• "What is Aerospace & Leadership?" "What is Air Force Junior ROTC?" Retired Air Force Major Matthew O'Brien of Delaware gets asked those questions a lot -- and he usually responds: "It is MORE important first to tell you what it is NOT! Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) is NOT an extension of the recruiting services of any branch of armed service, is NOT directly connected with college- or university-level ROTC programs, carries NO obligation to enter military service, and does NOT actively encourage any young woman or man to choose a career in the armed service."

    Then he'll tell you what it is: Delaware County AFJROTC is a citizenship- and character-building program offered at Delaware Hayes High School and available to students of Big Walnut, Buckeye Valley, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, and Olentangy Orange High Schools. Chartered by Congress in 1966, Junior ROTC units are charged with integrating programs of aerospace education, leadership- and team-building skills, and community service with the curricula of their host high schools. The program offers coursework in the history and science of aviation, the exploration of space, global cultural studies, and survival skills. All the courses carry elective credit. 
    This will, of course, be a very unusual year due to COVID-19, but the instructors will do their best to make it a good year!  If conditions improve, they hope to eventually phase back in voluntary extracurricular activities such as the interscholastic drill team, compressed-air rifle marksmanship, model rocketry, community service projects, picnics, banquets, parades, sports days, annual military ball, and summer leadership school, etc.! 

    "It's like a triple threat," says O'Brien. "It's the coolest possible elective course you can take, it's a competitive team, and it's a student club, all rolled into one neat package."AFJROTC Cadets get academic credit for studying aviation and space; make new friends; and learn skills that help them succeed in any career. AFJROTC is NOT just for people with military interests. It is for anyone who wants to develop their teamwork and leadership skills.

    In a normal year, community service is a big part of AFJROTC. Cadets provide volunteer services to veterans', civic, and charitable organizations, such as the People In Need holiday food drive. Hopefully as pandemic conditions improve, these activities can be offered again.
    One of the skills all Cadets learn is that of military drill and ceremonies. Although drill is a centuries-old art, it is practiced today to build self-discipline, teamwork, and precision. It is very similar to many team sports, in that the success of any great play depends on each team member being at exactly the right place at the right time and doing exactly the right thing. As Retired Senior Master Sergeant Douglas Manley, the Drill Team Coach describes it, "Every member must have complete trust in every other member of the team." Any young woman or man willing to work hard can succeed in drill – they don't have to be athletic. When the COVID-19 situation is finally under control, The Phantoms Drill Team, one of the voluntary extracurricular programs of Aerospace, will again enter eight regional events each year, competing with Junior ROTC drill teams of the Air Force, Army, and Navy from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And in the future, all Cadets will again get to apply their drill and ceremonies skills in parades for Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day, and in numerous special ceremonies performed in schools and communities across Delaware County.
    Hopefully by next summer, Delaware County AFJROTC will also once again participate in the Ohio Valley Summer Leadership School. This is a voluntary, six-day leadership-building experience at Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, involving Cadets from high schools in Ohio and neighboring states. This intense, activity-based, accredited summer elective course includes academic subjects; land and water survival; tactical skills; an escape and evasion simulation; twilight land navigation; aircraft rides when possible; drill and ceremonies; sports and physical fitness; and a wide variety of recreational activities.
    Delaware County AFJROTC is backed up by its parents' organization, the Delaware Phantoms Boosters. This non-profit corporation supports the Cadets in many ways, including raising a scholarship fund to help pay the Cadets' tuition to the Summer Leadership School. Anyone desiring more information about Air Force Junior ROTC should feel free to contact Matthew O'Brien or Douglas Manley at 740-833-1010, extension 4201, or at obrienma1@delawarecityschools.net  
Last Modified on August 18, 2020