Keeping in step
Traveling to Fallon to watch Navy Junior ROTC cadets pass in review was like a small homecoming for retired Navy Capt. Daniel Wenceslao.
As manager for NJROTC Area 13, which includes Japan, Guam and most of the West except for southern California, Arizona and New Mexico, Wenceslao ensures programs are meeting the highest standards as established by regulation. After spending an hour of watching more than 100 cadets march on the gym floor, he expressed his satisfaction with the Churchill County High School cadets.
“I look at three things,” Wenceslao said after the inspection.” I see if the school is supporting the program properly, I look at classroom and office space and I look to see they are teaching the curriculum.”
As the area manager, Wenceslao evaluates the cadets on how they run the program.
“They look great,” Wenceslao said.
Wenceslao graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1976 and Navy flight school three years later He was assigned to an ES3 Viking, a four-seat, twin-engine turbofan-powered jet aircraft that was used to identify and track enemy submarines.
He retired after 28 years in the Navy, and for the past eight years, he has been involved with the NJROTC program. As a naval aviator, he trained twice at Naval Air Station Fallon, once as executive officer of a carrier air wing and the other as a carrier air wing commander.
The inspection of the ranks capped by the marching was done before many parents, educators and elected officials. School Board trustee Kathryn Whitaker attended her first NJROTC event.
“It was fantastic,” she said. “I was really pleased. I have never experienced anything like this. I see the dedication the students had to perform, and it is impressive.”
Whitaker said she noticed the precision required for the students to keep in step, make sharp turns and concentrate.
“This demonstrated the kids can commit and focus on a task that requires dedication,” she said. “They choose to be here and learn the experience. It’s a testament to their leaders and teachers of how well they do.”
Cadet Cmdr. Emily Scott was all smiles after the event.
“It went very well,” she said, adding all the cadets worked hard to impress the area manager. “We started practicing a month before … a lot of practice, a lot of repetition.”
Scott said she remembers her first pass in review and inspection and how scared and nervous she was. Over time, though, she said cadets become accustomed to the routine.
Third-year cadet Jordan Booth said the drill and ceremony becomes easier.
“I am more comfortable with it and it’s fun,” he said.
He said the hardest part about marching is keeping the military bearing and not smiling. The best part is when the cadets receive accolades from their instructors, or in this case, Wenceslao.
“My favorite is seeing everyone’s face after an inspection and we received high marks,” said Booth, who would like to attend the United States Naval Academy.
Capt. Robert Kermen, senior naval science instructor, said drill and ceremony is his favorite subject, and the cadets learned well.
“I thought it went well,” he said of the morning’s event. “The kids practiced for this and they pulled it off. They worked hard.”