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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2024

Alaska Air National Guardsman volunteers as JROTC drill judge

By David Bedard 176th Wing Public Affairs

Surrounding the pageantry of high school Junior ROTC drill movements was a small swarm of service members carrying clipboards, furiously scribbling their judge’s observations or any deficiency gigs in performance of the floor routine.

At the beginning of each performance for the Feb. 17 Alaska statewide JROTC drill competition, the cadet drill commanders reported to the head judge, barking out requests to begin in accordance with the drill manual, punctuating every sentence with a crisp, thunderous sir, ma’am, or sergeant.

Having secured permission to start, the drill teams then embarked on a choreographed set of drill movements rehearsed over the course of months spent practicing after school.

Among the judges dressed smartly in her Air Force blue uniform was Alaska Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Cynthia Campbell, 176th Medical Group Clinical Services.

Campbell attended Army JROTC at Southern High School in Louisville, Kentucky, where she gained a penchant for perfecting the art of military drill, motivating her to come full circle and return to the drill floor as a judge.

“I saw the volunteer advertisement,” Campbell said. “I was in the state competition for drill when I was in high school 20 years ago this year. My team won state when I was the commander. It was a fun experience.”

As a judge, Campbell had to pore over and memorize pertinent parts of the Army drill manual covering events like color guard, regulation drill with and without arms, as well as the decidedly non-regulation exhibition drill with and without arms.

Campbell said she recognized pre-performance jitters in the cadets.

“The nerves are all the same,” she said. “We saw cadets shaking, catching themselves messing up because they have to remember all of the movements.”

Campbell said she recognized a sense of camaraderie in the cadets forged through meticulously working toward the goal of hoisting top honors at the drill event.

“I love the uniformity of it and the family of it,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons why I decided to join the military after high school.”

West Anchorage High School JROTC bested 13 other schools to take home the state championship in addition to the coastal championship, winning color guard, regulation with arms, individual exhibition and dual-cadet exhibition. North Pole High School JROTC won first year color guard, East Anchorage High School JROTC won regulation unarmed, Eagle River High School JROTC won first year regulation unarmed, Bartlett High School JROTC won exhibition without arms, and Service High School JROTC won exhibition with arms.

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