Waynesville JROTC cadets visit Fort Leonard Wood for annual JCLC

Brian Hill
Fort Leonard Wood
Waynesville High School Junior ROTC Cadet Roberto Arzabala rappels down the 45-foot Warrior Tower at Training Area 136. A group of 27 cadets visited Fort Leonard Wood June 8 and 9, for their annual JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge. (Photo by Brian Hill)

A group of 27 Waynesville High School Junior ROTC cadets visited Fort Leonard Wood June 8 and 9, to participate in their annual JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge, or JCLC — a two-day summer camp, where they were given the opportunity to partner up into squads to compete while also gaining a better understanding of some of the Soldier training experience here.

According to Charles Williams, senior Army instructor for Waynesville’s JROTC program, the cadets completed the Physical Endurance Course, the Confidence Course and the Team Development Course, and then rappelled down the 45-foot Warrior Tower at Training Area 136.

Cadet Gavin Rutsch, a WHS junior, who plans on joining the Army after high school, called JCLC this year “super fun.”

“Even though it was really hard, tiring work, it was so much fun,” he said. “I went to bed the first night thinking, ‘Man, I can’t wait until tomorrow!’”

Participating in JROTC for her fourth year is WHS senior Gabrielle Russell. She said although she doesn’t plan on joining the military — she wants to become a pediatrician — JROTC is still her favorite class.

“It’s creative and it gets you thinking,” she said. “I joined because I had friends in the program. Even though it’s hard sometimes, it’s a lot of fun.”

Russell said having JCLC on an Army installation as opposed to a military academy geared more for high school students makes everything “a lot more challenging.”

“The obstacle courses were physically and mentally challenging, but it’s worth it because at the end of the day I could say, ‘I did that,’” she said.

Helping with supervision and guidance for the two days were Soldiers from Company A, 787th Military Police Battalion. The battalion is the Waynesville JROTC’s partner-in-education unit — PIE units, as they’re referred to, partner with local schools to foster relationships between service members and students to promote education, develop skills and mentor children.

It was a nostalgic moment for Alpha Company Commander Capt. Jordan Bush. She was a member of her local JROTC unit in her hometown of Sedalia, Missouri, and remembers getting to visit Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas.

“It’s always really cool as a Junior ROTC cadet to get to go to an actual Army post and work with Soldiers,” she said. “It makes it a little bit more real, because a lot of these kids want to enlist or become officers. So, I think it’s cool for them — and it’s fun for us as well.”