- Vista Ridge High School
Space Force JROTC Activated at Falcon High School
The sky is no longer the limit for Falcon High School students as they took a step toward space on Wednesday, April 20. The Falcon High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) officially transitioned into one of only 10 United States Space Force JROTC units in the world.
Military representatives in attendance spoke on the value of leadership during and after the ceremony which fell, coincidentally, in the middle of National Student Leadership Week.
As part of the official ceremony, Colonel John Graver, director of Air Force Special Warfare, deactivated the AFJROTC unit and cased its flag.
“Our nation has evolved and so has JROTC,” Graver said during his speech. “Space Force now begins a similar journey. Throughout the years, JROTC has worked to bring our nation’s defense and societal requirements of the next generation to the forefront. Likewise, as technologies have advanced, so has JROTC. Where we once said, ‘the sky is the limit,’ with the students of this school, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. The citizens and leaders JROTC develops here will confront a very challenging future. This change will inform, engage and inspire all who strive to become something bigger than themselves. I believe these cadets will be up for the challenge.”
Colonel Jeffrey Greenwood, Space Force Delta 13 Detachment 1 Commander, activated the new USSF JROTC unit.
“I respect what you do at this level, because some of you will take what you learn here and pursue a life of military service,” Greenwood said. “I realize the participation in JROTC doesn’t mean that its members will go on to serve in the military. But the lessons and values you learn here will easily transfer into becoming just good human beings.”
“Our future Space Force requires top talent to protect our nation and its way of life,” Greenwood said. “We need America’s best and brightest. There is no better way to begin your journey than through JROTC. The program serves to mold our young men and women into the leaders of tomorrow through instilling in them a sense of citizenship, service and personal responsibility to be the best they can be today.”
Greenwood and Chief Master Sergeant Jacob Simmons pinned the cadet senior leadership with new USSF “Deltas” on their Class A uniforms.
FHS JROTC is now attached to the 4th Space Operations Squadron (4th SOPS) at Schriever Space Force Base, led by Lt. Col. Brian Dea.
After the ceremony Dea spoke about the leadership experience students acquire in JROTC. “The only way to become a leader, is to lead. JROTC offers the opportunity to put into practice and learn leadership principles which are skills that are going to last with them for the rest of their lives. And if they chose to serve in the military, they are going to learn lessons now and to put them into good use on active duty.”
The cadets and the Space Operation Squadron will participate in activities together, including visits to Schriever Space Force Base. Dea is eager to begin the relationship with FHS students.
“That’s the great privilege, they are going to get the opportunity to interact with leaders that are leading in the United States Space Force right now,” Dea said. “They are going to interact with people supporting operations across the globe that are just a few years ahead of them. The separation of where they are as high school students and where our Guardians are on active duty is very small. For some of the Guardians I have on my squadron, it wasn’t too long ago that they were in high school.”
Senior Master Sgt. (Ret) Bill Hartley, senior aerospace science instructor at FHS, is excited for the students. “Commander Dea and several of his staff have already reached out about mentorship opportunities, field trips, and joint community service projects,” he said.
Senior Master Sgt. (Ret) Jerry Easley, aerospace science instructor at
FHS expressed his thoughts about the leadership opportunities JROTC provides students. “JROTC is a cadet-run program and requires our cadets to take on leadership positions,” he said. “These leadership positions help the cadets learn what it is like to have to make both rational and intuitive decisions to ensure the program is running efficiently. Of course, mistakes will be made at this level, but it helps them to learn from their mistakes early in life and that it is OK to make mistakes, but to learn from them as well. I believe these leadership opportunities help the cadets prepare for college, as well as, future employment whether it be blue collar, white collar, or military.”
Before leaving the auditorium the FHS cadets had a few minutes to ask questions of the military representatives. All 4th SOPS members shared a brief history of their military careers. Simmons spoke about the importance of space, not in the future, but now.
“The challenge is and the reason why we have a Space Force, other countries have decided that they don’t want us to have an advantage,” Simmons said. “Other countries are looking at ways to take away your lifestyle.”
He spoke of technology and access to the internet from sharing of information, to shipping, and paying at the pump for gasoline. All of which must go through satellites to function properly, and could be shut down by an enemy.
“I ask you to consider looking at the Space Force or the space enterprise as a way to serve your nation, but also as a way to build for the future,” Simmons said.
The FHS AFROTC first activated in January 2003 and draws about 175 to 250 students each year. In that time, 28 FHS cadets have earned service academy commissions, including the Air Force Academy, United States Military Academy (West Point) and the Naval Academy. Thirty cadets have received senior ROTC scholarships to every branch of the military.
The USSF was created in December 2019 and is the sixth branch of the United States military. It is responsible for defending America’s interests in space and includes all aspects of space operations, including satellites. Considerations for JROTC unit selection included school proximity to Space bases, facilities, and centers of influence. Space Force JROTC plans to convert 100 units of the 870 AFJROTC units over the next few years.
The Air Force JROTC curriculum currently consists of about 40 percent instruction on leadership, 40 percent aerospace science, and 20 percent on fitness and wellness. The SF JROTC curriculum is in development, but will include the subjects of space environment, space exploration, manned and unmanned spaceflight, space technology, as well as commercial use of space.
The 10 Space Force JROTC Schools:
- Arlington Career Center, Arlington, Va.
- Del Norte High School, Albuquerque, N.M.
- Durango High School, Las Vegas, Nev.
- Falcon High School, Peyton, Colo.
- Huntsville High School, Huntsville, Ala.
- Klein High School, Spring, Texas
- Shadow Mountain High School, Phoenix
- Space Coast Junior/Senior High School, Cocoa, Fla.
- The Academy for Academic Excellence, Apple Valley, Calif.
- Warren County High School, Warrenton, N.C.
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Story by Joel Quevillon
Photos by Joel Quevillon and David Nancarrow