UNION COUNTY — On Sept. 10, The Union County High School JROTC Yellow Jacket Battalion conducted its annual commissioning ceremony. In this highly prestigious celebration of excellence, exceptional and well rounded non-commissioned officers are commissioned to officer rank and current officers are promoted.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Lt. Col. (R) Al Black. He has more than eight years experience with the Union County’s Sheriff’s Office as a Criminal Investigator and Polygraph Examiner working cases from simple assault and theft to serious crimes against persons and society. He spent 22 years in the Air Force rising to the responsibilities of Senior Analyst in operational systems for the Air Force and Department of Defense. He holds a master’s degree in business administration in aviation and has been the project manager for activities ranging from the day to day management of $1.8 billion dollars in assets to a major refurbishment of an Air Force long range radar.
Colonel Black spoke on the topic of future leadership. He asked the cadets whether they are willing to take up the leadership challenge. He stressed that the most powerful asset a person can develop is who you are — your core being — the kind of person you will grow up to be. Once you decide that, life’s important questions will fall into place. He emphasized personal character-driven leadership as opposed to modern society’s emphasis on personality-driven leadership. Three main qualities of a leader, according to Colonel Black, are moral discipline, moral attachment, and moral autonomy. He explained the meaning of each. He quoted his own father, who said “If you don’t know what you stand for, you will fall for anything.” He reminded the cadets of the importance of keeping good company, saying it is better to be alone than to be in bad company. He closed with his personal prayer for the cadets — that they develop into persons of good character. Colonel Black’s full remarks will soon be available on Union Cable Channel 14.
Two cadets were promoted this year:
Alana Dion Wright is a senior. This is her fourth year in JROTC. She will be taking on the duties of the Battalion Executive Officer. She serves as Secretary for National Technical Honor Society as well as Beta Club. She is a member of the Interact Club, Vice-President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Commander of Jedi Knights. This is her fifth year in the UCHS Marching Band where she plays the trumpet and is band captain and trumpet section leader. This year she was selected to be on the Arthur State Junior Board of Directors. This summer she attended Palmetto Girls State and led the George C. Marshall Leadership Team to Washington, D.C. She attends Buffalo United Methodist Church where she is a member of the adult choir, hand bell choir and youth group. After high school Alana plans to attend USC Upstate and earn a BSN in Nursing. Her rank was pinned on by her sister Dona Nena Wright and her mother Paula Wright.
Ethan Christian Pendleton is a senior. This is his fourth year in JROTC, one year in Marine JROTC and three in Army JROTC. He will be taking on the duties of Alpha Company Commander. He is the captain of the Wrestling Team. He is a graduate of JCLC 2012. He is an avid member of First Baptist Church Union, where his father is the pastor. He hopes to attend Newberry or Limestone College on a wrestling scholarship, and participate in Senior ROTC. After college he plans to pursue a career in the Military. His rank was pinned on by his Father Rick Pendleton and his Mother Donna Pendleton.
The following cadets were commissioned:
Detric Dequon Means is a senior. This is his fourth year in JROTC. He will be the Battalion S-1. He is a member of National Technical Honor Society, National Honor Society, Interact Club, and Jedi Knights. He is also a 2011 JCLC graduate and a former member of the Academic Team. This is his fourth year in UCHS Marching Band where he played the trumpet for three years and now plays the mellophone. This summer, Detric attended Palmetto Boys State. Detric also attends Monarch Baptist Church where he is a member of the adult choir and helps participate in youth activities. After high school, Detric plans to attend College of Charleston and become a cytotechnologist. His rank was pinned on by his mother Vivian Gregory and Terrance Willingham.
Justin Michael Dudley is a senior in his fourth year of JROTC. He is the Charlie Company Commander. He is an A-B student and is a member of the Raider Team and Jedi Knights. He graduated from Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge in June. This is his fifth year playing the tuba in the marching band. Justin is also a member of FBLA and is on the varsity soccer team. After high school he plans to attend college and study Nuclear Engineering. His rank was pinned on by his parents Heather and Keith Dudley.
Nichalos Austin Garrison is a senior. This is his fourth year in JROTC. He is the Bravo Company Commander. He is a member of the Drill Team, Color Guard, and Jedi Knights. He attended Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge in 2012. Nick is an A-B student. He is a volunteer Fire Fighter on the Philippi Fire Department. He plans to join the National Guard and attend Newberry College. His rank was pinned on by his mother Melissa Vanwhy and a close friend of the family Beth Bishop.
Brandon James Copeland is a junior. This is his third year in JROTC. Brandon will be taking on the duties of Battalion S-2 and S-3. He is a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, and Interact. Brandon is also the recipient of the prestigious title of Black Belt in American Karate. After graduation Brandon plans to go to the United States Air Force Academy and graduate as an Officer. His rank was pinned on by his mother, Sarah Copeland and his grandmother Sarah Hennesberry.
Erin Nicole Fowler is a junior serving as the Battalion S-4. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and Music Gifted and Talented Program. She attends Mon- Aetna Baptist Church. She is the captain of the JROTC Leadership Team this year. She wants to go to the Arts Institute for Audio, Video, or Film Production. Her rank was pinned on by her father Andy Fowler and mother Pam Fowler.
Hailey Elizabeth Sherbert is a junior in her third year of JROTC. She is the Battalion S-5. This is her third year in the UCHS Marching Band where she plays piccolo and is Flute Section Leader. She attends West Springs Baptist Church where she is an active member of her youth group. She is currently a member of the UCHS concert choir. After high school she plans to attend the US Air Force Academy or the US Naval Academy. Her rank was pinned on by her father Ashley Sherbert and her grandfather Denis Sherbert.