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The students in blue are part of a family

As students are walking the halls of Riverview, they may notice the students with metals and ribbons draped across their blue uniforms. Those students in blue are the cadets that walk the halls with pride in each step because of their connection with the JROTC.

JROTC is a program for students who want to learn about responsibility and teamwork. Most importantly, it guides students to being well-rounded individuals. Many see the uniforms and think that it is uncool, but you will never see a cadet alone because the JROTC is not just a program, but a family that works together to encourage each other.

Many students and even teachers may think they understand why there is a program, but they do not realize the full extent of what the program has to offer. It allows student to gain lifelong friends that come from all backgrounds and all grade levels.

“We’re the home away from home with teamwork helping us overcome our obstacles,” Battalion Commander Dylan Farris said.

The classes are taught primarily by the leading cadet although it is guided by the army instructors, Maj. Joe Williams and 1st Sgt. Fernando Garcia. After many years working at Riverview, Sgt. Maj. Roger Mitchell retired late last December.

After Williams graduated college and immediately started working for UPS, he said he started to feel bored with the day-to-day life.

“The country was in war in 1999, and I was watching tv. I wanted to do something patriotic. The next day I went to the recruiting office,” he said.

After being asked why he decided to join the army, he said "I wanted to serve my country.”

His job was an M88, also known as a motor transport operator, meaning he would move the supplies to and from base.

“I wanted to do it but was scared,” said Williams, but after two tours he started working at Auburn University as an assistant professor of military science for six years until hearing about the opening at Riverview.

“When I retired, I knew I wanted to do education,” said Williams when asked why he choose to be an instructor. “I want to make it fun and enjoyable and teach lifelong lessons.”

The JROTC program has been a class at Riverview for 51 years, and every year they have alumni come back and reminisce about their time in the program. For some, the program set them on their path, and for others the program even introduced them to their future significant other.

Last year, the JROTC worked hard to increase its numbers and has since seen significant new enrollment this year.

The JROTC isn’t just about structure but about gaining a lifelong friendship.

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