JR- ROTC History and Amazing Facts

JR-ROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Some of the most notable former members of JR-ROTC include Staff Sergeant William J. Bordelon of the U.S. Marine Corps who was awarded the Medal of Honor, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, and U.S. Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson, who was the first female African-American Prisoner of War in the history of the United States Army. Others are Second Lieutenant Emily Perez who was the first class of 9/11 West Point graduate to die in the Iraq War, Major Alan G. Rogers, who was the first known homosexual combat fatality in the Iraq war, and Brigadier General Thomas E. White who was Secretary of the Army from 2001-2003.

JR-ROTC is a Federal program that is sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in high schools across the United States. Note that this is different from ROTC which is meant for college students. JR-ROTC was created under the National Defense Act of 1916 and it was expanded under the ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964.

The role and purpose of JR-ROTC, according to Title 10, Section 2031 of the United States Code, is ‘to instill in students in [United States] secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.’ JR-ROTC has additional objectives which were established by DOD’s service departments. These include development of good citizenship and patriotism, acquisition of oral and written communication skills, development of knowledge of basic military skills and team building skills, enhancement of physical fitness, and to promote respect for the U.S Armed Forces.

Once a student has completed 2 to 4 years of the course, the cadet will instantly rank higher if he/she pursues a military career. The first official JR-ROTC battalion was in 1916 at Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth, Kansas. The different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, namely the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Cost Guards, have a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and these are organized into units.

JR-ROTC units are set up according to the service’s layout. As an example, in the Army and the Marine Corps, JR-ROTC units follow battalion structures or brigade structures in larger classes. One the other hand, Air Force JR-ROTC units are organized into wings and squadrons. JR-ROTC units are instructed by persons with military experience or those who are still in the U.S. Armed Forces, depending on the state.

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