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Tohopekaliga High School's National Navy Defense Cadet Corps Unit Brings Home the Distinguished Unit Award

Most Junior ROTC competitions were canceled this school year, but that did not stop the National Navy Defense Cadet Corps unit at Tohopekaliga High School.
They were determined to bring home the Distinguished Unit Award, the highest unit award that can be earned.

"I think we just showed an indomitable spirit where a lot of other units saw this as an excuse to not have to do a lot of things," said Battalion Executive Officer Michael. "We saw it as an opportunity to step up."

Michael and his co-Battalion Officer, Loralei, both aspire to serve in the military behind many of their family members. That is why they joined the JROTC program. Successful programs take time to build, but the two Battalion Officers were determined to make a name for their unit before graduation.

"The challenge was to get and earn the distinguished unit award," said Commander Fred Morrow. "The way you get that award is you have to participate in numerous community service projects, school projects, field meets, field trips."

Michael and Loralei organized hundreds of community service projects from marching in parades to collecting coats and blankets for the homeless. Their unit as a whole completed more than three thousand hours of community service this school year. Their work ranked them in the top 30 percent of JROTC units in the state of Florida, which allowed them to earn the Distinguished Unit Award.

"We really pulled the unit together," said Loralei. "We were able to push forward with the resources that we had."

Their unit also earned a nomination for one of the most improved units in the nation.

"That sets a standard, it sets a bar and shows us that we can go further," said Rahul, the rising senior Battalion Commander. "It means a lot because in spite of everything that’s happened it means we worked hard; we did what we needed to do."

Loralei is passing her commander ranks onto Rahul, who's got some big shoes to fill next year.

"We can go even farther," said Rahul.

"There potential is only limited by opportunity and their initiative and drive," said Chief Mark Antoniazzi.

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