Kofa JROTC survive crucible with help from Yuma Marines

9 May 2013 | Lance Cpl. Reba James Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

YUMA, Ariz. - Standing in formation across the green field, the Kofa High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (MCJROTC) students had no idea what to expect as they geared up for the culminating event of their training experience.

Students were both anxious and excited to welcome the unexpected during this half day event in part to show their parents and peers how hard they have worked while in the MCJROTC program which is in its first year at Kofa High School.

Approximately 135 students tested their strength and abilities on the Kofa High School football field March 28 in Yuma, Ariz.

Leading the festivities was a promotion and commendation ceremony for a select few students and then the games began. Maj. Brian M. Bell (ret.) and Master Gunnery Sgt. Eric Holland (ret.), lead MCJROTC instructors at Kofa, chose the name, “Crucible,” to name the physically intense competition because it represents one of the most challenging experiences recruits have during Marine Corps Boot Camp.

The Crucible was used to summarize all that the MCJROTC cadets had learned about up to this point since the start of the program in 2012.

“We wanted to have a culminating event for the JROTC students before they are released for spring break,” said Maj. Brian M. Bell, senior Marine instructor of the MCJROTC program with over 20 years of service in the Marine Corps. “We wanted it to be fun and about team building and working together.”

Events for the crucible included military drill, an ammo can lift competition and relay, and a tug-o-war between platoons.

The program is an elective class offered to students five days a week with a schedule that includes drill formation instruction, leadership training, uniform inspection and instructions, classroom instruction on history and life skills and physical fitness. It has both long and short term benefits for the cadets.

“The purpose of the program is not for recruitment, but to instill leadership in the cadets,” said Bell.

“It was a good way to learn about leadership qualities and become a leader,” said Elsa Madrid, a junior at Kofa High School and the leader of 6th platoon.

Aside from learning leadership qualities and the benefits of achieving promotion and recognition, the program was designed to keep the cadets academically sharp.

Bell explained that the MCJROTC program helps students academically because if their grades are slipping they won’t get promoted.

“We see students who in the beginning are not doing too great with a 1.9 GPA (grade point average) and end up with a 3.2 GPA because they want to be promoted,” said Bell.

Cadets in the MCJROTC are mentored by Marines, who are both active duty and retired, while in the program.

“Marines from the base (MCAS Yuma) come to help out and volunteer,” said Bell. “They teach them drill and they do PT (physical training) with them.”

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Marines volunteer their time when they can to mentor the students in the MCJROTC program.

“We have younger lance corporals and corporals who come out if they can and the students relate better with them versus trying to relate with a major or a master gunnery sergeant,” said Bell.

“With the communities support and positive attitude towards the military and the air station the program was easy to get started and the students have been receptive,” said Bell. “Yuma is fertile ground for young people to get involved in a program like this and they see the benefits every day.”

Kofa High School’s MCJROTC cadets have found discipline and leadership as they faced challenges head on in the crucible. With the support of their parents, the community, volunteers, and MCAS Yuma Marines, the MCJROTC cadets are able to push through the first year of the program and complete the first annual crucible. Their mental abilities, team work and leadership skills were put to the test and made it into a memorable event for all.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma