Clovis cadets earn nation’s highest ranking

Members of the Clovis High School Junior ROTC Color Guard retire the colors during their commander’s call Wednesday at the high school. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

Clovis High School Air Force JROTC has been named a distinguished unit. That’s the highest-ranking given by the JROTC program nationwide.

It means the CHS squad was selected among the top 20 percent of Air Force ROTC groups, school officials said.

Some cadets were also recognized at a ceremony on Wednesday for promotions they received over the summer, said Col. Philip Frazee, senior aerospace science instructor for the corps.

“The ceremony is basically designed as a vehicle to pass out promotions, pass out awards, basically to get the cadet corps together in the same place,” Frazee said. “ This is our chance to honor them in front of their peers.”

This is the first year the corps of cadets has received the highest honor since Frazee has been senior instructor. Frazee said the corps was in a “hard place” when he took control two years ago, having lost a beloved instructor the year before and experiencing the shock of a new senior instructor.

The corps’ commitment to community service plays a large part in its receiving high honors, Frazee said. The cadets are active in the community, working with the fair, cleaning up highways, and working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he said.

“Cadet Maj. Amber Thompson ran the entire ceremony,” Frazee said. “This is leadership training for the seniors in the corps.”

Col. John Posner, base commander at Cannon Air Force Base, attended Wednesday’s ceremony to show the support of the base and the Air Force, Frazee said. The corps members take monthly trips to the base to learn to supplement their experience as cadets, Frazee said.

The JROTC program at Clovis enriches the entire student body, Clovis High principal Jody Balch said. Because it promotes self discipline and a respect for their peers and for adults, the program tends to prepare students for obtaining careers once they leave the school, he said.

“Its a very unique opportunity for students who know what they want to do in life — and even those who don’t know what they want — to have a regimented experience with direct instruction,” Balch said.

Commander’s call ceremonies are held once a month to serve as leadership training for some of the older cadets, Frazee said.

This year’s cadet corps includes around 135 Clovis High School students, about 100 of whom participated in Wednesday’s ceremony.

The corps has been awarded the highest possible award for 18 of the last 22 years, Frazee said. Superior leadership among the cadets has contributed to the success of the unit over the years.

“I’m very proud of the kids. This is really about them,” Frazee said. “There’s not really a whole lot that I do that results in the corps getting that kind of honor, it’s mostly the kids.”