MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
While most students look forward to their summer breaks to soak up the sun at the nearest beach, hang out with friends, lounge around watching television or catch up on their sleep, a select group of students from three area high schools recently visited Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany for two intensive days of leadership training.
The Marine Corps Junior Reserved Officers’ Training Corps cadets from Westover and Dougherty High Schools, Albany, and Colquitt County High, Moultrie, Ga., began their training with a video and brief from Sgt. Maj. Stephen Thomas, sergeant major, MCLB Albany.
“As young adults, you have to make a lot of decisions, many of which will affect you for the rest of your life,” Thomas said. “Something as simple as a sleeve tattoo at age 14 will disqualify you from a lot of things, including the military. We tell Marines now not to do certain things because it prevents them from getting jobs should they decide to get out. It limits you.”
Thomas encouraged the cadets to make wise choices and set goals. He also stressed the importance of getting good grades, continuing their education and choosing friends wisely.
“Decide what you want to do one, three, five and 10 years from now,” he said. “Ask yourself if the Marine Corps can help you get there. It is also important that you not only graduate, but (do so )as close to the top of your class as possible. You do not want to close any doors, burn any bridges, kill any opportunities by getting into trouble or letting others get you into trouble because you have your whole life ahead of you.”
The cadets’ training consisted of a tour of Maintenance Center Albany, Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer, a working-dog demonstration, land navigation, sword manual classes, close order drills and a hands-on demonstration of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Paul J. Nagy, senior military instructor, Colquitt County High School, said the leadership camp is for all of the students who will be unit and platoon leaders at their respective schools in the fall.
“We are spending this time to educate them more about the Marine Corps and prepare them for leadership roles,” he said. “It helps to train them now so they can assist with the more than 140 others during the school year. There is no way two instructors can do it alone, so we rely on a good cadre of senior leaders to get the job done.”
Nagy said there are more than 300 MCJROTC units in the nation and all are required to have a summer leadership camp.Later this year, he will bring all 180-plus cadets back to MCLB Albany for follow-up and additional training like the obstacle course and combat fitness test.
According to the Web site, www.mcjrotc.org, the Marine Corps JROTC program plays an important role in the success of America’s children and communities. Since its inception in 1916, the JROTC program has been viewed as a strong program that provides youth with much-needed skills in citizenship and leadership. The effects of a Marine Corps JROTC unit extend far beyond the classroom and into the community in developing character, leadership and civic responsibility.
The program makes a difference by keeping children in school, providing an environment conducive to their personal development and growth, and helping them become productive members of the community. The program ultimately produces young men and women who are ready to accept the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.