MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Despite the challenges of COVID, the Berkeley County ROTC program is remaining involved in the community.
With a presence at four high schools, the program teaches young men and women about leadership, discipline, and community service, devoting countless hours to volunteer work at the Veterans Hospital, food banks and serving as color guards at local events. And they are learning from a special military mentor – Lt. Colonel Jim Guinan was fortunate to have survived the 9-11 attack at the Pentagon nearly two decades ago.
“There are a lot of young people in Berkeley County that are looking for a place to belong, says Guinan. And ROTC is a place where they can serve their school, their community, represent their families; some are seeking military careers beyond high school. But many of them just want to be a part of something.”
Aden Drake attends Spring Mills High School. He works part-time at Jordyn’s Delly in Falling Waters to earn spending money and still makes a solid commitment to ROTC as a standout cadet. Why?
“I want to get to college and the military and ROTC can help me get to where I want to go,” says Drake.
And Drake is inspired by the examples of leadership and character set by Col. Guinan, a true American hero for his valor when the U.S. was under siege that fateful September 11.
“I just believe I was given a gift that day,” says Guinan. “I was one of those fortunate enough to walk out of the building. Many did not. And it’s still an emotional thing with me. I was blessed with some additional time here and I felt like investing my life in young people would be a good thing to do.”
And one of the things these cadets are most looking forward to is working this summer with the 167th Airlift wing during their training program at Shepherd University.
The Berkeley County Junior ROTC program proudly counts 230 cadets in its class this year.