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North Carolina Airmen judge JROTC drill competition

U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from Lincolnton High School pack up drill rifles during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from Lincolnton High School pack up drill rifles during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Duncan, 145th Maintenance Squadron, grades Lincolnton High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps members on armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Duncan, 145th Maintenance Squadron, grades Lincolnton High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps members on armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

Avery Batts, a Parkwood High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet, stands at present arms in the armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

Avery Batts, a Parkwood High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet, stands at present arms in the armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Duncan, 145th Maintenance Squadron, grades Parkwood High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps members on armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence Hight School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air and Army National Guard.

U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Duncan, 145th Maintenance Squadron, grades Parkwood High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps members on armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence Hight School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air and Army National Guard.

U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from Lincolnton High School compete in the armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from Lincolnton High School compete in the armed flight drill during the Patriot Classic Drill Competition held at Independence High School, Charlotte, N.C., March 10, 2018. Over 300 students from 14 high schools traveled from as far as 3 hours away to compete and were judged by volunteers from the North Carolina Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Airmen with the North Carolina Air National Guard served as volunteer judges at the annual Patriot Classic Drill Competition, held March 10, 2018, at Independence High School in Mint Hill, North Carolina.

The competition drew in Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps teams from 14 high schools with over 300 students participating. 

While there, Airmen did much more than judge the precision of each drill category and interacted with student's answering questions about the military.

"The students are fun, and it's nice to listen to what their plans are and to see this is preparing them for the next step in life whether it's college, the military, or the work force. The JROTC program is helping them flourish," said Staff Sgt. Rita Turbeville, a 145th Force Support Squadron Airman.

The competition is a qualifying event where winners can move onto regional and national competitions.

"We have high schools that came in all the way from the Raleigh and Fayetteville area and from South Carolina too," said Turbeville. “The winners don't just get a trophy, but also the bragging rights to take back that they're the best JROTC.”

Mastering the skills needed to compete at this level requires time and practice. Cadets were judged in 11 categories to include armed and unarmed flight maneuvers, individual drill, and color guard. The 145th judges scrutinized each flight closely for their precision, executions and synchronization.

"We've practiced in the cold, in the wind, in the rain, and we were still outside doing drilling – it's nonstop,” said Omara Hairston, a competitor from North Mecklenburg High School. “We work our butts off to do everything we can to set a good example for our community, ourselves, our families and uphold our core values." 

Air Force JROTC is a program offered at select schools with a goal to educate and train students, promote community service, and instill a higher sense of moral character.

"The motto of JROTC is building better citizens of America,” said Orane Richards, a competitor from North Mecklenburg High School. “Personally, this has helped me a lot and enabled me to grow from my freshmen year to my senior year by developing my leadership skills and future military career." 

Staff Sgt. Maurissa Miller, a 145th Security Forces Squadron defender and volunteer judge for the competition, was impressed with the competitors’ passion for what they’re doing.

"I wasn't even thinking about anything like this in high school,” she said. “These kids are dedicated, and I can see they have put their hearts into it."

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