The Army JROTC program at Van Horn High School traces its lineage back to Sept. 1, 1969, when it was established by agreement between the School Board and the United States Army Cadet Command. Throughout those 44 years the cadets of the Van Horn Falcon Battalion have distinguished themselves and represented the school and community through many competitions, service projects, and other community focused endeavors.
The weekend Sept. 27 and 28 witnessed yet another “first” for the Falcon Battalion. Nine members of the Falcon Raiders (the military skills competition team) participated in the Red Bull Raider Classic conducted at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. According to team commander, Cadet Major Marcus Wilkins, “…as far as we can determine, this is the first Raider Team organized, trained and fielded by Van Horn and this out-of-state competition is my team's first time to participate in a head to head competition…”
The Red Bull Raider Classic consisted of seven events, some events having multiple components that the Falcon Raiders had to confront and overcome. The first event at 6 a.m. on Saturday was the individual Physical Fitness Test. Each cadet had to do two minutes of pushups, two minutes of sit ups and run 1-mile for time. The high female cadet score for the Falcons was achieved by Cadet Destiny Marquez who turned in a perfect score of 300 points for her age group. Following closely behind Marquez was Cadet Robert Barber who achieved a 298 for the high male Falcon PT score.
The next event was the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) Team Road March Challenge. All 8 team members in full gear had to finish the course as fast as possible, with all team members finishing within 10 meters of each other. After a 5 minute rest period, the Falcons moved to the 1-Rope Bridge construction site. There they had to erect a safe and effective 1-rope bridge, cross an obstacle, and again accomplish the task of getting all team members across. Every move and every knot was closely monitored, evaluated and critiqued.
Next was the Biathlon Challenge. Each team member had to carry a 10 kilogram (approximately 22 pounds) weighted medicine ball and run a 200 meter course, stopping at the half way point to throw a dart at a target 10 feet away. The Falcon's, while carrying a combat litter with a 175 pound weight, then had to cross a 6 foot wall, move the litter under an obstacle, complete a rope climb of 20 feet, load the litter into and pull a HUMMV a distance of 100 meters, and negotiate a 6 foot inverted wall, plus other challenging components.
While the Falcons did not bring home any trophies at this their initial competition, they did do well showing skill, cunning, innovation and depth of character along with a full measure of “grit”. The Falcon team finished overall in eighth place from among 13 teams.
Van Horn Army JROTC cadets participating in the Raider Challenge Classic were; Cadet Leeland Lityma, Cadet Larissa McCarty, Cadet Zebekiah Lityma, Cadet Destiny Marquez, Cadet Jennifer Dominguez, Cadet Robert Barber, Cadet Jaymie Kennedy, Cadet Dekota Lycan, and Cadet Marcus Wilkins (team commander). Lt. Col. Mike Byrd is the Senior JROTC Instructor at Van Horn.