MCJROTC Cadets Dive into Leadership Camp in San Diego

Posted July 17, 2018 / Last updated August 8, 2018

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The MCJROTC cadets pose with a stationary training helicopter at the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

The MCJROTC cadets pose with a stationary training helicopter at the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

Jesuit’s MCJROTC ventured cross country to the sunny shores of San Diego to take part in the annual Cadet Leadership Camp on June 4 – 8. Boasting the trip’s biggest group to date, 39 cadets dove into the endeavor to develop leadership skills, build camaraderie, learn about military life first-hand, and have a blast doing so. LtCol Tim Huete ’76 and MGySgt J.R. Piseno led the charge for the weeklong experience.

With the cadence of “Left, right, left…” sounding off around them, the cadets started off Day 1 bright and early with a visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD). With a mixture of sternness and patience, Drillmaster Sgt. Jefferson instructed cadets on proper drill formation, teamwork, habits of precision, and the three hallmarks of a good marine: self-discipline, self-reliance, and spirit. He finished his remarks with encouragement to always give 110%. Armed with a new sense of confidence, the group of cadets finished off the day with nautical tours at the Coronado Naval Base. They explored the decks of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and embarked on a harbor cruise of San Diego Bay, seeing naval ships ranging in size from rather large (USNS Bob Hope) to outright massive (USS Carl Vinson).

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A tour of the flight line at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar kicked off Day 3. The cadets were briefed on the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-21 and toured a stationary MV-22 Opsrey. The cadets stood mesmerized as jets zoomed by, landing and taking-off just a few football fields away. After seeing modern innovations in aircraft first-hand, a visit to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum took cadets back in time. The curator, Steve “Smitty” Smith, gave an in-depth explanation of the on-site, static aircraft and the importance of preserving history for future generations. The last stop of the day was a visit to the submarine base at Point Loma where they toured a fast attack nuclear submarine, the USS Alexandria (SSN-575) whose namesake comes from the two US cities—Alexandria, Louisiana and Alexandria, Virginia.

Drillmaster Sgt. Jefferson instructs the cadets on proper drill formation.

Drillmaster Sgt. Jefferson instructs the cadets on proper drill formation.

Camp Pendleton was the cadet’s first destination on Day 4, where they got to train on a $20 million Combat Convoy Simulator (CCS). Broken up into groups and separated into different simulator rooms, the cadets learned how to more effectively use their communication skills and depend on each other for safe passage through the simulated battle-field. After trucking through virtual combat, they made their way to Camp Pendleton’s Marine Corp Air Station where the group got to witness Marine Corporal Syriah Prater, cadet Luke Prater’s older sister, receive her accommodation to Lance Corporal. After the reunion between the Praters, the cadets got to engage with new marines and ask them about their experience in military service.

The last day was marked by ceremony with the group getting to experience the morning colors and the recruit graduation at MCRD San Diego. The recruit graduation takes place at the completion of a thirteen-week transformation including training in drill, marksmanship, basic combat skills, and Marine Corps customs and traditions. Annually more than 17,000 recruits from the Western Recruiting Region are trained aboard MCRD. After graduation they then toured the MCRD museum and learned about the many wars and battles fought throughout US history.

The leadership camp was a fruitful experience, indeed. Many cadets got to put their leadership skills into action, meet Marines and Sailors from many fields, and gain insight into the Navy and Marine Corps. But it wasn’t all work along the way. Leisure time and camaraderie were in full supply when cadets had dinner in Old Town San Diego, saw the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves, enjoyed a cookout, and relaxed at the beach. The rapidly approaching school year will be a perfect opportunity for these cadets to share the knowledge they gained and put into practice leadership skills honed on the trip.