4 DODEA-Pacific JROTC units earn AF Distinguished Unit Awards

4 DODEA-Pacific JROTC units earn AF Distinguished Unit Awards

by Dave Ornauer
Stripes Okinawa

Ask Jesus M. Perez Jr. which he thinks is more important, winning three straight Far East marksmanship team awards or the Air Force JROTC Distinguished Unit Award, and he says he’ll need a couple of minutes to consider it.

“Well, the DUA reflects the whole program, but any time any of my cadets do well, it means a lot to me,” said Perez, 60, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant and one of two senior enlisted leaders of the Kadena High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Program.

Kadena’s program was one of four Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific JROTC programs named winners of the DUA, along with Yokota and Robert D. Edgren in Japan and Osan American in South Korea.
The award winners were announced last Thursday in a news release from the Air Force’s JROTC headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., home to Air University, a major component of the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command.

The award, earned by 387 units this year, recognizes Air Force JROTC units that have performed well above and beyond normal expectations, the news release said.

Air Force JROTC is in nearly 890 schools nationwide and at selected DODEA schools in Europe, the Pacific and Puerto Rico. Enrollment includes more than 125,000 cadets doing more than 1.5 million hours of community service each year, the release stated.

Kadena’s honor came less than three months after the school’s JROTC program captured top team honors in DODEA-Pacific’s Far East marksmanship competition at Osan.

There, the Panthers captured top team honors, outshooting runner-up Matthew C. Perry of Japan 2,122.4-2,094.1 and had the top individual shooter overall in senior Justin Vinyard. He and fellow senior Joshua Sawyer placed in the top five overall.

“I honestly, absolutely love my job,” Perez said. He helps command the Kadena JROTC program of 152 cadets, along with retired Major Constance Hoksch and Senior Master Sgt. David Weissberger.

Osan’s JROTC program includes 50 cadets and is commanded by retired Lt. Col. Ted M. Ball and Master Sgt. Vincent P. Villanueva.

Edgren’s program features 35 cadets, with retired Col. Frederick Schuster and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Atkinson in command.

And Yokota’s program includes 72 cadets who’ve amassed 826 community service hours, according to principal Priscilla Hill. Yokota’s corps commanders are Cadet Lt. Col. Anderius Jackson and Cadet Maj. George DeGrella. Instructors are retired Lt. Col. Lester Ball and Senior Master Sgt. Byron Wrenn.

Twitter @DaveOrnauer

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