Thursday, April 22, 2010
Over 175 cadets, parents, and distinguished guests attended the 15th annual event.
The ball traditionally includes a change of command ceremony, with the retiring of the outgoing commanding officer and executive officers and installation of new officers and staff for next school year. This year the unit bid farewell to Retiring Commanding Officer Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Sahil Patel and Retiring Executive Officer Cadet Lt. Collin Blake and installed Rising Commanding Officer Cadet Chief Petty Officer Darrell Queen and Rising Executive Officer Cadet Ensign Taylor McDermott.
Cmdr. Dennis Quick, Executive Officer, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, served as the featured speaker and addressed ‘‘the potential future of the Navy.” He referenced events ‘‘that birthed the spirit of the United States Navy.” Quick reminded the audience that though George Washington was not in the Navy, ‘‘he could appreciate Naval power as he watched British Man of War sailing ships – part of the most powerful fleet the world had known to that point – deliver arms and men to America’s shores to confront his fledgling Continental Army.” Not one to be intimidated, Washington reached out to colonists who knew the sea and shared his vision. ‘‘What resulted was a bold, courageous plan that helped disrupt England’s execution of the war against the colonies and helped give birth to a new Navy that would soon surpass even Great Britain in power.”
Most of all, Quick reminded the cadets of the three core values of the Navy – honor, courage and commitment, the ‘‘bedrock principles” that carry on today.
‘‘Today’s Navy is a culture that requires each member to conduct himself or herself in the highest ethical manner. Our commitment to be honest and truthful in our dealings with our peers, subordinates and superiors and with those outside the Navy often stand in hard contrast of a world where black and white is increasingly considered gray,” said Quick.
‘‘We abide by an uncompromising code of integrity and take responsibility for our actions and keeping our word. Each of us in the Navy uniform stands ready to fulfill or exceed our legal and ethical responsibilities in our public and personal lives 24⁄7⁄365,” said Quick.
Quick referenced the recent catastrophic earthquake that toppled Haiti, and the military response that followed. The Navy’s response to Haiti’s pleas for help ‘‘clearly demonstrated the need for an agile and adaptive Naval force, now and in the future,” said Quick.
‘‘I’m sure all of you remember the images of U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines delivering food and medicine, and the USS Comfort supplying much-needed medical care to desperate earthquake victims,” said Quick. ‘‘The ability of our Navy to respond to this unforeseen calamity and save countless thousands of lives was a perfect example of the imaginative and innovative approaches required for success,” said Quick.
‘‘I am proud to part of a service that shows respect toward all people without regard to race, religion or gender. For in our U.S. Navy, the day-to-day duty of every Navy man and woman is to work together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves,” said Quick.
Fred Duckworth, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, serves as Senior Naval Science Instructor for the group. ‘‘The ball is an opportunity for the cadets to commemorate their year in the unit and to recognize the history of the unit,” said Duckworth. ‘‘The cadets are a diverse group that share many of the same aspirations as their peers. Those that get the most benefit of the program see it as a way to help them develop self-discipline, confidence, and focus on their life goals.”
Duckworth is proud that the program is so robust at the high school, and says he can see the benefits to the students that participate. ‘‘We try to encourage all our cadets to challenge themselves, to not be satisfied with mediocrity or the easy way out, to not close doors to future opportunity through poor, short-sighted decisions. Most of our senior cadets have set clear goals for themselves by their senior year. We encourage all of them to go to college and help them with that process. Many go on to one of the service academies or to college with ROTC scholarships.”
The yearly event is supported by the NJROTC Booster Club and its president, Lisa Heitmeyer. The event must be planned around many activities, including NJROTC drill meets, physical training team meets, and rifle team meets. The group works fundraising events all year to supplement the event, and cadets have responsibilities, while others just bring a date and enjoy the evening.
‘‘They work together on setting up and executing the program,” said Heitmeyer, making sure speeches are written and protocol is followed. ‘‘Then there is dancing, which we know is the main event,” said Heitmeyer.
The NJROTC program was established by Public Law in 1964 and is conducted at accredited secondary schools throughout the nation, by instructors who are retired Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel. The NJROTC curriculum emphasizes citizenship and leadership development, as well as our maritime heritage, the significance of sea power, and naval topics such as the fundamentals of naval operations, seamanship, navigation and meteorology. Classroom instruction is augmented throughout the year by community service activities, drill competition, field meets, flights, visits to naval activities, marksmanship training, and other military training. Uniforms, textbooks, training aids, travel allowance, and a substantial portion of instructors' salaries are provided by the Navy.