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U.S. Air Force Awards Highest Honor to Riverdale High JROTC

From right, Riverdale High cadets Hannah Richard, Darren Zeang, and Jeremy Arias practice for a graduation ceremony.

How did Lt. Col. Jerry Brumfield feel when his Riverdale High JROTC unit won the Air Force’s highest level of distinction?

“Relieved,” said Lt. Col. Brumfield.

That happens when standards are as high as they are for the RHS cadets. Riverdale High is one of 125 units nationwide to receive the 2017-18 Air Force JROTC Distinguished Unit with Merit Award. It’s the highest honor awarded to high school units. Lt. Col. Brumfield said they were not bashful in setting the award as their goal for the school year.

“I have a lot of pride in the cadets,” said Lt. Col. Brumfield. “They’re just great young people and they take it very seriously. They work very hard.”

The award recognizes Air Force JROTC units that have performed well above and beyond normal expectations, and have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their school and community. Along with the consistency and experience of his staff, Lt. Col. Brumfield credits his students for the unit’s success. Jesse Yates is one of those students.  He recently graduated with the class of 2018. Yates is heading to LSU where he will major in biology. As he worked his way up the RHS unit to core commander, he grew as a person.

“It really helped me come out of my shell,” said Yates. “It just really helps you a lot. It teaches you how to be a leader.”

And that kind of transformation is common in the Riverdale High unit. Lt. Col. Brumfield preaches the core values of the Air Force every single day: integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

“I want them to leave here living those core values,” said Lt. Col. Brumfield. “All those skills are going to serve them well in whatever they’re doing next.”

Air Force JROTC is located in close to 900 high schools across the United States and at selected schools in Europe, the Pacific, and Puerto Rico. Air Force JROTC enrollment includes more than 120,000 cadets who do over 1.6 million hours of community service each year. The objectives of the Air Force JROTC program are to educate and train high school students in citizenship and life skills; promote community service; instill responsibility, character, and self-discipline through character education; and to provide instruction in air and space fundamentals.