William Byrd Air Force JROTC holds annual awards ceremony


Cadet Jasmine Allinson was awarded the Air Force Association Medal at the William Byrd High School Air Force JROTC Dining Out and Awards Ceremony on April 27. This is the highest level award that can be earned without placing oneself at risk of life or great bodily harm. Allinson also received the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction Award, the Sons of American Revolution Award, the Military Officers Association of America Award, the Daedalian Award, and the Outstanding Cadet Ribbon for a third year cadet. She will be serving as Cadet Corps Commander for the next year. The award was presented by her Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson (left) and Colonel Cameron Torrens, currently Commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at Virginia Tech.
The William Byrd Air Force JROTC Awards Ceremony included the Change of Command in which command of the unit was transferred from Cadet Lieutenant Chase Caldwell (right) to Cadet Captain Jasmine Allinson, facilitated by Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson.
These cadets are graduating seniors in the Air Force JROTC program at William Byrd.

The William Byrd High School Air Force JROTC held its 11th annual “Dining Out and Awards Ceremony” on April 27 at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church.

The program included a POW/MIA ceremony in which cadets honored those missing, killed in action, or prisoners of war. A symbolic table was set for the MIAs and POWs. Cadets placed covers (hats) of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps on the table.

Colonel Cameron Torrens was guest speaker. He entered the Air Force in 1988 after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Torrens was trained as a pilot and spent 15 years in C-23, C-130, and KC-10 aircraft. He commanded five different C-130 units in four countries in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently the Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 875 at Virginia Tech, overseeing 250 cadets seeking commissions in the Air Force.

Torrens spoke to the cadets about his experiences in the Air Force and the qualities of those he has served with during his career. He advised cadets that the best way they can serve in the military or in civilian society is to be the “best at your job, whatever it is, and to be a person of integrity who does the right thing.”

Next on the program was the transfer of command of the unit from Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Chase Caldwell to Cadet Captain Jasmine Allinson. Her mother, Jennifer Foley, assisted in the pinning of her ranks.

The awards ceremony followed with Aerospace Science Instructor Master Sergeant Allen Culbreth announcing the awards, which were presented by WBHS Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson and Colonel Torrens.

The Air Commando Award recognizes a cadet for “sustained superior performance in the cadet corps while exemplifying the critical attributes of success that distinguish an elite Air Force Special Operations Command Air Commando” and was presented to Cadet Nathaniel Lee.

The National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 award recognizes a cadet who demonstrates qualities of academic excellence, leadership, military discipline, upright character in speech and habits, dependability, and patriotism– one who exemplifies the ideals upon which our nation was founded. This award was presented to Cadet Andrew Waddell.

The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) Award is presented annually for exceptional leadership to the most outstanding AFJROTC cadet serving in an enlisted rank. The award went to Cadet Jacob Willard.

The Tuskegee Airman International organization recognizes two cadets each year who are in good academic standing, active in the cadet corps, and participate in at least 50 percent of all unit service programs, with a grade of “B” or better in their Aerospace Science class. Cadets Taylor Shonhor and Nathaniel Lee received these ribbons.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans H.L. Hunley Award was presented to Cadet Michael Koloda as the cadet who most demonstrated the core values of honor, courage, and commitment to his unit during the 2016-2017 school year.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Award recognizes an outstanding cadet who demonstrates leadership ability and has a positive attitude toward the AFJROTC and country. The cadet must hold a leadership position in the cadet corps, be active in school and community affairs, and attain a grade of “B” or better in all subjects for the previous semester. The recipient was Cadet Group Commander Chase Caldwell.

John Hartsock and Aaron Lyles presented the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction Award to Cadet Jasmine Allinson. This award goes to a cadet who does the most to encourage Americanism by participating in extracurricular activities or community projects and demonstrates academic excellence, dependability, good character, self-discipline, good citizenship, and patriotism.

Tom Sale represented the Sons of the American Revolution in presenting their award to Cadet Jasmine Allinson for exhibiting a high degree of leadership, military bearing, and all-around excellence in Aerospace Science studies.

The National Sojourners Award goes to a cadet who contributes the most to encourage and demonstrate Americanism within the corps and on campus. Cadet Elijah Oltmanns received the award for consistently displaying this attitude in everything he was tasked to do.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars award was given to Cadets Courtney Cherry and Triniti House. This award is for a positive attitude toward the AFJROTC, outstanding military bearing, and strong positive personal attributes.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) medal was presented by Captain Gary Powers, representing the Southwest Virginia Chapter of the MOAA. This award goes to a third year cadet who is in good academic standing, possesses high moral character, and shows loyalty to the unit, school, and community. The cadet must show exceptional potential for military leadership. The MOAA award went to Cadet Jasmine Allinson.

Cadet Matthew Tench received the Military Order of World Wars award as a cadet who has shown outstanding service to the AFJROTC program and has committed to continue in the aerospace program.

The Reserve Officers Association Award goes to a cadet who possesses characteristics of leadership and ranks in the top 10 percent of their JROTC class. The recipient was Cadet Garrett Walsh.


Mike Fries, Vice Commander of the local AMVETS Post 40, presented the American Veterans Award to Cadets Ashton Neil and Chaise Cantrell. This award honors cadets who show great officer potential .


Gene Full, the AMVETS Post 40 Treasurer, made a special presentation of the AMVETS Scholarship to Cadet Chase Caldwell.


Regent Sharon Menzies and secretary Linda Upchurch from the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented the DAR Award to Cadet Teddy Drewes. This award goes to a fourth year cadet who demonstrates good character, adheres to military discipline, and possesses leadership ability and a patriotic understanding of the importance of JROTC training.

The American Legion sponsors two awards. The American Legion General Military Excellence Award is presented to a cadet who demonstrates outstanding qualities in military leadership, discipline, character, and citizenship and is ranked in the top 25 percent of their JROTC class. This award was presented to Cadet Chance Harrison.

The American Legion Scholastic Award was given to Cadet Lindsey Mercer. This award recognizes a cadet who is ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class and in the top 25 percent of their AFJROTC class. They must actively participate in student activities and demonstrate leadership qualities.

The Order of Daedalians is a fraternity of commissioned pilots from all military services, organized by World War I pilots seeking to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism, love of country, and high ideals of self-sacrifice which place service to the nation above personal safety and position. The award is presented to encourage the development of these traits in cadets and to interest them in a military career. The Daedalian Award was presented to Cadet Jasmine Allinson.

The Air Force Association Medal is the highest level award you can win without putting yourself at risk of life or great bodily harm. The award recognizes a third year cadet who possesses a host of positive attributes, displaying initiative, judgment, self-confidence and a positive attitude toward AFJROTC and school. Cadet Jasmine Allinson received this award.

Each year the instructors choose one cadet from each year group for the Outstanding Cadet Ribbon. Recipients must be of high moral character, demonstrate positive personal attributes and display outstanding military potential, and attain academic and military excellence.  The 1st Year Cadet chosen was Chaise Cantrell; 2nd Year Cadet, Triniti House; 3rd Year Cadet, Jasmine Allinson; and 4th Year Cadet Lindsey Mercer.


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