Sunday, March 6, 2005

Farrington Junior ROTC members James Serdenia, Salvador Alob, Roldan Isidro, Rene Alob, Michael Ulep and Pe'epe'e Mo'eve've participated Tuesday in rifle drills.

Farrington’s Govs’
Guard has right moves

Precision drilling and tireless
practice keep this Junior ROTC
group in formation

"Be all that you can be" is not just an Army recruiting slogan to the 140 young men and women in the Junior ROTC program at Farrington High School.

It's a belief propelling them toward the fulfillment of dreams, many of which include military careers and serving their country.

The JROTC students have been recently rated as one of the top Army ROTC units in the state. Nicknamed the Governors' Guard Battalion, or Govs' Guard, the students had a chance to show off their skills at the largest drill competition in the state yesterday.

Farrington hosted the King's Guard Drill Meet on campus. The 25 teams competing include high schools from the neighbor islands and one from Alaska.

The Govs' Guard recently earned a near-perfect score in the JROTC Formal Inspection in February, according to Lt. Col. David A. Carlson, Farrington's chief Army instructor.

Out of the highest possible score of 600 points, Farrington scored 586 points in a key inspection given every three years by a U.S. Army team from the 13th Brigade headquarters at Fort Lewis, Wash. The JROTC students are judged on everything from in-ranks inspection to record management and ceremonial drills.

Farrington scored highest of the seven Army units (there are 14 in the state) that underwent inspection, once again earning the prestigious Honor Unit with Distinction rating, Carlson said. They've held the ranking since 1987.

Realizing his dream of flying a jet makes waking up at 4 a.m. to train before school and the rest of the rigorous discipline worth it to Senior Cadet Roldan Isidro. He joined the JROTC to prepare himself for military life.

Isidro, the battalion commander, has "always wanted to fly, but not just anything -- something fast, dangerous and wild!" -- like an Air Force fighter jet, he said.

Isidro also said the impetus to be the best they can be is a result of "the pride ... the happiness that comes when you do a good job." He said his classmates also have "school and community pride," and try to excel "so that everybody around the island knows that Farrington is not a bad school ... that there is hope here."

Isidro said his battalion practiced every day after school the past five weeks for the tournament, and some even drill in small groups with each other at lunch time.

"They want to be prepared and they make the time for it," said Carlson, their teacher. The JROTC building has become a "cadet gathering place; it's like a club down here," he said.

Asked why they practice so much, several young men chimed in: "It gives you muscles," "We do it because we want to," and "It's fun!"

During practice, an occasional smile breaks out, but their concentration is otherwise flawless -- eyes focused forward, shoulders square, chin up, knees stepping high.

Senior Teo Rellesiva is the enthusiastic second-in-command who barks out the drill. He wants to be "the first in the family to be called a Marine ... the first to serve my country."

He recently won the best overall score in physical fitness at an advanced training test at Schofield Barracks in December.

Junior Hazel Gomez plans to join the Air Force.

"I want action in my life," she said dramatically. "If I die, it will be with honor for my country. My next (choice) is to be a rock star," she said with a laugh.

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