MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii - Sixty high school students stepped out of the classroom to learn a lesson from Marines during a weeklong visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in June 2015.
The students were part of the Cadet Leadership Course, a summer program for high school students in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. The majority of participants were from Oahu high schools with an Air Force-affiliated JROTC. Three visiting students came from Federal Way High School in Federal Way, Wash. and were chaperoned by an instructor formerly based in Hawaii.
High school students attempt to complete a team-building mission at the Leadership Reaction Course at Boondocker Training Area aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 9, 2015. A total of 60 students in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps visited as part of a weeklong Cadet Leadership Course. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew F. Orr)
“Although we're an Air Force-affiliated group, we really appreciate the great hospitality the Marines have provided,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Sykes, the senior aerospace science instructor at Kaiser High School. “They roll out the red carpet and provide our students with really cool training opportunities.”
Students had a hands-on look at Marine Corps operations for the six-day visit. The group stayed in barracks used by visiting foreign military units and ate alongside Marines at Anderson Hall Dining Facility. While on base, the cadets completed routine morning physical training and interacted with several base units.
Cadets learned about the many career paths in the Marine Corps and developed their leadership skills. Waterfront Operations taught the group about Mokapu Peninsula and its security protocol. The cadets saw aircraft in action with personnel from Marine Aircraft Group 24. The group also toured and practiced with training simulators on base.
The students also had the opportunity to try out physical tasks Marines take on during training. They handled physical obstacles while building problem-solving skills in the Leadership Reaction Course at Boondocker Training Area.
“(The LRC) is a good opportunity to challenge the cadets mentally and physically,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ted Pierson, the senior aerospace science instructor at Kailua High School and who assisted in coordinating the events for the Cadet Leadership Course. “They met (the day before) and had to come together as a team. With the nine schools we have participating, one person from each school was on each team for the course.”
The group tested their strength running the base's obstacle course and practiced principles of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program with members of Headquarters Battalion. With a final task of taking to the skies with flight instructors out of Honolulu International Airport today, the group is scheduled to graduate Saturday.
“They thrive with hands-on activities,” Sykes said. “(The cadet's) reaction (to these activities) is great versus only having lectures.”
The course runs every two years. Due to high demand, students are only allowed to participate in the course once in their high school career.
T.J. Tigley, a 15-year-old student from Kaiser High School, said he's thankful for the opportunity to see Marine Corps operations up close.
“I think this will have the biggest impact on our skills and leadership,” Tigley said.
While they were visiting, the students took the time to help the base community by assisting members of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment with the cleanup of the Mokapu Central Drainage Channel. On the first day of the course, the students rolled up their sleeves to collect and clear debris. The community service project was just as significant to complete as the rest of the activities during the week for Hanamei Shao, a 15-year-old Kaiser High School student.
“An important part of leadership is serving the community,” she said. “Getting this experience makes it even more meaningful for us to be here.”
Shao, aspiring to be an Air Force pediatrician, said JROTC is great to join.
“You meet cool people and have a lot of fun,” she said. “This has helped us grow and accept more responsibilities.”
For other students looking to the join the Marine Corps, the course offered a glimpse at a future military occupational specialty. Brandt Kohrer, a 17-year-old student from Kapolei High School, said he plans to join the Corps after he finishes college. Kohrer said he would be the first Marine in his family and hopes to be an infantry officer. Like several students in the course, Kohrer said he was amazed at the Marines' dedication and attention to detail.
“Halfway through my JROTC program, as I was looking at the Marine Corps career programs, I thought, ‘This is my kind of lifestyle,'” Kohrer said. “The Marines treat everything importantly. There's orderliness, pride in being on time and great camaraderie."
By Christine Cabalo, U.S. Marine Corps
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