Change of Command 22

JROTC promotes incoming battalion commander ‚Äč
Posted on 06/01/2022
Maj. Gregory Crites helps perform the passing of the colors from cadet Ltc. Dustin Ramsey to Aaliyah Shephard.

Dozens of outstanding cadets and the companies they represent were honored during the annual awards and Change of Command ceremony of the JROTC on Thursday, May 19, at Poplar Bluff High School.

Cadet Cpt. Aaliyah Shephard, incoming senior, was assigned to succeed cadet Ltc. Dustin Ramsey of the Class of 2022 as commander of the Billie Gene Kanell Battalion for the upcoming school year.

“As I leave I want to thank all the cadets of this battalion for their extraordinary efforts as we worked together through every issue, every challenge, every hard time, every happy victory, and now we stand united in triumph today,” Ramsey stated at the event’s opening.

He offered the following advice to his fellow cadets: “Take a step back and enjoy what is going on around you. Time flies by if you don’t stop to admire it once in a while.”

Evaluated on appearance and subject knowledge of JROTC, drill and ceremony, the student who was selected as cadet of the year was Josephine Kaup. This year’s top company based on academics, community service, physical fitness, appearance, and drill and ceremony was Alpha Company.

“There may not be many of them, but they’re good,” stated Maj. Gregory Crites, senior Army instructor. He later performed the ‘passing of the slug’ ritual, delivering a weighted sculpture to Echo Company for receiving the most zeroes, joked Crites, “despite a valiant effort.”

Sixty-three percent of the cadets earned their academic achievement wreath by maintaining a B average or better in all of their classes, noted Crites, with cadet Pvt. 1st Class Michaley Krizman receiving the Superintendent's Scholastic Excellence Award by leading the battalion with an 11.28 grade point average.

Crites also highlighted Purple Heart Award recipient cadet Capt. Dylan Brown for displaying an exceptional potential for leadership, strong moral character and loyalty to unit, school and community, as well as a desire to serve the nation. “The Purple Heart has a special significance within the battalion. It is my go-to cadet within the course of the year. They get it done and get it done well,” Crites said.

PBHS Principal Mike Owen, who has accepted a cabinet position as assistant superintendent of personnel, was additionally recognized by Crites. In over 20 years, Owen has been the most engaged and involved with the battalion, making appearances at drill meets, and taking great interest in the program, according to Crites. “I hate to lose you, but as a professional, I wish to acknowledge you,” Crites commented.

For subsidizing the military ball and entrance fees during drill meets, Crites thanked the active JROTC Booster Club members, many of whom he said are no longer parents of cadets: “They just have a heart to serve,” Crites pointed out.

Upon being promoted to battalion command sergeant major, Shephard thanked her predecessor for establishing a “new level of excellence” and then she committed to building upon his foundation: “We can and we will,” she stated.

“We have truly been in this together,” Shephard continued. “It’s the together that makes JROTC so different and so special. And together is how we’re going to accomplish our mission and overcome all challenges in the coming year.”


Cutline: Maj. Gregory Crites, JROTC senior Army instructor, helps perform the passing of the colors from cadet Ltc. Dustin Ramsey to cadet Ltc. Aaliyah Shephard, symbolizing the Change of Command.

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