Each year, the Air Force JROTC program at Eagle River High School offers cadets a chance to attend a week long Leadership Camp near Gunsight Mountain, located about 8 miles south of Eureka.
Lt. Col. (Ret) David Ennis and CMSgt. (Ret) Bill McNew along with the adult volunteer “Cadre” provide cadets training in first aid, orienteering, marksmanship, archery, rappelling, physical fitness, team building and leadership skills. Cadets leave Leadership Camp having been physically and mentally challenged.
When things got tough throughout the week, Cadet Lt. Col. Megan Hancox encouraged the group to “Just keep pushing.”
The leadership course is designed to be difficult. When Cadet Kristen Brightbill felt discouraged, she reminded herself and others to keep a good attitude and “Push through boundaries.”
Along with the training, Cadets also had an opportunity to experience flying in a Sikorsky Pave Hawk Helicopter as well as take a rafting trip down Lion’s Head in a Nova River Runner.
The cadre and cadets also performed a flag retirement ceremony. Nearly 100 American, Alaskan and Canadian flags were retired.
The first flag retired is divided into its parts to honor what each section represents.
Seven red stripes and six white strips; together they represent the original 13 colonies that gained us liberty. The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood of brave men and women who were ready to die for this, their country. The white stripes remind us of purity and innocence. The blue is for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The stars represent the fifty sovereign states of our union.
As the cadets placed the flags in the fire, emotions began to take over, and many broke down in tears even while they saluted, honoring our flag.