Ceremony inspires ROTC cadets
Cadets in Thomasville High School's JROTC program on Oct. 8 took part in a ceremony some of them may experience one day.
Staff Sgt. Adolphus Cline, an Army recruiter out of High Point who frequently visited the THS campus over the past several years, re-enlisted in the military Tuesday during a special ceremony held in the school's media center.
JROTC cadets participated in the ceremony, presenting the colors and catching a glimpse of what a possible military career could be like.
"My career was based off the JROTC program," Cline said. "The basic knowledge you get about the military starts here. It's a great career that supports my family and you get to serve your country."
Sgt. Bob Wilgus founded the JROTC program at THS in 1993. With 174 cadets already in the program for the 2013-14 school year, Wilgus said the chance for them to meet someone who now is making a career of his commitment to serve is a valuable experience.
"They're getting a different point of view," said Wilgus. "They've been hearing me say the same thing over and over again for 20 years. Having Sgt. Cline come in like this shows the kids a little bit about what goes on in the military and gives them a point of view of what we've been talking about. It's a great program."
The Oct. 8 ceremony featured a reunion of sorts. Major Gerald Ofsanko, a retired JROTC instructor who taught Cline at South Rowan High School, presided over the ceremony. Ofsanko also served as Wilgus' commander at Fort Dix in New Jersey in 1971.
"The influence you get from men like Sgt. Wilgus and Lt. Merkel stay with you for a lifetime," Cline said. "The decisions I make in the military, often times I hear those guys in my head. I just base it off of their influence and just try to make the right decisions. The biggest thing is these guys paved the path and I just walked down it. I can't thank them enough for that."
Cline spoke to the attending cadets following the ceremony, offering advice and telling them about experiences he had serving overseas. He showcased a collection a symbolic coins awarded for special assignments like serving as a military police officer for Gen. David Petraeus during the height of the War in Iraq.
"It motivated me to be a better person after understanding what he went through," said THS junior Gary Gannaway, a second lieutenant now in his third year in the JROTC program. "Everything he said I believed. I want to do the same thing — fight for country.
"I took after my dad. He was in the Navy so I joined JROTC to see what it was like. I'm kind of committed to it already and I will probably join. I want to go in the Navy and be an engineer."
Cline joined the Army in 2003. His wife Tabatha and the couple's four children attended Tuesday's ceremony.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.