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MY JROTC EXPERIENCE

I remember when I first put on a uniform and stood in formation for the first time. I know you probably don't care but I think you'll find this interesting.

I was a freshman at Bitburg American High School, Germany. I had joined up with Air Force JROTC during mid-year because I had a strong desire to become an officer in the Air Force. It was Thursday, the Wing's (Battalion in Army terms) uniform inspection day had been the day before. But this day after lunch I had gotten my uniforms: a service dress uniform consisting of a dark blue service coat, dark blue trousers, a light blue long sleeve shirt, a blue belt, a blue fight cap, blue tie and standard issue shoes. Of course, I had my name tag, white shirt and black socks with me. Then for some strange reason I felt overwhelmed by my new sharpness and decided to dress up in my uniform. After getting in my uniform for the first time, I reported to E Flight, my class period. Now, the AFJROTC unit I was in had no rules about wearing uniforms on non-uniform days. In fact, if cadet didn't wear his uniform on uniform day, he was required to wear it the next day, uniform day or not. Anyway, after we said the Pledge of Allegiance, the Aerospace Instructor, Lt.Col. Matson, called me up to the front of the room. I stood at attention, which was the only thing I knew at the time. Then he inspected me in front of everyone. I remember one thing he said during the inspection about my shirt: "Did you iron this shirt or did your mother?" I nervously answered "No, sir." It was only later that I found out he was joking. Then as fast as it began, it was over and I was dismissed to my seat.

I'm not sure why I mentioned an Air Force JROTC memory in an article for Army JROTC. Every now and then I think of this when I put on my Army JROTC uniform because I believe it set me in the right direction towards learning leadership and confidence.

I've said enough about my memories, I should be talking about other things. For those of you who don't know, my name is Eduardo Salinas, or Ed. I am the Battalion S-3, or the training officer (Just a reminder: you need to know this! Its part of the Chain of Command). What I basically do is write up training schedules, and alert the battalion on what your supposed to be doing and learning. I enjoy working around computers, soccer, Star Trek, reading (I recommend Catch-22 or 2001: A Space Odyssey) and being in the company of friends. Also, many people in staff consider me to be sometimes eccentric.

Since I joined up when I got to Panama in 1995, I enjoyed Army JROTC. It has taught me leadership, confidence, and discipline. It is also very fun because it teaches me teamwork and companionship. Of course, I've had my falls. But without the help of SGM Martinez, SGM Goodrum, and may cadet leaders, I have always recovered because they were always there.

Now as a senior, I look back and reflect upon my early years in Air Force JROTC, just learning how to do facing movements and march. Of course everyone has to start somewhere, and it is very rare that someone does something perfect the first time. Now, I'm a top class Army JROTC cadet, doing an important leadership job.

I guess the only advice I could give is to never give up. Of course, you'll be nervous, like I was in my first inspection. But fear not, you're here to learn. And like it is said on GI Joe, "Learning is half the battle." I guess it is obvious that applying is the other half. Once you have learned enough, you'll not only be a sharp cadet in JROTC, but a good responsible citizen in the future. And as you clearly know, that's the mission of JROTC.

Good luck and Live long and Prosper!