Memorial’s NJROTC makes the grade

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


Excellence deserves to be recognized — especially when that excellence comes as a result of hard work and practiced discipline.

The Port Arthur Memorial High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps received an “Outstanding” rating on its Annual Military Inspection for Spring 2018.

The inspection evaluates students on basic NJROTC knowledge and skills, as well as grades the overall program. The area NJROTC commander evaluated students.

It is the third consecutive time the school and its cadets have achieved such a rating under the sole command of Chief John Martin.

“I brought the program to the school in 2008. Really, my goal was to create productive citizens,” Martin said. “We teach citizenship, leadership skills and how to be productive.”

Martin explained that everything in the NJROTC curriculum from basic drills to administrative documentation and accounting have gone toward achieving these goals — and toward achieving the Outstanding rating.

“The presentation for the area commander has to go through everything,” Martin said, “including going over their goals for expectations of the program.”

Memorial High School’s NJROTC as under Spring 2018 military inspection from the area commander. (Courtesy photo)


Among goals: college, military

Martin said training at Memorial encompasses many goals that help ensure students meet or exceed their aims for the program, including going to a four-year university and/or joining the military.

Stephanie Benitez is a senior and has been enrolled with the NJROTC since her freshman year. Her older sister had been enrolled in the program and was the one to introduce it to her.

“After she did, I definitely wanted to do it for myself,” Benitez said.

She is the current commanding officer of Memorial’s NJROTC unit.

Benitez plans on enlisting in either the Navy or Air Force after she graduates.

“My dad told me about it and I tried it out,” David Hoffpauir, sophomore and second-year cadet, said. “Everyone here is family and everyone sticks together.”

Hoffpauir intends on becoming an Army paratrooper after he finishes high school.

“It’s helped me in a lot of ways,” Eddie Richards, junior and third-year cadet, said. “It’s helped me learn leadership and doing activities that build confidence … It’s something that’s beneficial in anything.”

Richards wants to become a weapons specialist for the Navy after he graduates.

During the summer, NJROTC students engage in leadership training. Richards said they get the opportunity to teach the next generation of cadets what they’ve learned by becoming leaders themselves.

(Left to right) Commanding officer Stephanie Benitez, Chief John Martin and Navy sailor Jennifer Barrera stand together in the CATE building at Memorial High School. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)


All must achieve

Jennifer Barrera is a Memorial graduate and completed her NJROTC training before enlisting in the Navy. She was originally recruited in the junior officers program by an executive officer who paid her a house visit.

Barrera, 19, emphasized the leadership mindset she’s learned both in the NJROTC and in her first year with the Navy: If one person fails, then the whole team fails. Thus, excellence must be achieved by all.

“The program taught me a lot,” Barrera said. “Military bearing, discipline, following orders, chain of command and rank and recognition.”

“We teach them to be a productive citizen and to be active in the community,” Martin said. “We do community service, do everything with the school and create community support.”

Barrera said she considered the students of NJROTC — and those of the Navy as a whole — as her family.