After earning their place in the top 10 percent of Junior ROTC programs across eight states, Copperas Cove High School Bulldog Battalion cadets continue to strive for excellence.

“This program is cadet driven,” said retired Chief Warrant Officer Enrique Herrera, the senior Army instructor at Cove High School. “They do all the orders and schedules, and we are just here to teach them how to do that. They evaluate and teach each other.”

On March 8, the Bulldog Battalion was inspected by members of an Army brigade from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The brigade awarded the battalion the top recognition for inspection.

“They earned this Gold Star Honor Unit with Distinction,” Herrera said.

The inspection, which takes place every three years, evaluates ROTC programs by screening and testing the students, instructors and campus staff.

Cove scored well all around, Herrera said. Out of a possible 600 points, the JROTC program received 579.

Herrera said the JROTC’s academic team scored 100 of 100 points, and the marching units all did well. A drill team led by Jessica Temples, a sophomore, scored 47 of 50 on its 23-move sequence.

“Once you start working together, it is like a huge family coming together,” said cadet 1st Sgt. Cristiana Haring, a 16-year-old junior.

Every team and unit practiced on their own, but they all worked together to make this accomplishment, said cadet 2nd Lt. Ashlynn Davis.

“It was neat watching everything come together,” Davis said.

Some members began training in the summer while others, like the JROTC academic team, started practicing in November, said cadet Sgt. 1st Class, Nathan Nguyen, a 17-year-old junior.

Herrera said receiving the gold star honor shows true dedication from every student — all 189 of them — in the program.

Copperas Cove’s JROTC program has earned the top honor nine times since 1984.

“My hat goes off to these kids,” he said, also thanking the school district for its support.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474

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