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Elkhart high schools start Junior Air Force ROTC programs

Elkhart high schools are starting Junior Air Force ROTC programs. // WSBT 22 photo

A new junior Air Force R.O.T.C. program kicked off this year at both Elkhart Central and Memorial high schools.

The Air Force-approved program is designed to teach students not only about the military but lessons they can use throughout their life, military or not.

The Air Force junior R.O.T.C. program covers a lot of ground and looks at many facets of life in the air force, from drill instruction, to military bearing, to leadership courses, to aerospace science.

The instructor at Memorial is retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Scott Rutledge, who served for 25 years. He points out the course is not just about the military.

"They learn about self-discipline they learn self-respect, to be able to be on time, integrity first, service before self, and excellence in what we do are the core values that the Air Force has that we try to instill also in this course,” Rutledge said.

Cadets can decide how long they want to take part in the Junior R.O.T.C. course. It's a four-year program.

"We are developing citizens of character who are going to go out and do good things in their community and nation,” Rutledge said.

For students taking part, it has been an eye-opening experience.

"We do drill, we have our own element leaders -- that teaches leadership,” said junior Tomas Rodriguez. “We have to go through and make sure everybody is here, doing what they are supposed to be doing.”

"The reason why I want to go into the Air Force is because my cousin that went into the Marines inspired me,” said ninth-grader Annabel Hernandez.

"I got interested because both my parents served in the military, so I’d known that I always wanted like a career in the military,” said senior Bailey Joy.

Students have the option of joining the Air Force as well as the other branches of the military.

They are not required to join the military after being a part of the R.O.T.C program.

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