OSWEGO, NY – On the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, the Oswego County Legislature hosted members of the Mexico High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
At the recent county meeting, County Chairman Barry Leemann presented Lt. Col. John Freda and members of his squad with a proclamation.
He recognized their drill team for traveling to Florida and on April 30 competing in the national high school drill team championships.
“They marched to historic success by ranking fifth best drill team in the nation,” he noted.
Overall in 2011, they earned five league titles, and a total of 44 trophies, including 29 first place, nine second place and six third place.
The corps was established at Mexico High School in 1996. Its purpose is to instill in the students the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.
“I want to thank the chairman. This is a special day for us and this (Mexico presentation) makes it extra special,” said Legislator Mike Kunzwiler, USMC.
“This organization had its beginnings a long time ago, when at a faculty meeting a social studies teacher posed the idea of having a Junior Marine ROTC unit in the school. It was discussed by the faculty and approved and the program went forward from there,” said Legislator Jack Proud, a former teacher and administrator at Mexico High School.
Over the years, the new organization in the high school at that point in time, became a cornerstone of the high school, “maybe the most important organization within the high school,” he added.
“Today, it is a cornerstone of the community. Mexico reflects with pride upon the accomplishments of these young people. I like to think of it as a three ‘D’ operation; the group’s dynamic, dedicated and they’re disciplined,” Proud said. “It’s amazing today when you have high school aged students looking for discipline, that they come to this group and they learn.”
“I just want to take a moment and thank you for a chance to recognize these really outstanding young people,” said Lt. Col. Freda. “I retired from the Marine Corps in 2006 and thought I was never going to be able to find a job as rewarding as the one I left, where I felt like I was making a difference for my country. Coming and talking with these kids and helping them mold what is already inside them into productive citizens has been a great honor.”
“I just want to give you a snapshot – you’ve said a lot of nice things in appreciation of their hard work on their drill. It means a lot to them. But, really we’re about, not preparing them for the military, but preparing them to be pillars of society – people who you can count on,” he continued.
In the past 14 days the students had raised $755 for the Mexico Lions Club, so people who have a hard time getting a meal for the holidays can be taken care of. Also, they spent about six hours helping the school get set up for a blood drive.
“They do that kind of stuff every single day,” Lt. Col. Freda said. “They do that because they are committed to being people who make a difference.”