). Several Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) and RTC staff members also assisted during the week with inspections and training sessions. This was in conjunction with RTC's personnel still conducting their ongoing mission of training the Navy's newest enlisted recruits.
"RTC really accommodated the cadets on a number of training evolutions. The fire fighter training, seamanship training and other training held at RTC really gave the cadets an in depth look at how recruits train to become (U. S. Navy) Sailors," said retired U. S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Don Wisneski, NSI at Harding High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This year's graduation ceremony was held in Ross Theater on Naval Station Great Lakes. Each cadet was recognized for receiving a silver shoulder cord at a dining-in the evening before the grad ceremony and for successfully completing the academy curriculum, inspections, drills and physical training.
"The whole reason we have NJROTC is to make you better citizens. It's to make you better people, with that higher character, that greater courage and to treat each other with respect," U. S. Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Sands, the NSTC commander told the cadets during a meet and greet on June 14. "All these are aspects of good citizenry -- to have a mindset of service, regardless of what you end up doing in your life. It's really fundamentally important stuff that you're getting exposed to in Junior ROTC."
Along with Lt. Cmdr. Wisneski, this year's academy was run by more than 25 NJROTC Area Three Naval Science Instructors (NSIs), staff members and former academy cadets. The academy has been held on Naval Station Great Lakes for the past 20 years.
According to retired U. S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kenneth Knotts, officer in charge of this year's leadership academy, the mission of the academy was to once again prepare cadets to be the leaders in their units.
"I'm hoping the cadets were able to take on and apply the leadership training they received," Knotts said. I hope they enjoyed the sail and, for the first time, kayak training. I hope the cadets were excited to experience RTC and some of the same training recruits have to accomplish to become Sailors."
He added he hoped the cadets were able to take away and take back to their units a sense of teamwork and other perspectives on leadership.
Knotts said one of the most prominent events during the week was a military dining-in June 14. Dining-in is a formal military ceremonial dinner for members of a company or unit, which includes the dinner and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps. The cadets also received their silver aiguillette, or shoulder cord, at the dinning-in. The silver shoulder cord signifies the successful completion of the leadership academy and that the cadet is ready to assume a leadership position within their unit. At the end of the graduation ceremony on June 15, each cadet came up on stage to be congratulated by NSTC's Command Master Chief Jimmy Hailey and official party members.
"Character and Core Values, that's what our Navy Junior ROTC is all about," Hailey said. "(NJROTC is) helping you discover good character traits that will make you better leaders, students and members of our society. You're the best of the best, the leaders of tomorrow, not only in your respective units, but also in life and whatever careers you decide to pursue. The traits that make us so proud of our men and women in uniform are the same very traits that make you all a great value to our nation."
During the week, the cadets toured and received training at a number of RTC's training facilities, the same ones that train every enlisted recruit joining the Navy. They learned how recruits train to handle shipboard mooring lines in the USS Marlinspike Seamanship Trainer, a large mockup of a ship. Many of the cadets donned the firefighting equipment, handled fire hoses and learned how Sailors fight fires on Navy ships. They visited the Small Arms Marksmanship Trainer, or SAMT, and learned how Sailors train to handle and fire small arms in the Navy. The biggest draw was the sail training, where the cadets learned how to operate a 14-foot sailboat on Lake Michigan. The boats were provided by the Naval Station Great Lakes Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department, as they have been in the past. For the first time the cadets also got to learn how to operate and paddle kayaks around the Naval Station Marina.
"This week was great," said Cadet Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Reindl, 16, an incoming junior from Greenwood High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky. "What I liked was learning how to sail, learning teamwork and building myself up to where I need to be for the future as a leader. I look forward to bringing home what I learned here to my unit and sharing with my unit's cadets."
