Photo by Curt Yeomans: The Mundy’s Mill High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill teams beat all comers at the recent Southeastern Regional Drill Championship competition.
The Mundy’s Mill High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill team continues to show that it is the cream of the crop in this region. It outperformed the competition at this year’s Southeastern Regional Drill Championship.
The battleground was Tiff County High School, in Tifton, Ga., where this year’s competition was held. Mundy’s Mill cadets squared off against drill teams from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, which make up the Southeastern region.
Cadet Lt. Col. Charles Swinney, a junior at Mundy’s Mill, said this is the second year the team has participated in the Southeastern competition. “My first year, I wasn’t a commander, and we really didn’t place,” said Swinney. “But, this year, we came back with a vengeance, and won everything –– first place.”
Overall, the drill team brought home seven trophies, placing first in most categories, including, first place in armed regulation and armed exhibition.
Swinney was also chosen outstanding exhibition commander in the region. He said it took hard work, focus and determination to prepare for this year’s competition. Cadets began practicing their routines in the summer, he said, meeting on the school’s football field at dawn. They practiced for five to six hours a day, Swinney said.
“It took the whole summer to get the routine together, and make sure it was perfect,” he added. Swinney said the team got the ideas for the drill routine that won the competition from watching videos on Youtube, of the Air Force and Navy drill teams. He said the cadets worked hard to mirror those same moves.
Command Master Sgt. Robert Walker, an aerospace science instructor at Mundy’s Mill, said that two years ago, the cadets won first place in the state competition for the same exhibition routine.
The school’s program has 470 students, making it the largest in the Southeastern region, and the seventh-largest in the nation, according to Lt. Col. Raymond King, senior aerospace science instructor.
King said the purpose of the program is to instill discipline and character, so cadets can become the future leaders of tomorrow. He said those who are participating in the program have improved in their academics and attitude. The program, he said, has turned around some of the toughest students in the school, some of whom are former gang members.
“I’ve taken kids from the worse [backgrounds,]” said King, “We have [gotten students] into college, and have completely turned their lives around.”
Instructor Walker agreed. He said the program has helped students become more prepared to attend college. “We are preparing about three cadets, as we speak, to attend West Point,” said Walker.
Walker said the next big competition for the drill team will be the Martin Luther King Invitational, and if the cadets place in the top three there, they will move on to the Joint Nationals Competition, in Montgomery, Ala.
After that, he said, will be the state drill championship, which will be held at Mundy’s Mill High School.