Annual inspections ensure units ability to forge better citizens
For five months a year, the 8th Marine Corps District Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training project officer, Capt. Robert St. Croix, spends a majority of his time away from the district headquarters and on the road visiting every high school MCJROTC program the district is responsible for.
Between December and April, St. Croix will spend, on average, one out of every two weeks inspecting the 43 MCJROTC units in eight states that are a part of the district.
“The inspection includes a personnel review of every cadet, two drill platoons and an examination of administrative and training records,” said St. Croix.
The purpose for the evolution is to ensure the units compliance with Marine Corps order and that the host schools are keeping up their contract obligations.
The personnel inspections give St. Croix a chance to meet cadets and gain a basic understanding of what the cadets are learning and getting out of their JROTC experience.
“It also gives me the opportunity to see young Americans succeeding. It is also a plus to interact with junior personnel,” the Baltimore, Md., native said. “I don’t have the privilege of having any Marines that work for me, but seeing the young cadets excelling keeps me going.”
The evaluations are graded and the top schools gain the notoriety of being named a Navy Honor School, which allows them more service academy slots for their graduating cadets.
With every audit, the Marine instructors get to ensure they are doing everything they can to have the best cadet corps possible, while giving their cadets an opportunity to see another Marine besides themselves.
“(This) is a good opportunity for our cadets to get inspected by another Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jim Flores, a Marine instructor at Rio Grande in Aluquerque, N.M. “This a confidence builder. They studied and worked hard for this and they know they did well.”
The cadets spent the week before their inspection preparing each other and practicing their drill routines.
“Everyone has a lot of adrenaline the day of the inspection and the weeks prior to the inspection. We practice so much that it really brings the platoons together as we help each other succeed,” said second year cadet Marisol Maldonado of Rio Grande High School.
From the cadets to the instructors and the schools, St. Croix is in a unique position to witness how each unit develops their own niche in the community.
“Some schools want their program to take their best and the brightest and make them better, while others want the program to take their ‘at risk’ students and develop them into contributing citizens,” said St. Croix. “Either way, they each have successful programs.”