Junior ROTC unit honors cadet achievement

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County's Army Junior ROTC program recognized outstanding cadets at a banquet last week. The program has been headed by Major William Brown and Sergeant Major Charles Green since its inception more than a decade ago. The awards are presented by various civic and military groups.

One of the awards, the United States Army Recruiting Command Award, was presented by Staff Sergeant James Bartels, who currently serves as the local National Guard recruiter. Sergeant Bartels is no stranger to the local JROTC program. He was one of Major Brown's original cadets when the program started in 1995. He also served as the unit's cadet commander.

The award Bartels presented goes to a cadet who has demonstrated qualities of leadership, good character and respect for military discipline. Craig Black, a Staunton River High School senior who is already a member of the Army National Guard unit, received the award.

Black's father, Staff Sergeant Daren Black, was on hand to present the American Veterans ROTC Recognition Award. Black, a Guardsman, serves with the 429th Forward Support Company, based in Roanoke. He presented his veteran's organization award to Carrissa Pribble, a Staunton River senior.

Bedford's American Legion Post 54 presented awards that cadets could wear on a military uniform if they join the armed forces. Gene Curd, an Air Force veteran and vice-commander of the Legion post, said that these medals are approved by the U. S. Department of Defense. Three medals, a gold, silver and bronze for military excellence and a gold medal for academic excellence, went to Hailliey Elder, a Jefferson Forest senior, William Keene, a Staunton River junior, Patrick Meadows, a Liberty senior, and Heather Nichols, a Jefferson Forest junior.

A Bedford man, recently returned from duty in Iraq, was on hand to present two awards from the U. S. Army Reserve Officers' Association. Major Tim Brooke, who returned from a tour of duty in Iraq at the end of February, normally wears the uniform of the Bedford Police Department. Last week, he wore his other working uniform. Brooke serves with the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Greensboro, N.C. He presented the awards to Jonathan Rigney and Shane Walk, a junior and senior from Staunton River High School.

Two Liberty High School seniors, Josh Grimstead and David Seamster, who work to keep alive the memory of the men who went ashore on D-Day, were honored. Grimstead and Seamster reenact soldiers of the 29th Division as they would have been dressed and equipped on D-Day. They have invested a couple thousand dollars of their own money to acquire the equipment and uniform items ? some in replica form and others original ? of the period and often provide living history demonstrations at county elementary schools. They appeared at the banquet in their World War II uniforms, rather than the modern Army uniforms that ROTC cadets wear.

Grimstead received the Association of the United States Army award. The organization's Stonewall Jackson Chapter, which presented the award, noted his involvement in a WWII reenacting unit and the large number of elementary school presentations he's made in the last two years.

A member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), who wished to remain anonymous, passed something personal to Seamster. The man is a World War II combat veteran and SAR awarded him medals for his service. Seamster got the miniature medals, in a 60-year-old wooden box.

Three cadets were honored with the Superior Cadet Award. This is given by Major Brown and Sergeant Major Green to cadets who are disciplined, motivated team players who have done a remarkable job during the year. The recipients were David Barringer and Petey Cook of Liberty, and Quinton Boyd of Jefferson Forest High School.

Other awards given were the Daughters of the American Revolution National Defense Medal, going to Katherine Watson of Liberty High School; the Military Order of the Purple Heart Award, given to A. J. Steffey, of Liberty; and the Military Order of the World Wars award, which went to Charles Switzer.