Lebanon’s Air Force Junior ROTC program was started in 1977 with about 50 cadets. Pictured are cadets in the first year of the program. CONTRIBUTED

Lebanon High School AFJROTC celebrates 40th anniversary

Lebanon’s Air Force Junior ROTC program was started in 1977. The unit, known as OH-771, was started with approximately 50 cadets.

Within just one year, Lebanon’s AFJROTC program was selected as an honor unit, meaning they had met a set of rigorous goals and requirements as set by the Air Force. This started a long and notable history for the unit as it has received many commendations and awards. Most recently, the group was recognized as a Distinguished Unit with Merit in 2014 and a Distinguished Unit in both 2015 and 2016.

The mission of the AFJROTC program is to “develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.” Discipline and citizenship are a primary focus of their lessons, activities and programs. Their dedication to their high school and larger community is evident when you take a look at the number of community service hours the cadets have performed.

Their goal for the 2016-2017 school year is 6,000 community service hours; in the second quarter grading period the students logged almost 2,000 hours at 56 different events. There are many groups, clubs and events in the Lebanon community that are on the receiving end of the group’s volunteer work and support. The unit received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level) in both 2015 and 2016.

The cadets in Lebanon’s AFJROTC participate in many other activities as well. Each summer cadets attend the Ohio Valley Leadership School. They also participate in many local parades and sporting events where the Color Guard presents the colors.

The OH-771 unit also has both Varsity and JV drill teams that compete alongside other JROTC units. More than 60 cadets are involved with the drill team, which is currently the reigning state champion for nine consecutive years.

There are 18 AFJROTC units in the state of Ohio and nearly 700 worldwide. Lebanon has 170 students who are in the AFJROTC program, which is currently led by Major Chip Parker and Senior Master Sergeant Eilene Nielsen.

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