High school cadets honor military in community salute
By Bill Tamburrino
Ramona High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets honored the country’s veterans in a Salute to the Military at the school Saturday evening.
RHS NJROTC’s Salute Honoring Our Country’s Fallen Heroes has more of a Memorial Day aura but it is one of the best educational experiences in town every year. It educates and inspires the cadets involved, the parents, veterans and spectators in a historic and patriotic way.
“We are a small town and, like every small town in America, we have more than our share of heroes,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Ernst, retired, NJROTC instructor. “Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We try to teach our cadets and the community that our freedoms aren’t free. A very high price has been paid by many.”
Ernst, retired Navy CPO and NJROTC instructor Bob Richardson, and their unit involve members of the community who have served our nation in times of need.
This year Marine Corps veteran and Ramona resident Ken Dower, one of the Korean War’s Chosen Few, participated. Dower assisted Cadet Executive Officer Alexis Baggett and Cadet Commaning Officer Alec Richardson in a ceremonious placing of a wreath at a replica of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Dower also read “It’s the Veteran” later in the salute.
The salute included recognizing those in attendance who are veterans, reading the names of Ramona’s fallen heroes and honoring them with a playing of “Taps,” celebrating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War with a reading of the Gettysburg Address, simulating the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, honoring America’s Medal of Honor recipients, honoring those listed on the Vietnam Wall, reading America’s Code of Honor and POWs. The salute reached a climax with a patriotic and emotional singing of “Proud to Be An American” highlighted by an unveiling of a 30-foot by 20-foot U.S. flag and ended with a cake cutting ceremony and social.
Ramona’s Brent Strahm CPO, USN retired, presented the NJROTC unit with a flag that was flown with him on a combat mission in Iraq. Strahm served 31 years in active duty and reserve duty and volunteered to go to Iraq.
Tony Dunkailo, CPO, USN retired, also contributed by reading the Code of Conduct. Dunkailo was an instructor at SERE (Survive, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) while on active duty.
This year the salute was driven indoors by the weather and all attending agree it was a success and RHS NJROTC deserved a salute for its salute.
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