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“It’s not easy putting on that uniform when other kids are putting on hoodies, but it’s well worth it. You should feel proud,” said Captain James Prouty.
Members of the Brewster High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps–131 in total–gathered recently in the gymnasium, looking sharp–shirts pressed, shoes shined, ribbons and medals affixed, hair pulled back or closely cropped– for their annual Area Managers Inspection.
The inspection is meant to ensure that the group operates and maintains U.S. Navy standards including the proper wearing of the Navy uniform, personal appearance, general knowledge of the U.S. Navy, General Orders and Chain of Command, and an exhibition of armed Color Guard and unarmed drill which ends with a Pass and Review parade. In other words, it’s a big deal.
“Commanding Officer Emma Bridges, a senior at the high school, has worked hard to prepare the cadets,” said Senior Naval Science Instructor Captain Matt Loughlin, an instructor of the NJROTC program.
NJROTC is an elective class for students at the high school. The program is thriving under the command of Naval Science Instructors Captain Loughlin and Command Master Chief Mike Campbell.
There are more participating students than ever before and lots of new opportunities like learning to operate drones, air rifle marksmanship, academic and drill teams, as well as field trips to the military academies and parades. The community is like a family and this year alone seniors who have gone through the program are finding their hard work is paying off with monetary scholarships to elite universities as well as presidential nominations for West Point and Annapolis.
Before the inspection, the platoons have an opportunity to practice. There are five platoons each with a platoon leader and about 25 cadets–a mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. As each platoon practices, the rest of the class sits watching in the bleachers.
“The kids lead the kids,” said Command Master Chief Campbell.
“You got this Jarrid,” one student yelled over to sophomore Jarrid Bryggman, the Student Platoon Leader for Platoon #1.”
“Morning Captain!” said Bryggman as he stands and salutes, facing Loughlin.
Bryggman joined NJROTC because his brother went through the program. After he graduates, he wants to become a Navy trauma surgeon.
Bryggman is in a Naval dress uniform, blue with a white shipman’s hat. On his left breast are four rows of ribbons for different achievements.
“The bottom row is for inside Brewster such as physical achievements, one is for a cheesecake fundraiser and another is for a chess competition. The top row of ribbons are Naval ribbons for participation in drill meets, marching, air rifles, and academics. Then there are ribbons for community service, and AMI inspections. If we score really well today, we will get a distinguished unit ribbon. We really want to get that this year.”
Bryggman also wears two medals: “The purple heart is not because I got wounded in battle–it’s for showing leadership and taking initiative. The AmVets medal is for getting 100% on uniform inspection all year. “
The cadets in the platoon are dressed in service uniforms–brown shirts and black pants and a black hat with a brass anchor pin on the side.
“Line up squad. After closed ranks, you will fall out to your left. Then to the right.” Bryggman said.
The gym instantly became quiet and the group stood at attention. The guest of honor arrived. Captain James Prouty, USN, will perform the inspection. Captain Prouty, who went to the Naval Academy and currently commands a unit in Norfolk Virginia, is a graduate of Brewster High School, so this inspection is especially meaningful.
Prouty made a straight line for Platoon #1 for the start of the inspection. The group was standing at attention in three rows, eight astride. Captain Prouty quietly spoke to each cadet–asking his or her name, and a few questions–who is the secretary of defense, what a ribbon or medal was awarded for, the meaning of general orders, and chain of command.
“Good morning, sir!” said cadet Jay King.
“How are you?” asked Prouty.
“Outstanding sir!” said King.
“He asked me about my brown ribbon which I got for community service,” said Ryan Martin.
“He asked me about my belt,” said Danna Hernandez.
After each row has been inspected, Bryggman called out “uncover two.” As he does this, line members took off their hats. “Cover.” And the hats were put back on.
After the general inspection, was the Pass In Review ceremony, which administrators and parents attend. The students are put at ease by Captain Loughlin, “Bend your knees and smile! Well done! You did it!”
Captain Prouty said, “Emma, your company looks wonderful. I can’t think of a better way to come back to my hometown, Brewster. I want you to know that although I graduated from the Naval Academy, I was in the middle of my class in high school, with not great SAT scores. Why do I tell you that? Because you can always change your future. Today your shoes may not have been the shiniest, that’s ok. Do better tomorrow. I am so proud of you. You joined a community that’s more than yourself. I know it’s not easy putting on that uniform when other kids are putting on hoodies. But it’s well worth it. You should feel proud.”
The ceremony continued with awards for outstanding cadets for uniform and a meritorious award to Cadet Kolka for rendering aid to his grandfather, who suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night. The drill team impressed the audience with its precision by marching in close order.
“Commanding Master Chief, is your company motivated?” asked cadet Bridges.
“Hu-Rah!”-Heard, Understood, Recognized, and Acknowledged–the entire platoon yelled.
“Ma’m the company is motivated!” said Cadet Master Chief Chelsea-Nicole Newton
“Permission to Pass Company review?” asked Bridges.
“Pass the company in review,” ordered Captain Prouty.
As the military march played, the platoons marched around the gymnasium saluting Captain Prouty as they passed by.
This is a press release provided by the organization. It has been lightly edited and is being published by Examiner Media as a public service.
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