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From the newest recruit to the most decorated and promoted veteran on the squad, the Charger Battalion Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Strawberry Crest High School wants the world to know who they are and what they stand for. In early September, Patriot Day ceremonies were conducted throughout Hillsborough County, the state, and the entire country. The Hillsborough Veterans Council hosted a special Patriot Day Commemoration at Veterans Park located on Highway 301, and the Strawberry Crest High School (SCHS) Charger Battalion was invited to provide a Rifle Drill Squad in support of the event. Under the guidance of their Senior Army Instructor Lieutenant Colonel, (Ret.) John Ingraham, the SCHS cadets were honored and excited to be a part of the days’ programming. All year long they had worked hard to ensure that America never forgets the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and this was an excellent way to convey that message.
At the event, the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Riding Club led hundreds of motorbikes on a trek prior to the ceremony. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones made opening remarks followed by keynote speaker Corporal Michael Jernigan, USMC, a retired Iraq War combat veteran and spokesperson for the Southeastern Guide Dogs and Paws for Patriots Program. The Roiling Thunder Veterans conducted a POW/MIA Ceremony which included setting a formal dinner table for the many veterans who never came home from war. Hundreds of veterans were on hand to recognize the sacrifices of their comrades who never came home. Police and First Responders were also present to represent the countless men and women who rushed to the aid of victims on that fateful day fourteen years ago.
Afterwards, Charger JROTC Cadets were given a tour of the park's grounds and monuments. They received a commemorative coin as a small token of appreciation for a job well done. According to Cadet Corporal Kaci Nelson, a squad leader in Foxtrot Company, "It was an honor to participate in this ceremony.” Those participating from SCHS included Cadet Command Sergeant Major Ryan Whaley, Corporals Ryan Lee and Kaci Nelson, Staff Sergeant Christopher Houser, Sergeants Dale Van Vugt and Christopher Kidd, and Private First Class Alicia Best.
Please enjoy the Flickr photo album below that showcases not only the Patriot Day events, but what it’s like for cadets in a normal Wednesday morning JROTC class at Strawberry Crest High School. For more information about Army JROTC, visit http://www.usarmyjrotc.com/. To see more about Veteran’s events and memorials, go to http://veteransparkhc.com/. Visit http://strawberrycrest.mysdhc.org/ to learn more about Strawberry Crest H.S.View Full Album