Story by Lt. Col. Jim St. Clair on 04/04/2019More than 500 Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from around the state traveled to McEntire Joint National Guard Base to compete in the 2019 "Top Gun" Drill Meet, March 23.
This annual military drill and ceremony competition, hosted by the South Carolina Air National Guard, drew in 20 high schools from the Midlands, Upstate and the Lowcountry to participate in a dozen drill and ceremony competition events.
"Each year it's a pleasure for the South Carolina Air National Guard to host this event. We are lucky this year to have twenty schools participating, displaying the finest that our young high school students have to offer from the state of South Carolina," said Col. Michael Dunkin, 169th Fighter Wing Vice Commander.
Months of planning and practice went into making the day a success. In addition to giving the cadets a chance to compete for honors against the best of the best from around the state, the competition also served a secondary purpose of providing the students with exposure to possible military service and career opportunities after graduation.
"Regardless where you may end up in the future, whether it's military service or some other kind of service; the dedication, the focus, the attention to detail that you show today will serve you well in whatever you choose to do," Dunkin said. "We are proud of what each of you has accomplished here today."
The 12 drill and ceremony categories included platoon, squad, duet, and individual level competitions which featured precision marching, color guard as well as armed and unarmed routines. All the routines were held next to the base flight line with McEntire JNGB F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets serving as a backdrop. Inside individually designated and cordoned off drill pads, junior ROTC programs representing the Air Force, Army and Navy literally put their best foot forward to prove they were number one.
The overall winners for the 2019 Top Gun Drill Meet were:
1st place - Spring Valley High School, Columbia, S.C.
2nd place - Sumter High School, Sumter S.C.
3rd place - Camden Military Academy, Camden S.C.
4th place - Strom Thurmond High School, Johnston S.C.
Photos from this year's drill meet can be found on the S.C. Air National Guard Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thescang/albums/72157677393394257