A group of U.S.-based Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets visited Allied Joint Force Command Naples, March 13, 2018. (Photo by French Navy Chief Petty Officer Sèbastien Laurent)
Story by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Patton
NAPLES, Italy – A group of U.S.-based Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets visited Allied Joint Force Command Naples, March 13, 2018.
A total of 20 students and faculty from Willard High School in Missouri took a tour of the base, where they received insight into NATO and the role the southern Italian headquarters plays. The cadets also took time to visit the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub.
"It’s really reassuring to have all these countries together, unified, with all of these sad things going on in the world,” said Willard freshman Brianna Jeffries, who has aspirations of joining either the Army or the Marines.
Jeffries isn’t the only Willard High School NJROTC cadet with an eye to future military service.
Whether its sophomore Jack Miller hoping to follow a path of Naval aviation, junior Alex Wittmaier discussing his interest in Naval engineering or senior Tory Butler’s recent awarding of an Air Force ROTC scholarship, the students appreciated the chance to take in the atmosphere of an international military environment.
"All these different uniforms, just seeing them in person was really cool,” Wittmaier said.
The NJROTC program was established in 1964, and it’s conducted at accredited secondary schools throughout the U.S. Participants in the program are taught by instructors who are retired Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel.
According to Willard High School’s NJROTC website, the program teaches students discipline, respect, self-confidence, honor, courage and commitment.
At Willard High School, cadets learn about military life, to include health and physical fitness. Students compete for promotions as well as preform the variety of jobs that military personnel do in the American forces. Cadets have the opportunity to utilize skills gained in the civilian or military sector after graduation.
During their visit to Italy, the cadets also plan to visit the nearby U.S. Navy base, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Butler, whose ultimate dream is to fly planes in the military, said she didn’t know what to expect before visiting a NATO headquarters.
"It’s really impressive to see the different cultures and countries and how they work together, and how important it is to work together,” Butler said.