J.P. Benjamin Camp 2210 Tampa SCV Presents 11 Hunley Awards to local JROTC Programs in 2014
By Capt. Phil Walters - Judah P. Benjamin camp 2210 Sons of Confederate Veterans Tampa
The historical Honor Society Judah P. Benjamin camp 2210 Sons of Confederate Veterans of Tampa, Fl. is proud to announce its members presented 11 prestigious SCV Hunley Awards to 11 outstanding JROTC Cadets in the greater Tampa Bay area for the 2014 school year.
This award is presented to a (preferably) second year Cadet who exemplifies honor, courage and in particular commitment to their unit and fellow Cadets as selected by their program’s Commander. The Award’s namesake, the CSS Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy combatant in warfare. She took her first two crews of eight sailors to a watery grave and was raised after each catastrophe. The third crew successfully completed their mission of sinking the blockading USS Housatonic; however it was conducted at a dreadful price as the Hunley once again sank with its crew and was lost in Charleston Harbor for over 136 years. In 2000, the Hunley was raised from it’s resting place and is now conserved in Charleston, S.C. On April 17, 2004, the identifiable remains of the last crew as recovered from the Hunley were provided a funeral with full honors by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and interned in Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery.
The members of the J.P. Benjamin camp wished to increase the number of JROTC programs receiving a Hunley Award through fundraising, education and effort. Our members committed to the Hunley project so we could provide the Award at no cost to the JROTC program or recipient. We had multiple Compatriots step forward to learn the procedures to a meaningful presentation while simultaneously identifying JROTC programs interested in the Award along with commitments for funding. This resulted in a nearly 3 fold increase of Hunley Awards presented to worthy Cadets over 2013 presentations.
This year’s presentations created many noteworthy moments for our members. The Benjamin camp had 7 different members present the Hunley Award so the experience was spread among membership for their participation. On one evening we had 3 simultaneous presentations so we were a little thin on spectators however all presentations were conducted without a hitch. We had 2 alumni present the Hunley Award at their old haunts; LCDR Phil Walters of Leto HS C/O 1978 and LCDR Greg Caulley of East Bay HS C/O 1980. Additionally, Mr. Caulley was a member of East Bay’s inaugural JROTC program back in 1977 so the presentation was heartfelt and memorable. For 2015 presentations, we are anticipating increasing the number of outstanding cadets that will be recognized for their achievements and also increasing the number of area Alumni that will return to their schools as a presenter.
A.P. Leto H.S. Naval JROTC Commander Jordon runs a tight ship. He was a career Navy man now shaping future citizens and service folks through his program. He has nearly 180 cadets enrolled in Leto’s JROTC program. They are well drilled by SGM (Marines-Ret) Brooks. He runs his program 11 months of the year, with only July off in order to keep his Cadets sharp and focused through the summer while prepping them for a successful new school year. After witnessing a “Drill Inspection” prior to the Awards ceremony, I observed well trained, engaging, polite, sharply dressed and MOTIVATED body of students exhibiting an “Esprit de Corps,” very much in contrast with my other high school student experiences. Moreover, as the local Marine Corps recruiter shared with the audience from the podium, “The JROTC program at Leto has consistently produced high quality recruits for the Marine Corps and has a long track record as a top program in the state of Florida. These recruits have gone on to become Marines of the highest quality with successful careers.” Additionally, this program has produced many well prepared recruits for all branches of the service and scholarships for advanced education, with one class of 2014 Cadet entering the Navy’s Nuclear program.
I was very pleased to present the first Hunley award at A.P. Leto H.S. to sophomore Cadet PO1 David Estrada. Program CMD Jordan described Cadet Estrada as “ One hard working and vastly improved Cadet.” Cadet Estrada entered the JROTC program half way through his freshman year and is fully committed to JROTC. He greatly enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow Cadets that he considers his family. In turn, wishing to please his family, he’s motivated to make them proud. He’s taking extra steps to do so, so many so he said he’s even improved his “room cleaning” schedule at home to reflect his commitment to principles the program has instilled in him. “I’m very proud to wear the Navy JROTC uniform and the recognition it reflects in public” he said. From my interviews, I believe Cadet Estrada is worthy to wear the uniform and his Sons of Confederate Veterans Hunley Award that’s upon it. We’re proud of you and your accomplishments Cadet Estrada! Deo Vendice!
Copyright PMW 2014 may be publish with permission