Cadets in the Killeen Independent School District’s JROTC program will be asked to put their best foot forward this week, as they hold their annual formal inspections.

The comprehensive inspections began Tuesday at Ellison and Shoemaker High schools. Held every four years, the inspection is conducted by the Army and covers nearly every aspect of a school’s JROTC program.

“It’s an evaluation of the overall program,” said retired Lt. Col. Joe Merlo, lead instructor for Ellison’s JROTC program. “They are looking at the curriculum, student’s knowledge of guidelines ... everything.”

At Ellison, the inspection was conducted by members of the 6th Squadron, 9th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood.

Cadets were evaluated on their uniforms and drills and were asked questions about JROTC rules and guidelines. Cadets also were evaluated individually on how they performed the duties associated with their rank and job within the JROTC program.

Reon Hunt, a sergeant first class and platoon leader in Ellison’s JROTC, said he and his fellow cadets are used to inspections, but the annual formal inspection takes years of preparation.

“You have people from the actual Army coming to look at you and what you are doing, so it’s a whole different kind of inspection,” said Hunt, a junior in his third year with JROTC. “It is a big deal, and it can definitely make people a little nervous.”

Merlo said a little nervousness may not be such a bad thing.

“We try to put them in a controlled, stressful situation,” he said. “They learn to look inside themselves and step up.”

For cadets like 11th-grader Shemaiah Hazel, the rigor and responsibility that comes with participating in JROTC translates to important life skills.

“The instructors are teaching us good habits that are going to help us for the rest of our lives,” he said. “That’s why I decided to stay in JROTC after I joined.”

Currently, the Killeen Independent School District has roughly 1,000 student enrolled in JROTC between its five high schools. Formal inspections at Ellison and Shoemaker were completed Tuesday. Inspections for Harker Heights High School’s cadets will take place today, with inspections for cadets at Killeen High School scheduled on Thursday.

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

(1) comment


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