Cadet Chief Petty Officer Nicky Her, 16, an incoming junior from Harding High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, said she learned working together is more than worrying about yourself. "You have to take care of others and make sure everyone is working together. The best thing about the week was getting to know everyone and making new friends," she said
"This week was very entertaining and very educational. It was a unique experience that I'm not sure I'd get to do anywhere else," said Cadet Ensign Natalie Garcia, 16, an incoming junior at Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. "I definitely will take back what I learned here to my unit, especially the leadership discussions we had."
Cadet Ensign Reyanna Solomon, 16, a junior from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio, said she took away from the Leadership Academy was taking accountability for her own actions. "When people give me commands, I should own it and make it my own and I should be more confident in leading other cadets."
"The Leadership Academy and being here on the base and at RTC, really made me decide that I might want to make the Navy a career choice," said Cadet Lt. j. g. Anton Heft, 16, an incoming junior at Zion Benton Township High School in Zion, Illinois. "The week also showed me how I should be disciplined in my actions, what kind of responsibility I should take, and to do everything to the best of my abilities."
Area Three Manager, retired U. S. Navy Cmdr. Joe Hankins said he wanted all the cadets attending the Leadership Academy to take back to their units what they've learned during the week-long academy and use the skills and display the characteristics that make a good leader.
"We want all the graduating cadets to be proud of what they've accomplished and for them to understand that when they wear their coveted silver cord,' we will hold them to a higher standard and we will expect them to lead by example while displaying the highest standards of leadership and citizenship at all times."
Hankins said the opportunity to hold the academy on the base each year, especially this year at RTC, has been a tremendous benefit to the cadets and instructors.
"I think it's very important we continue to hold the Leadership Academy at Naval Station Great Lakes because it is a perfect setting for the cadets to learn about the Navy and about leadership in a controlled Navy setting," he said. "Additionally, holding the training here allows the cadets to experience daily life on a Navy base, see how the Navy's newest Sailors are trained, and allow them to learn and experience Navy history," he said.
For more than 20 years Naval Station Great Lakes has hosted a Leadership Academy for NJROTC Area Three cadets. More than 25-years-ago NJROTC Leadership Academies were developed in order to prepare selected NJROTC cadets for leadership roles in their respective units by teaching certain leadership characteristics which aren't necessarily available, nor, normally taught at the cadet's home unit. To this end, NJROTC Leadership Academies have four objectives. They are:
a. To promote habits of orderliness and precision, and to develop respect for constituted authority.
b. To challenge and motivate cadets to push toward an improved physical and intellectual limit. Cadets will continually be called upon to meet high standards of personal appearance, self-discipline, and meticulous attention to detail.
c. To instill a high degree of personal honor, self-reliance, and confidence in each cadet by presenting a military environment in which cadets will be forced to rely upon themselves and their shipmates to study, work, and learn.
d. To enhance the basic attitude, knowledge and skills required to practice the art of leadership.
"The summer Leadership Academy camp positively influences the NJROTC program's best and brightest students, and supports NSTC's Citizenship Development mission. The Leadership Academy could not succeed without great support and a selfless volunteer effort from our incredible NJROTC instructor pool. It is very encouraging to see these students benefiting from this incredible opportunity," said Tim Daseler, NSTC Deputy Commander for NJROTC Operations, who was visiting from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where the NJROTC Operations offices are located.
Daseler thanked all military bases, like Naval Station Great Lakes and RTC, and college campuses across the country that graciously host Leadership Academies each year.
NJROTC is a citizenship development program that instills in high school students, in U.S. secondary educational institutions, the value of citizenship and service to the United States. The program is divided into 11 areas across the United States that also include units in Italy, Spain, Japan and Guam. There are more than 86,000 student cadets in more than 580 units.
The NJROTC program is currently supported by Sands and his NSTC staff, headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois and on Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. NSTC supports 98 percent initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This training includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program at more than 150 colleges and universities that either host NROTC units or have cross-town enrollment agreements with a host university. NSTC also oversees Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, Rhode Island, Recruit Training Command (RTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, as well as NJROTC.
For more information on NJROTC visit www.njrotc.navy.mil/.
For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/NavalServiceTraining/.