Marines help develop future leaders
By Cpl Isaac Pacheco
| | April 8, 2004
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Junior Reserve Officer Training Cadets at Dougherty County High School were treated to a different type of learning experience Mar. 24 when two Marines from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany visited their school.
The Marines spent the day helping the students hone their rifle manual skills before grading each platoon's performance with a drill evaluation. Shouts of "Ooh Rah" and "Aye sir" echoed through the school's corridors as the students proudly practiced their drill outside for all to see.
The classes' senior Marine instructor, Maj. Ronald Underdahl (USMC Ret.) said visits like this one provide opportunities for the students to learn from positive role models.
"The main goals of our mission here are to build self-discipline and self-confidence," Underdahl said. "We want to help these kids overcome obstacles and train them to be strong leaders."
Underdahl repeatedly stressed how important JROTC programs, like the one at Dougherty High, are to building a stronger relationship with the local community and for developing future leaders.
"I think this program is positively impacting the lives of the students in this community," Underdahl said. "I really appreciate it when Marines come out here and work with the students because it means a lot to (the students), and they look forward to it."
One of the Marines who participated in the school visit saw the experience as an excellent opportunity for him to give back to the community while challenging himself.
"I live for this type of thing," explained Cpl. Curtis Dansby, disbursing clerk. "Coming out here and working with the kids really motivates me and gives me a chance to get away from behind a computer. I would do this everyday if I could."
Dansby shared his knowledge and drill experience with each of the platoons during their normally scheduled class time, and graded their overall performance at the end of the school period.
The students weren't told their scores until the end of the day, but by the looks on their faces it wasn't the numbers they cared about.
"Their motivation level is awesome," Dansby said. "They just want to learn and have someone teach them. This experience is probably as rewarding for me as it is for them."
The students' faces either glowed or cringed as Dansby ran through each platoons' performance, but the overall sentiment seemed to be one of appreciation.
"This JROTC is great because we're close to a Marine base," said Antonio Ewings, platoon commander, Dougherty High School JROTC. "It motivates me when Marines come and work with us. I get to see how they act and talk. Marines come here a lot and help us with drill, but we can still use more."
Ewings, slated for boot camp this summer, says Marine involvement is one of the main reasons he joined the Marine Corps.
"I never really thought I could do anything like this. At first I was very nervous," Ewing said. "The Marines helped me understand that I could run things and make a difference."