Story by David Baker
Photos by Jennifer Baker
Friends, family, and faculty of the Paloma Valley High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps were treated to a special military awards ceremony Tuesday night.
The Paloma Valley High School NJROTC Wildcat Battalion celebrated the Pass-In-Review, which is the final phase of the Annual Military Inspection. This counts for 60 percent of their grade for the cadets, who number nearly 200 -- one of the largest NJROTC units in the state.
The evening opened with music from cadets from the 1st Marine Division Band, followed by cadets marching in step and twirling their rifles in an exhibition performance. Following a brief invocation, the cadets marched in formation onto the field. The cadets completed their march by dividing into their individual platoons and performing a flag ceremony and the national anthem.
Senior Naval Science Instructor and Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Fitzgerald addressed the crowd and told the proud history of the battalion.
“They asked me to keep this brief,” he said, “but I need to tell you about this program two and a half years ago.”
He went on to tell how at that time there were only 70 cadets, the Navy had ceased funding, and the program was on the chopping block. The Navy was cutting all programs that were under 100 participants. Thanks to the dedicated cadets in the group who didn’t want to see it go and both community and school support, the program now boasts 195 cadets.
The awards presented that evening were a wide variety of rank promotions and the presenting of Physical Fitness Ribbons, which most of the cadets were awarded.