The year for the JROTC program at Van Horn High School, was “absolutely remarkable,” says Lt. Col.-Retired Mike Byrd, senior instructor.

Among the accomplishments: Began the school year with 172 cadets, the largest number of cadets in several years; summer camp cadets earned 40 percent of all individual awards, the most earned by any single school from among 35 participating schools; thousands of cadet service hours; unprecedented number of color guard support missions and appearances, etc.

But, Byrd says, the quality of the program at Van Horn cannot be measured simply by the number of things accomplished. It's the willingness, the dedication, the energy , the esprit and 'elan these cadets and cadet leaders bring to the program that ensures the outstanding success of “the Falcon Corps of Cadets.”

Recently two JROTC cadets, from the Van Horn Falcon Battalion received academic scholarship assistance for college from the U.S. Army. Cadet Larissa McCarty and Cadet Leeland Lityma were chosen as 3-Year Advanced Designee (3-AD) Scholarship recipients.

The scholarship package pays tuition and mandatory educational fees, room and board, includes an annual allotment of $1,200 for textbooks and classroom supplies, and a subsistence allowance of $300 per month. The subsistence allowance increases each year as they progress through college and Military Science.

Upon successful completion of military science and baccalaureate degree requirements, scholarship cadets are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard or U.S. Army Reserves.

The Van Horn Army JROTC program is the home of two statewide Outstanding JROTC Cadet Award winners also.

Leeland was the American Legion JROTC Cadet of the Year. The Cadet of the Year is selected from the junior class which permits the winner to serve as a role model and mentor during his/her senior academic year. The winning cadet is chosen on the criteria of scholarship, leadership, and service to unit, school and community and receives a plaque along with a $500 scholarship during the first semester of college.

The  Missouri Society of the Sons of the American Revolution named Cadet Joshua Ramirez as its statewide Outstanding JROTC Cadet.  Nominees are evaluated on leadership, co-curricular activities involvement, evaluation of participation in non-JROTC activities, evaluation of academic background and the completion of a written essay based upon a specific writing topic. This year's prompt was “How has JROTC prepared me to be a better citizen of the United States of America?” The SAR also selects the Outstanding Cadet during the junior year so the winner can serve as a role model and mentor in the senior year. The selected cadet receives a silver medal and a $500 scholarship. Cadet Ramirez has been invited to read his essay during the awards luncheon at the SAR annual statewide convention.

Article and photos by Cadet Nico Tarantola, Cadet Public Information Officer, and LTC-Ret Mike Byrd, Senior Army Instructor, JROTC, Van Horn HS