PONCHATOULA, LA, UNITED STATES
PONCHATOULA, La. – Cpl. Nicole M. Ostrander walked between ranks of a formation, inspecting young cadets in Marine uniforms and searching for the slightest discrepancy. Although the cadets are not actual service members, the inspection was designed to give them a taste of military life.
Ostrander, a defense clerk from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Marine Forces Reserve, was one of 14 MarForRes Marines who volunteered their weekend to judge the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps meet here Oct. 8. The Marines were there to demonstrate an authentic military inspection.
“I really enjoy judging the high-schoolers because a lot of them want to be in the military after high school,” Ostrander said.
Cadets participating in the 16th annual event were tested physically in areas such as pull ups, crunches, and 300-yard dash. Their mental composure was judged in color guard drill and uniform inspection, as well as a platoon drill and inspection.
“We could not host the meet without the MarForRes Marines volunteering their Saturday and coming out here to judge,” said retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ira Brown, the senior Marine instructor for Ponchatoula High School Marine Corps JROTC. “We can’t have cadets judging other cadets, it would not be fair.”
“This is where MarForRes comes in,” he added. “The knowledge they [the Marines] learned helped them judge the event because they knew what to look for.”
At each station, a MarForRes Marine judged the task performed by the cadets.
The inspection stations involved Marines checking the cadets’ uniforms for possible flaws such as loose threads, wrinkles and misplaced medals. Marines put some cadets on the spot by asking questions regarding Marine Corps customs, courtesies, and history. The cadets also marched in a platoon formation or as a three-member color guard unit, with judges looking for flow, continuity, and facing movements.
As some cadets whipped rifles around, other cadets had a chance to get creative in an unarmed exhibition drill where they marched as a platoon to a previously established routine. Brown said that the team that put on the best show to astonish the judges won that event.
“The beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said “and these Marines knew what to look for.”
Support of JROTC programs, like this, represents an aspect of community outreach fulfilled by Marine Forces Reserve. Marines throughout the United States regularly participate in events such as this to help out their local communities.
“I think us Marines being there benefited the kids because they had military members who knew what to look for during inspections and drill to help them prepare themselves for future meets,” said Ostrander, who also judged last year’s meet. “I really enjoy judging the ROTC meets because it gives me a chance to make a positive influence on those younger than me.”
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