Oak Harbor cadets pass NJROTC review

With more stringent academic standards in public schools, electives have become a rarity. But not for the dedicated high school cadets in the Oak Harbor Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

The students put on their game faces last Thursday night in the high school gymnasium for the Pass-in-Review, marching in unison, twirling rifles and inspiring awe in the grandstands packed with proud parents and friends, school board members and district administration, and Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen.

Retired Rear Adm. George W. Lotzenhiser was the guest of honor. The longtime NJROTC benefactor is a local favorite, said Jake Ford, Wildcat Company Commanding Officer, and always “full of stories and corny jokes.”

Retired Capt. Daniel Wenceslao, reviewing officer, said the presence of Superintendent Rick Schulte and OHHS Principal Dwight Lundstrom at the event sent a positive message.

“I know the support you provide does not come cheap,” Wenceslao said.

The NJROTC program, which does not require any future affiliation with the military, demands sacrifices on the part of students and their parents, the retired captain said.

“You and your cadets are the true VIPs,” Wenceslao said.

The high school is privileged to have two amazing instructors in Cmdr. Mike Black and Chief Bill Thiel, who wear Navy uniforms but work for the school district.

“It’s a labor of love for them,” the reviewing officer said. “They’re not recruiters. I see them as mentors creating opportunities for the kids.”

Wenceslao, the Area 13 Manager for NJROTC, conducted a personal inspection with the cadets earlier in the day. He said the bright young people performed extraordinarily well. The Pass-in-Review came early for Oak Harbor, he added. Since not all company staffs in the region could go through the ceremony in the spring, the Wildcat Company opted to go early.

“It’s no easy chore to march on this floor,” he said. “They did superb.”

Daniel Nesser was named Cadet of the Month and 36 students were awarded the Exemplary Personal Appearance Award for their performance during the inspection.

Pass-in-Review is a formal military ceremony which honors the cadets’ hard work and commitment. It also ties together the future of the Navy with its long-held Naval traditions and customs. The event provides NJROTC students an opportunity to impress family and friends with what they have accomplished.

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