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Gainesville Navy ROTC doing great things, officer says at inspection
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The Gainesville High School Navy ROTC air rifle team performed at the ceremony Friday. - photo by Kristen Oliver

Some of Gainesville High School’s sharpest students were dressed in their best Friday.

The school’s Navy ROTC unit held an annual inspection Friday, at which time their uniform, presentation and skills were observed by U.S. Navy retired Cmdr. Rustie Hibbard.

“Every year, every NROTC unit in the nation has to have an annual inspection,” said Michelle Nguyen, Gainesville High’s battalion commanding officer. “It’s to see where the unit stands, how we’re doing in our spaces and how we’re doing with our cadets to make sure they are on the right track to graduate and be successful in their lives.”

The cadets were inspected by Hibbard and received feedback from him. They also invited area veterans to view the inspection and a presentation by the entire unit and its drill teams.

Hibbard commended the drills teams, including an unarmed team and an air rifle team, for their hard work.

“There a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of dedication that goes into that,” he said.

The ROTC program itself is “doing great things in Gainesville,” according to Hibbard, who commissioned the unit years ago.

“These young men and women have worked hard,” he said. “I’m glad to be here to share it with them.”

Along with area veterans, members of the school board, city council and school administration were invited to view the program. Superintendent Wanda Creel thanked the many parents present for their support and congratulated the cadets on a successful inspection.

“This program has a tremendous reputation, and it’s because of the hard work and dedication on the part of the administration, the instructors and the cadets, because they put the time in,” Hibbard said. “It doesn’t happen by accident.”

Nguyen said the purpose of the inspection is to show Hibbard what the cadets are doing both as a unit and in the classroom.

Hibbard said the program is not about military recruitment, but about preparing young people for their futures. He said one of the biggest lessons taught through ROTC is “if you work hard, you can be successful.”

“This is what we’re trying to teach you about life,” Hibbard said to the cadets. “The effort you put into this program, if you put the same effort into your careers, you’re going to be successful. That’s what this program is about.”

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