News: Black Jack Soldiers supplement citizenship instruction with some show and tell
Story by Spc. Justin A. Naylor
FORT HOOD, Texas— Learning about the Army values doesn't require you to be in the Army. You don't even have to be old enough to drive.
Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets at Harker Heights High School in Harker Heights, Texas, had the chance to spend a little quality time with recently redeployed Soldiers from the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, May 14; learning about Army life and getting a little hands-on instruction with equipment the Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans used last year when they were deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq.
The Soldiers were there to participate in the HHHS JROTC organization day, which commemorated the program's 10th anniversary.
Medics and mechanics from the battalion set up displays that showed off gear and equipment they used during recent and past deployments around the world. A typical STB is comprised of dozens of different specialized, technical jobs to enable a BCT to fulfill its mission. "The 2nd STB represents MPs, chemical, signal, military intelligence, cooks, fuelers, mechanics…we have over 60 different enlisted military occupation specialties in our battalion," said Maj. Kimberly Bennett, the 2nd STB operations officer.
"It's really good to see this stuff for the people here who've never seen it before," said Carlito Johnson-Dixon, a 9th grade student and first year JROTC cadet. Dixon is part of a large group of the cadets who've spent most, if not all, of their lives around gear life this; nearly 60 percent of HHHS cadets have family in the military.
Seeing the equipment and talking to Soldiers really opens the eyes of new cadets to the possibility of actually joining the military after high school, explained one of the programs premiere cadets, Kwashia Campbell, a high school junior and third year cadet.
Although this isn't the first group of Soldiers Campbell has seen come to the school during her time as a cadet, she says she never gets tired of having them there.
They know the value of the Soldiers and what they're doing for our nation," said Lt. Col. (ret.) Garry McNiesh, a Sacramento, Calif., native and an instructor with JROTC program.
McNiesh usually only has Soldiers out once or twice a year to set up displays and talk to the kids, and he said he has never had a problem getting them to come.
"All I have to do is make a phone call and they are here to support us," he said. "They are always more than happy to come out here and talk to the kids."
In the past, McNiesh has had units bring helicopters, medical ambulance, recovery vehicles and an assortment of different equipment.
Although McNiesh enjoys giving his students a chance to interact with service members, he did say that the JROTC program isn't about trying to get kids to join the military. According to Title 10, Section 2031 of the United States Code, the purpose of JROTC is "to instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.
"The mission of JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens, not to recruit them into the military," said McNeish. However, his program usually sees about 40 percent of its graduating cadets joining the military or continuing their education in a college-level ROTC program.
For the 2nd STB Soldiers, the event offered a unique chance to continue to enhance their relationship with the community. The 2nd STB sponsors HHHS as part of Fort Hood's "Adopt a School" program, in which units develop and sustain a recurring relationship with community schools in order to help the schools nurture the children's intellectual, physical, emotional and social growth while also ensuring Soldiers have a formal outlet to be involved in the local community.
"I think it's really important that the military and the community around have a good relationship," said 2nd Lt. Cary Cohan, a Cleveland native and a platoon leader with 2nd STB. "The community supports the military and the military supports the community."
By coming out here, both the military and local community can see what one another does and get to know each other a little better, he explained.
Cohan has a soft spot for programs like these; he was once a cadet himself.
Cohan joked that even as a cadet he didn't really start to learn a lot about the military until he had Soldiers come out and work with him, much like he and his troops are doing with HHHS.
In addition to participating in this organization day, each of the battalions within the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade sponsor different local schools, and they typically participate in field days, academic events, and even lend Soldiers to act as mentors and tutors.
With approximately 60,000 Soldiers from Fort Hood living, shopping and spending time in the Harker Heights, Killeen, Copperas Cove area, the population density ensures Soldiers will likely remain a visible part of the surrounding area.
This work, Black Jack Soldiers supplement citizenship instruction with some show and tell, by SSG Justin A. Naylor, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.