Sixteen Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Manning High School attended a seven-day Cadet Leadership Course at The Citadel in Charleston in June.
Instead of spending the start of their summer vacation sleeping in, they joined more than 370 cadets from more than 25 AFJROTC units from South and North Carolina, Florida and Georgia in the annual challenge, which Manning High School cadets have attended for more than 10 years.
U.S. Air Force Ret. Lt. Col. Franklin D. Ladson, the senior aerospace science and AFJROTC instructor at Manning High School, said the camp is one of the largest AFJROTC summer leadership courses in the United States.
“These cadets trained for months leading up to their challenging trip,” Ladson said in a release. “CLC is modeled after active-duty basic training courses and consists of myriad challenges throughout the 17-hour days.”
Ladson said cadets were awakened at 5:15 a.m. daily by the sounds of the traditional military reveille.
“Within minutes, cadets are formed up in several cadre flights and 10 basic cadet flights consisting of 25 to 30 cadets each, and they begin a rigorous hour of physical activity,” said Ladson.
The remainder of these days contain uniform and room inspections; learning how to fly multi-copter drones; tackling a marine obstacle course; finding their bearings on an orienteering course in a local park; leading their flights on a 30-command drill sequence evaluation; learning how to safely operate and fire air-powered pellet rifles at The Citadel indoor shooting range; and solving team leadership course problems.
After supper, cadets were allowed to play competitive sports for 90 minutes and then gathered to go over results of all the day’s activities.
“They would then return to their rooms to prepare for the next day,” said Ladson. “Each night between 10:30 and 11 p.m., ‘Taps’ was played to signify the official end of the day.”
More than 90 of the 370 cadets gathered at the camp had attended previously, and they served as part of the cadet leadership chain of command, Ladson noted.
“They provided the direct supervision of the first-year cadets, as well as judged and scored all of the daily competitions,” he said.
The leadership cadets – known as “cadre” – included Manning High School student Larsen Fralix, who was selected to be the cadet wing commander.
“She did an awesome job,” said Ladson.
Cadets Robin Lang and Faith White were selected as flight commanders in charge of up to 30 cadets, and Cadet Kevin Williams was selected to be part of the standardization and evaluation flight, which conducted all the inspections and evaluations.
“All three of these cadets did outstanding jobs,” said Ladson.
Adult JROTC instructors from each of the 25 schools represented supervised the cadets and activities, including Ladson. He was joined by Ret. Master Sgt. Stevie Ward. Ladson served as deputy director for the Cadet Leadership Course, while Ward served as director of the obstacle course.
“We were two of 45 instructors,” said Ladson.
He noted that first-year cadets attending the course included Tykiuana Oliver, Amard Graham, Dominique Bell, George Barron, Mitchell Betrand, Shavonnie Stukes, Lacey Fralix, Majel Morris, Antonio Pearson, Talaysia Hill, Savannah Roberts and Ashley Clark.
During the final morning of the seven-day camp, several cadets were recognized for “outstanding performances” at a graduation parade, Ladson said.
Ashley Clark was recognized as being in the Top 10 percent in drill evaluation, the Top 10 percent in academics, as a member of the honor flight – the top flight in the camp – and she was selected as the No. 1 Cadet in Alpha Squadron, which consisted of five flights totaling 150 first-year cadets. Flight Commander Faith White joined fellow E Flight members Dominique Bell and Talaysia Hill in earning a Top Sports Flight Award.
“The Cadet Leadership Course is an exceptionally well-run course with excellent leadership opportunities for all cadets,” he said. “At the end of the camp, cadets have accomplished many things and have pushed themselves to accomplish feats they never thought possible. They also have a new sense of confidence, are ready to take on new challenges and have made friends that they will stay in touch with via social media long after the course is complete.”
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