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2015 NCWG Drill and Ceremonies

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All participants, Cadets, Command Staff, Executive Staff and Support Staff pose for a group picture under the A10 Warthog. Photo credit: 2d Lt Derk R. Beutler, PAO (click image to view full size)
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Through the Eye of the Lens

3/22/2015––We arrived at 2100, Friday, March 20th; in- processing was a beehive of activities. Cadets turned in required forms, received bunking assignments, and endured the dreaded contraband check of the gear. We were some of the last to arrive, from Gastonia, NC, so this had been going on since 1800. There was a total of 66 participates, including the executive staff which consisted of Academy Commander, Capt Patti Overman; Academy Cadet Commander, C/2Lt Elizabeth Moody; Cadet Deputy Commander, C/LtCol Noah Abruzzino;  Cadet Executive Officer, C/Capt Holden Browning and Cadet First Sergeant, C/CMSgt Joshua Creech.

In addition, 7 cadet command staff, 2 cadet PAO (C/CMSgt Jameel Holmes and C/MSgt Ashley Peters who kept the Facebook page: continually updated with current photography and daily activity synopsis), 14 support staff, 1 senior flight commander, 4 senior flight members and 34 cadets arriving from various squadrons across the NC Wing; basic cadets, some having been members for just mere weeks; intermediate cadets, and several advanced cadets with years of experience. Everyone was assigned to a flight, Basic - Romeo Flight, Intermediate - Delta Flight, Advanced - Alpha Flight, and Seniors - Golf Flight.

   What brings these cadets to Goldsboro Composite Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB is a weekend of training in Drill and Ceremonies, this being the second annual such event. The training is hard - many new and advanced concepts, movements, customs and courtesies will are presented, practiced and perfected. But as important as these are, they also come to meet fellow cadets, new and old, converse with their peers, but at the core is building bonds of friendships and mutual respect that will survive the tests of time.

With conclusion of the first night of sleep at the very nicely appointed Alert Pad Barracks, the cadets awoke to the memorable chaos of banging doors and the wailing of "Get out of Bed!". The time was 0600 with only ten minutes to be in physical training PT attire, with complete uniform in hand and lined up in the hallway ready to be transported to the athletic track for and exhilarating mile run. Afterwards was Reveille, raising of the flags, getting dressed, heading to the flight mess hall for breakfast, fueling up with a freshly prepared meal in preparation for the endless Right Face, Left Face, About Face and much more.

Lunch was served and the afternoon continued with a well-received change of pace. A K-9 team from the base security arrived, led by SSgt John Makripodos, dog handler SSgt Matthew Halligan along with SrA Austin Craven, the chew toy.  The group demonstrated how dogs are used to keep the base secure. We thanked them for their service and for sharing how these impressive animals are trained and utilized to keep service members safe.

Capt. Michael Willis with the Apex Cadet Squadron then discussed the difference between a color guard and an honor guard, demonstrating the subtle differences. He concluded with a gun spinning example which was well received. A group of cadets were selected from the three flights and they began color guard training in preparation for the Retreat ceremony.

The shadows begin to draw long, drill practices continued until time for uniform inspections, led by Cadet Commander C/2d Lt Elizabeth Moody, Cadet Deputy Commander C/Lt Col Noah Abruzzino and Cadet Executive Officer C/Capt Holding Browning. One by one, uniforms were scrutinized, haircuts observed and the shine of the boots considered. Deficiencies were conveyed to the cadets with remedy expected. With inspections complete, Retreat Ceremony was conducted, then everyone loaded up and headed back to the barracks to freshen up, change in the civilian clothing, then off to the base's picnic pavilion for free time and a barbecue hamburger and hot dog dinner. Time was short lived, and with the uniform inspections fresh in mind, the cadets eagerly awaited the return to barracks for showers, uniform repairs, ironing, and shining of boots!

   Sunday began much the same as the previous morning, however PT this morning was a grueling test of stamina. Relentless stationary exercises were followed up with a mile and a half run, everyone digging deep with every ounce of energy, clawing, grinding, clinching of teeth, to make the finish line. But in the wake, there are cadets scattered around the course, blisters, exhausted, having given it everything they had. Time to recharge, Reveille, change into uniform and off to another great breakfast. This day all the knowledge gained the previous day will be put together for a pass in review. Now, not only each flight has to work within itself, all the flights have to work together. Practice continued for most of the morning with a break for lunch and a team building scavenger hunt exercise ensuing.

The hour for graduation approached quickly and the final Pass in Review will be performed with on looking parents, family and friends. Back at the barracks cadets packed up and cleaned up while command staff changes into blues uniforms, and returned to the drill pad for the climax. The spectators lined the sidewalk in anticipation of the demonstration of the skills learned and mastered. The command is barked by C/Commander 2d Lt. Elizabeth Moody, "Pass in Review!", the butterflies vanished, and led by C/1Sgt Joshua Creech, the column began to move as a well-oiled machine, marching past, tall, crisp, polished, proud and better all around.