Category Archives: njrotc

Q&A with Master Gunnery Sergeant Lyn Akermon, Naval Science Instructor at New Albany High School

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Can you describe to me what Basic Leadership Training is?

Lyn Akermon: “Basic Leadership Training in my opinion is character development. We take cadets from different schools around the local area— Louisville, Southern Indiana—and we mix them all together, they are all strangers. They have to be functional as one, as a unit. We make it stressful. It’s a stressful environment, stressful mentally and physically because we do a lot of physical training in it. The mental aspect is we teach classes, we put them in leadership roles. They all have to try a leadership role during the week. They have to learn each other’s weaknesses, each other’s strengths. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. But some people have more leadership abilities than others. Basic Leadership Training is, to me, character development. It shows the individual what are my weaknesses what are my strengths? Am I better physically than others? It teaches me about teamwork, comradery, it teaches me how to give certain people tasks. You can’t task just anybody on anything until you know their strengths and weaknesses. So you wouldn’t give somebody a job, in other words, that you knew they were weak in that job and they could not accomplish that job or that mission. So it’s not just about you learning about you, it’s learning about others around you and in life you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. So, Basic Leadership Training teaches you strengths, weaknesses, not just yours, but your teammates and it teaches you how to accomplish goals, or the military calls it accomplish a mission together with what you have at hand. That’s what basic leadership training is.”

“We do it using the military style of training. Physical training, lots of marching. We have team events because we are huge on building teams, uniform inspections, and a lot of it, too, we just have fun events because we teach them that there’s time that you have to work and there’s time that you need to relax and enjoy yourself, too. That’s a lot how the military deals with stress. Everyone is human you’ve got to have some down time.”

BP: Why would you push your cadets to do BLT?

LA: “I don’t do this job to put people in the military. I do this job to make them productive citizens, to make them good citizens. Basically, to teach them that all through life there’s going to be leaders, there’s going to be followers, there’s going to be a lot of stress in your life and the sooner you learn to deal with the stresses of life, the better you can handle the tough situations in anything you do. If you go to college, if you go to the military, if you go to the workforce, family, no matter what happens, you can deal with stress in your life and you have got to learn how to accept it and you have got to learn how to overcome it. And that’s the main reason for leadership training.”

BP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LA: “I think the most it does for them—it’s a confidence builder and it’s extremely good for those cadets who always doubt themselves. It just shows them that they can overcome obstacles in life. That’s the main thing.”

NJROTC visits senior citizens

By Aurora Robinson

On Tuesday night, NJROTC went out to Riverview and Mark Elrod Towers to visit senior citizens and spread the Christmas spirit.

One of the cadets from NJROTC shared the events that occurred that evening and why they go out and carry out this community service act.

“We do this every year. We go and we visit the retirement homes and show everyone that is in the retirement homes that, you know, people haven’t forgotten about them and we spend the holidays with them and let them realize that … there are other people out there that do care,” said senior Jenna Nicholas.

When the cadets went out to spend time with the elderly, they helped them with Christmas activities and with the treats they were serving that evening.

“Basically we get the kids to go in there and help them play bingo, get some cookies, serve some drinks, and then do some caroling, but mainly interact with the older folks,” said naval science instructor Michael Beal.

This community service opportunity lead by the NJROTC program gathered many of the cadets to come out and spend time with the senior citizens for several different reasons.

“I chose to come because I like doing stuff like this. It makes me feel better as a person. I also like spending time with older people because they have a lot of stories to tell and they have a lot of insight on things,” said sophomore Jackie Copple.

Some of the NJROTC participants remembered a few of the senior citizens from previous visits. Particularly, there was a friendly older lady at Riverview Towers who was very excited to see them and interact with them again.

“She is a feisty lady who loves to interact with the cadets and she just gives hugs and wants to dance with them. I look forward to that probably more each year than anything else,” said Beal.

As the students were gathered in Galena for their own Christmas get together with treats and hot chocolate, some of them shared who they were able to meet and chat to.

“Tonight, I was sitting near two Vietnam Marine Corps veterans. One was a woman, the other was a man. Which it’s pretty rare to find a female Marine from that timeframe. So, it was pretty awesome to get to sit down and talk with her and just learn how much the Marine Corps  has progressed with women so far,” said senior Jack Gill.

As the cadets were socializing and sharing their experiences, some were also sharing their favorite moments from their evening spent with the older folks.

“A lot of the senior citizens were really appreciative of us coming out and stuff. It made me happy to see them all smiling and everything. It was really nice,” said senior Raye Perry.

As the NJROTC program wrapped up their holiday celebration, some gave advice for those who have families during the holiday season.

“Just give,” said Beal. “Give and you will get back an enormous amount, especially during the holidays. If you have elderly parents, make sure you visit with them, make sure you touch them, make sure you kiss them and hug them because that is all they want for Christmas.”