By Sheila A. Gorman
Naval Medical Logistics Command
This is a cadence call one might hear while working on a military installation, but not what one would expect to hear in the middle of a gymnasium with 100 high school students.
At 7:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning at Frederick, Maryland's Linganore High School, cadets from the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps mustered for command inspection.
This is not the usual NJROTC weekly inspection from their fellow cadet officers but an inspection by two of the top brass from Fort Detrick's Naval Medical Logistics Command, who were invited to inspect the group.
Commander Mary Seymour, NMLC executive officer and Master Chief Petty Officer David Hall, NMLC Command Master Chief, walked up and down the rigid ranks of cadets who stared nervously forward.
“Hair. Shirt. Emblem. Head cover,” the inspectors note to the cadet recorders who list all the uniform corrections or deficiencies.
The pair from NMLC was asked to inspect the NJROTC cadets as they would their own command.
“Even though you are not active duty cadets, take pride when you wear the uniform. You are representing your school, your unit and all active duty who wear the uniform,” Seymour said to the assembled group.
“We were pretty tough on the cadets during inspection,” Seymour said to the group’s high school leader, retired Lt. Cmdr. Henry Lane, a Naval science instructor at the school and in charge of the NJROTC program since 2003.
The students are participating in a citizenship program that gives them a chance to practice their leadership skills, build confidence, practice self-discipline and promote patriotism, said retired Lane.
By being involved with the NJROTC program, cadets have the opportunity to participate and lead such activities as drill team, rifle team, community events, parades, military balls and field trips.
“It’s a way to honor my country and give back,” said Cadet Ensign Elizabeth Jones, NJROTC operations officer. Jones, a senior, said she already has her acceptance letter to college where she plans to enroll in an ROTC program and study international relations.
“I get a lot out of participating in the program,” said Cadet Seaman Kira Zimmerman, whose Dad was in the audience that morning. “My brother went through the NJROTC program here and is in ROTC in college. My Dad is active duty in the Army so I have great role models.”
The executive officer and Command Master Chief from NMLC not only inspected the cadets, but participated in bestowing command awards and promotions. They also viewed a demonstration by the rifle and drill teams and participated in a pass and review by the entire group.
“They were very impressive,” said Hall. “There is a lot of enthusiasm from the kids and we’ll assist them as much as we can.” The command drills up to four days a week, said Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Prithvi Mandayeam, the cadet commanding officer who has been with the program four years.
“By drilling and meeting so often, it’s a chance to talk to the new recruits and let them know what’s available to them,” said Mandayam. “We go over uniforms, teams, announcements, upcoming events and anything that affects NJROTC.
There is opportunity to attend leadership school and opportunity to participate in competition and gain leadership experience as become an officer in the program.”
Mandayam, who already holds an acceptance letter from the Naval Academy, said he would like to study aerospace engineering and spoke highly of the leadership opportunities through the NJROTC program.
Mandayam and his fellow cadet officers met with Seymour and Hall after the larger group was dismissed and listened to a few words of advice.
“Things don’t always go as planned. Part of being a leader is to be flexible and come up with creative, workable solutions,” said Seymour.
“Have a service ethos; get involved with your communities. We will not be here forever; we look to you to be our future leaders,” said Hall.