Chief Enrique Herrera has selflessly served his country for more than four decades and he instills this patriotic duty in high school students on a daily basis. Herrera is the Junior ROTC instructor at Copperas Cove High School. After 21 years of active duty service first as an enlisted soldier and then advancing to warrant officer, he became a certified JROTC instructor in 1998 and joined the CCHS staff in 2001.
Herrera’s discipline, experience, and commitment to his country resulted in great changes in our high school JROTC battalion. Prior to his arrival, our school district’s JROTC program was a standard type of program with marching and classroom work. It did not have extracurricular teams other than a color guard and marksmanship team. The enrollment numbers were steady at 160 per year.
In 2003, Herrera began raising funds to build a rappel tower and obstacle course on the high school campus. Students experienced Herrera’s love for his country and he instilled patriotism in these young people. Enrollment numbers of cadets skyrocketed to 315. To properly meet students’ instructional needs, the district now limits enrollment and the JROTC program has consistently enrolled between 265 to 275 cadets per year under Herrera’s leadership. Due to Herrera’s inspiration of students to serve our nation, Copperas Cove was ranked number seven in the nation for having the highest number of U. S. military recruits.
Under Herrera’s guidance, both the rappel tower and obstacle course were completed and operating by the summer of 2004. In the fall of 2005, the rope bridge training area was constructed. This training equipment provided additional opportunities for Herrera to instill discipline and commitment to our nation in high school aged students who are approaching an age at which they are able to serve our nation through the armed forces.
Herrera also established a viable physical fitness program that enabled students to focus on being able to pass the U. S. Army physical training requirements. In 2007, Herrera established the Cadet Commend JCLC Junior Cadets Leadership Challenge summer camp at Fort Hood Texas. Today, schools throughout Central Texas compete with their JROTC cadets in this regional competition.
By the fall of 2004, under Herrera’s leadership, CCHS students began excelling in competitions winning their first regional color guard championship. Advancing to the national contest, the cadets captured second place.
There have been numerous notable mentions in the CCHS JROTC program under Herrera including Cadet Shay Haver who went on to graduate from West Point, the AH 64 course and then went on to become one of the first two females to complete and graduate U.S. Army Ranger School. When interviewed by national media about becoming the nation’s first female ranger, Haver thanked Herrera for instilling the values, discipline and citizenship in her to reach goals she never dreamed possible. Today, Captain Haver commands Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Herrera’s ability to instill citizenship, patriotism, and discipline in students is unmatched. Students continue to be impacted by their leadership development beyond their high school years, which is proven by the high numbers that have gone on to serve our country. CW3 (Ret.) Enrique Herrera was selected this past Monday as the Copperas Cove High School VFW Teacher of the Year.