MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Matthew C. Perry High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps took top honors during the Far East Marksmanship Competition at Camp Humphreys, Korea, Feb. 14-16, 2016, and the drill competition at Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, Nov. 16-18, 2015.
A total of 13 schools from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps installations across the Pacific participated in the competitions.
The junior cadets from M.C. Perry placed first in both areas.
“Winning is a vision we had as a team,” said Bradley Cramer, retired master sergeant and M.C. Perry’s head JROTC instructor. “I feel the cadets were able to see that the hard work they put into the program was worth all the time they sacrificed.”
Cramer said he began the process to build a foundation for a championship team a few years ago.
To achieve this goal, his cadets conducted marksmanship and drill practice every day before and after school and occasionally on Saturdays.
“I try to be here every day before and after school for marksmanship practice,” said Elijah Baez, an M.C. Perry High School student and JROTC cadet. “The training helped me develop a sense of muscle memory and a strategy for shooting.”
During the drill competition, M.C. Perry cadets placed first in uniform inspection and armed regulation, second in unarmed and armed exhibitions, and third place in unarmed regulation and color guard. After finishing with two 3rd, two 2nd, and two 1st place victories, the cadets achieved 1st place overall.
“Winning the competition felt great,” said Shaka Taylor, an M.C. Perry High School student and JROTC cadet. “All of the practice finally paid off. We came out the best in the Pacific and that was an amazing feeling.”
Overcoming the use of non-familiar rifles, M.C. Perry made it to the championship round of the marksmanship competition before beating the Sasebo, Guam and Kubasaki JROTC cadets.
“While shooting with borrowed rifles, the M.C. Perry shooters were able to place first overall to secure the championship and bring home a banner,” said Cramer. “They dethroned Sasebo who had won the championship the last five years.”
According to Baez, the practice helps develop a sense of teamwork and dependability between one another.
Upon winning the marksmanship competition, the M.C. Perry cadets started preparing for the Guam Marksmanship Invitational Competition which consists of a biathlon and a three by 20 string of fire. In the three by 20, competitors fire 20 recorded shots from three positions: standing, kneeling and prone.
“Being able to go to Guam feels like an accomplishment, not necessarily an award – because we earned this,” said Baez.
After taking first place in the drill competition, the cadets earned a trip to Hawaii.
Cramer said his students deserve the trip after representing their school and having a great showing from the smallest JROTC unit and school in the Pacific.
“We had the confidence to win,” said Taylor. “I have always wanted to be a Marine, so winning the drill competition makes me feel like I will be an even better one. I am also very excited to go to Hawaii.”
Cramer said each trip will be fun for the cadets, and they have time built in for the cadets to see the sights when they are not competing.
Both the cadets and Cramer said they are confident about taking first in the competition next year because they desire to be the best and are willing to put in the work.
“After winning, we instilled more trust in each other and became more confident as a group,” said Taylor. “We have a lot of returnees and have the determination to win. I believe we will be fine next year.”