High School students take tips from the pros

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
"The goals are to be fair, consistent and efficient," said retired Lt. Col. Thomas Moran, host of the competition and the East vice president of the Virginia State Air Force Association, during the judges briefing. "However, be picky - very picky."

Following that note, members of the U. S. Air Force Honor Guard drill team volunteered to judge different portions of the Virginia AFA JROTC drill competition April 30 at Atlee High School, Mechanicsville, Va.

The team judged the students in various areas of drill and armed drill.

This was the sixth annual Virginia AFA JROTC drill competition, but this year the organization added some excitement, inviting the Joint Base Eustis-Langley, Va. Air Force color guard to present during an opening ceremony and having the USAF Honor Guard drill team perform for the crowd.

In-between judging, the drill team members would take the opportunity to give advice to the cadets.

"I can kind of relate to this because back when I was in high school I was in Junior ROTC, so I know exactly where they are coming from," said Airman 1st Class Christopher Martinez, member of the Air Force Drill Team, and native of Winter Springs, Fla.

While Airman Martinez inspected cadet's uniforms, he was attentive of each cadet's discipline and presentation.

"You have a string there," he points to the cadet's uniform.

"Yes sir," the cadet responds.

"Make sure you fix it before your next drill, now do your best," said Airman Martinez.

The Virginia AFA leaders were at a meeting seven years ago and discovered they didn't have a state JROTC championship, and from there decided to create one, said Colonel Moran.
"You know what's great about this," said Colonel Moran. "You get to see young boys and girls acting like young men and women, and you know why? We [the Air Force] only get the best."
"Seeing a group like us perform is just really inspiring, especially at that age," said Airmen Martinez.

Atlee High School hosted approximately 400 cadets from 32 units. Two-thirds of the state's JROTC units participated.

"This is my first time getting to travel out with you guys, and I thought it was awesome," said Captain Hochstein, commander of the USAF Honor Guard's Drill Team. "With the crowds rolling...it was awesome."

Then, students flooded through the door anxiously waiting for the team's signatures. One student has the team sign her cast.

Finally, every routine was scored to 100, and the winners were announced for each category.

The overall winners were E.C. Glass High School of Lynchburg, Va. They defended their title and have now won two years in a row.

Additionally, six medallions were handed out to the top performers at the competition.

The Virginia AFA currently has approximately 7,000 members and nine chapters. It is a non-profit organization open to anyone with interest in the Air Force, said retired Col. J. Randy Hobbs, president of the Virginia AFA. With present-day missions and assignments for active duty Airmen, the organization has seen more Air Force Veterans step up in leadership positions within the association and less active duty. However, anyone who supports the AF is welcomed to join.