VINTON–Many branches of the United States Armed services hold formal military dinners to “foster camaraderie and esprit de corps.” In the Army and Marine Corps the event is generally called “Mess Night.” The Air Force and Navy call it “Dining-In” if the attendees are limited to the military, “Dining-Out” if spouses and other guests are invited.
The William Byrd High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AF JROTC) held their ninth annual Dining-Out ceremony on April 30.
The event included not just a formal dinner and keynote speaker, but an awards ceremony to honor cadet accomplishments during the past year. This year the “Change of Command” ceremony was also conducted during the course of the evening.
The Corps recognized artist Courtney Thompson and WBHS teacher Alicia Spangler for “sustained outstanding support” to the unit. Thompson spent over 60 hours painting murals on the walls of the JROTC hallway and designed the unit patch. Spangler has shown an “amazing devotion” to the Corps in assisting with field trips and events.
The generations-old tradition of the Grog continued. The grog is a drink prepared from secret and rumored unappetizing ingredients and served from a toilet bowl. Cadets were given an official list of rules to follow for the evening and those who did not follow them were called to drink from the Grog Bowl to make restitution.
Following dinner, guest speaker Colonel Stan Diez (U.S. Army Retired), challenged the cadets with five steps to living a meaningful and productive life.
He told them to determine “where you are now, where you are going, to ‘walk the walk’, be prepared, and be all you can be.”
Diez graduated from West Point in 1959, received Airborne and Ranger training, holds advanced engineering degrees, and completed the Army Command and General Staff College and Army War College. He has served at Fort Bragg, in Germany, Vietnam, Korea, and at the Pentagon.
Following his remarks, the Change of Command Ceremony was conducted by WBHS Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI), Colonel Jay Thompson, in which the outgoing cadet Commander , Lieutenant Colonel Michael Adams passed the guidon to the incoming cadet Commander Daniel Naff.
The presentation of awards to the WBHS cadets followed. Aerospace Science Instructor (ASI) Senior Master Sergeant Paul Richardson explained that the awards were based on the Air Force Core Value of “Excellence in all we do.”
Richardson commended the cadets for completing 1500 hours of community service for which they will receive individual Service Ribbons.
The Co-curricular Activities Leadership Ribbon for exemplary leadership was presented to Makayla Clemmer for spearheading Relay for Life and to Hunter Ashley for organizing the Military Ball (Dining-Out).
Clemmer and Ashley were selected by the SASI to receive the Outstanding Cadet Ribbons–one from each year group–along with Carson Koloda and Alexis Buchan.
Superior Performance Ribbons–limited to 10 percent of the Corps–went to Casey Robinson, Jacob Willard, Brittney Mathis, Kim Sheffield, Matthew Tench, and Ethan Stohler for meritorious service for the unit.
The JROTC Region Director, Lt. Col. Williams, inspected the corps at William Byrd recently and recognized Clemmer and Paul Campbell with Top Performer Awards for their “outstanding contributions in making the unit successful.”
Col. Thompson presented the Outstanding Flight Ribbon to the flight of cadets who through community service, grade point average, overall classroom discipline, and uniform wear, made the most outstanding contribution to the Corps. The award to Bravo Flight was accepted by their Flight Leader, Jordan Baker.
Several national level awards were presented based on such criteria as leadership, maturity, academic excellence, and integrity.
The Air Commando Association award was presented to Hunter Ashley, who also won the Reserve Officers Association Award, which goes to a cadet in the top 10 percent of his class with outstanding personal character.
Regent Barbara West and Vice Regent Sharon Menzies presented the Daughters of the American Revolution Award to Ashley. This award goes to fourth year cadets who demonstrate qualities of dependability and good character, leadership, adherence to military discipline, and a fundamental and patriotic understanding of JROTC training.
The National Society United States Daughters of 1812 award went to Jasmine Allinson. Cadets Carson Koloda and Michael Koloda received the Retired Enlisted Association Award, presented annually for exceptional leadership to the most outstanding AFJROTC cadet serving in an enlisted rank.
The Tuskegee Airmen Air Force JROTC Cadet Awards were presented to Chance Harrison and Justine St. Clair. Recipients participate in at least 50 percent of all unit service programs and attain a “B” or better in their Aerospace Science Class.
James Tate from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War presented his association’s award to Chase Caldwell, based on superior classroom accomplishments and performances with the Color Guard.
The Air Force Sergeants’ Association Award was given to Paul Campbell who will serve as the new Inspector General of the Corps.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart award was given to Clemmer. To win this award, a cadet must demonstrate outstanding leadership, display a positive attitude, and maintain a “B” average in all subjects for the previous semester. She also won the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award.
John Hartsock from the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction presented their award to Daniel Naff. This award goes to a cadet who participates in community projects and demonstrates academic excellence, leadership, and patriotism.
Chuck Poland from the Sons of the American Revolution presented Justin Creasy with this award. The recipient must be in the top 10 percent of their AFJROTC class and in the top 25 percent of their overall class. They must show military bearing, all-around excellence in Aerospace Science, and a high degree of leadership.
The Military Officers Association of America award was presented to Noah Cornett by U.S. Navy Captain Gary Powers. This award is based on the potential for military leadership.
The Military Order of World Wars award for a cadet who is committed to continue in the aerospace science program was won by Lindsey Mercer.
Mike Fries of the American Veterans organization presented the AmVets Award to Victoria Buchan and Trevor Ayersman for demonstrating great officer potential. Hunter Ashley received $1000 from the group as a graduate going on to college or the military.
The winner of the American Legion General Military Excellence Award was Daniel Naff. Jordan Baker was recognized with the American Legion Scholastic Award.
The Order of Daedalians pilots’ organization presented their award to Paul Campbell. This award is meant to encourage cadets who demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of patriotism, love of country, and service to the nation.
The highest award of the evening, the Air Force Association Award, was presented to Makayla Clemmer. This is described as “the highest level award you can win without putting yourself at risk of life or bodily harm.” She was also recognized for this accomplishment at the Air Force Association banquet on May 2.
Col. Thompson closed the awards ceremony by thanking the cadets, their parents, and the community for standing behind the JROTC program at William Byrd. The cadets are not just an integral part of the school but of the entire Vinton community and the Roanoke Valley, where they participate in countless events, such as parades and ceremonies on Veterans’ Day or the Fourth of July, and community service events like Relay for Life.
The evening concluded with a military ball for the cadets.