Cadets from Enterprise, Daleville and Carroll high schools were present at Cutts Restaurant Wednesday morning for a Military Affairs Breakfast hosted by the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce.
EHS cadets Evan Crawford and Eleanor Thompson, Daleville cadets Jamie Peters and Joseph Gordon, and Carroll cadets Kesha McCray and Jayden Davies were all honored for their hard work and excellence in their respective JROTC programs during the breakfast. Military Affairs Chairman Bill Baker introduced each of the schools, and Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper was on hand to offer remarks prior to the awards ceremony.
“It’s always a joy to come before you, especially when we have our youngsters here,” Cooper said. “This is a marvelous day, a day where we honor these youngsters, and as I look about, I see people who have retired or are still active, and many of them came through the ROTC program. I want to say that in the Wiregrass, we have excellence, so young men and young women, consider yourselves on a journey to the highest. Do what you need to do, study hard, obey, and stay straight. Good luck and God bless.”
Enterprise High School was the first to be honored in the ceremony. EHS JROTC instructor Col. Dennis Griffin introduced both his cadets and spoke of their achievements and future goals.
“Cadet Lt. Col. Evan Crawford is our Cadet Battalion Commander, and after high school he’s got a four year ROTC scholarship, so he intends to pursue a career in the military,” Griffin said. “He’s going to go to Charleston Southern University and also be a part of the cross country program there. Evan’s done a fabulous job as our cadet battalion commander and I’m proud of him. He’s certainly taught me how to be an ROTC instructor at Enterprise High School.
“Cadet Cpt. Ele Thompson, also an awesome student at Enterprise High School, is also a PFC in the Alabama Army National Guard. She completed Basic Training last summer; she will depart high school and go to AIT, and we look forward to seeing what she has coming in her future. She plans to attend Marion Military Institute, where she has an ROTC scholarship, and she looks forward to becoming a second lieutenant as well.”
Griffin added that the excellence of the honored cadets and the JROTC program as a whole has been evident in recent competitions and an accreditation inspection.
“As a testament to both of these students and the program at Enterprise High School, we recently completed our JROTC program for accreditation this past week, as did Carroll and Daleville,” Griffin said. “These students have earned the Honor Unit of Distinction and they’ve carried the tradition and legacy on.”
Col. Teresa Townsend of Daleville was next to appear in the awards ceremony, introducing Cadet LTC Jamie Peters and Cadet MAJ Joseph Gordon. Carroll High School cadets MSG Kesha McCray and 1SG Jayden Davies were introduced by Advisory Committee President James Andrews.
After the awards presentation, guest speaker Philip Axtell of Enterprise East Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union took the podium to speak about various styles of leadership and lessons that can be learned from great -- and in some cases, not so great -- leaders. Axtell said his “ah ha” moment in leadership came when listening to a talk given by Troy University Leadership Development Professor John Kline years ago.
“I’ve spent months, hours, even years of my life studying leadership and trying to figure out what kind of leader I want to be,” Axtell said. “When I was in the Lions Club, I had the opportunity to go and hear John Kline, a professor at Troy University. This guy has devoted his life to studying leadership, has spoken to military groups, CEOs all over the world, heads of state all over the world, got pictures with all these presidents and everything. He had a phone call one time to be interviewed by Forbes Magazine I think, and the lady wanted to fly down and interview him on his philosophy on leadership. He said, ‘Ma’am, I don’t think you want to fly down to Troy, Alabama to hear me tell you eight words.’ You young people, I want you to take this with you today. Those eight words are ‘hard work, integrity always, serve others, and glorify God.’”
Axtell closed his presentation by encouraging cadets to take such lessons to heart and forge their own paths in the future.
“What I’ll say to you young folks, it’s time for you to set that path for yourselves,” Axtell said. “Most of us in this room don’t know what your path’s going to be, but I know if you incorporate that into your life, your path is going to be lit, you’ll have an extraordinary life, and you’re going to be a beacon of light to a world full of darkness. Congratulations.”