SAN ANTONIO – Albuquerque High School from Albuquerque, New Mexico, took home first place overall in both the armed and unarmed drill competitions in Cadet Command’s 5th Brigade JROTC Drill Team Championships at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Feb. 6.
The competition featured the top high school drill teams from the eight-state region of southwestern U.S. that comprises 5th Brigade’s recruiting area.
Noncommissioned officers from Fort Sam Houston served as judges for the event, grading the JROTC cadets on their precision, synchronization, and execution of drill and ceremony movements.
“These kids are smooth,” said Sgt. 1st Class Fernando Rivas, Headquarters Support Company, U.S. Army North (5th Army). “They’re all doing really good. We (in the active army) don’t march as much as we used to so these teams are better at drill and ceremony than most Army units.”
“I think it’s a great competition,” said Master Sgt. Angela Cafferky, head judge for the Unarmed Regulation Drill event, and cadre member at the Army Medical Department NCO Academy. “All the groups we’ve had are really enthusiastic and really impressive.”
“You can tell they really care,” agreed Staff Sgt. Christian Hubbell, Intelligence and Signal Company, Army North. Hubbell was one of Cafferky’s three other judges for the unarmed regulation drill. Each took a side in the square marching area and watched the teams like hawks as they executed the dozens of drill movements in a precise order prescribed by the competition rules.
The competition featured six different drill events (regulation, exhibition, and color guard each in armed and unarmed variants) plus armed and unarmed inspection events.
Albuquerque won the overall armed and unarmed competitions by placing in the top three in four of the eight events. Multiple San Antonio High Schools also competed and received various trophies. Theodore Roosevelt, in particular, had a strong day, finishing second overall in the armed events and fourth overall in unarmed events.
All of the competing teams had already won local competitions to earn the right to compete in San Antonio, so the margin of error for victory was very tight. The judges were also impressed at the obvious amount of training the teams had received from their JROTC instructors, typically retired officers and NCOs.
“Drill and ceremony is a perishable skill, so it’s good to see our legacy Soldiers are continuing to pass this on to the next generation” said 1st Sergeant Rodney Washington, the head judge for the Armed Regulation Drill event and first sergeant for U.S. Army South’s Headquarters Support Company.
Top finishers in the 5th Brigade competition will compete in Cadet Command’s National Drill Championships April 6 in Louisville, Kentucky.
A complete list of the competition results is available online at http://www.drillchampion.com/5th brigade.html.