According to a press release from the United States Air Force, the award recognizes Air Force JROTC units that have performed well above and beyond normal expectations, and that have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their school and community while meeting the Air Force JROTC citizen development mission for America.
The objectives of the Air Force JROTC program are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship and life skills; promote community services; instill responsibility, character and self-discipline through character education, and to provide instruction in air and space fundamentals. Enrollment is open to high school students who are in the 9th to 12th grades.
Corcoran High’s JROTC program is led by both Rudy Cardona, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and Carlos Guevara, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant.
According to Cardona, students in the program are kept extremely busy throughout the school year. The program’s curriculum is focused on Aerospace-related activities while preparing cadets to be college and career-ready, he said. There is a balance between content and ensuring cadets are able to communicate effectively through reading, writing, math applications, and public speaking.
“The four areas cadets are graded on are academics, physical fitness, uniform wear, and drill. The academic areas covered through the four-year program are The Science of Flight, Aerospace History, Space Exploration, and Global Studies,” Cardona added. “There can be much travel for a cadet as the curriculum uses field trips as an extension of the classroom. Cadets travel for competitions with the other 12 units in the valley, go to airshows, museums, universities, military installations, and participate in a valley-wide cadet ball”.
The mission of AFJROTC, Cardona noted is to develop citizens of character, dedicated to serving their community and nation. Therefore, cadets participate in community service averaging over 2,000 hours of annual service to Corcoran and the surrounding areas. Service projects have included things such as campus clean up, hosting the annual Salute to Veterans Banquet, posting Memorial Day flags at the cemetery, placing and taking down Christmas Tree Park decorations, and providing many Color Guard events throughout the valley.
New this year is the creation of a JROTC program at the junior high level.
“The cadets this year were instrumental in reaching out to John Muir Middle School to help bolster support for their California Cadet Corps program in its first year at the site. Activities led by high school cadets for middle school cadets draws interest in the program, propels middle schoolers to self-identify the need for higher standards, and hones a high school cadet’s leadership skills...a true win-win situation,” Cardona commented.
The success of the program is due to the hard work and dedication of its students, noted Cardona.
“The two cadet squadron commanders this year have been Kaylee Sepulveda and Kevin Alvarez. Both of these seniors have risen to the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel for their selfless devotion to others, continuous mentoring of other cadets, seizing the moment to try something new, and maintaining grade point averages above a 4.0, which sets the example for others. The unit, by-design, is ran by cadet leadership. The academics are taught by instructors, but the cadet operations are led by upperclassmen,” Cardona said. “Because the unit believes in the “leaders build leaders” mantra, cadets are taught by other cadets in areas of marching, customs, courtesies, uniform wear, and lead physical training. All cadets are expected to put their time in holding leadership positions such as class leaders, physical training leaders, or functional areas such as logistics, public affairs, recruiting, and finance. This year’s award can be attributed to all cadets doing their part in making the unit better, the community brighter, and keeping their grades up. Cadets operate at a constant high-speed pace and are always looking for new projects. The key in this year’s success has been in holding true to the value that ‘we are a family’. Cadets support each other, and parents see the difference in their children after only a short time in the program”.
And speaking of parents, Cardona says he is thankful for the many parents who have stepped in to chaperone at their events and hope they will be an example to others who wish to participate.
Cardona has been at Corcoran High School for four years. He is the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI). Prior to CHS, he served over 24 years on active duty and in the Air National Guard. He is a career Logistics Officer specializing in aircraft maintenance and munitions operations, and acquisitions. He is an Air Force certified mishap investigator and has served under the Inspector General. He has commanded three squadrons with responsibilities in overseeing F-15E, F-16, A-10, C-130, and HH-60 aircraft management. He represented the US as an exchange officer to the Republic of Venezuela and deployed to Afghanistan to command an expeditionary squadron.
The other advisor, Carlos Guevara has been at Corcoran High School for eight years. Guevara is the Aerospace Science Instructor (ASI). He served 26 years on active duty in Security Forces, and managed both the wing operation security (OPSEC) and tactical deception (TD) programs. He deployed to Iraq (Camp Victory) and provided force protection expertise and direct coordination with the Pentagon. He also served as a critical member of the wing Threat Working Group, significantly improving the wing’s ability to counter local threats.
Air Force JROTC is located in close to 900 high schools across the United States and at selected schools in Europe, in the Pacific and in Puerto Rico. Air Force JROTC enrollment includes more than 120,000 cadets who do over 1.6 million hours of community service each year.
For more information about Corcoran High School’s Air Force JROTC contact their department at 992-8888 extension 6299 or visit the unit’s webpage which the community can access for more information at https://ca20061.wixsite.com/afjrotc.