Retired Vice Admiral inspects Gloucester NJROTC unit

by Kim Robins - Posted on Feb 13, 2019 - 02:48 PM

Photo: Retired Vice Admiral W.A. Brown talks with Charlie company commander cadet Donald Calder III during Brown’s inspection of the Gloucester High School NJROTC unit. Calder is headed to Brown’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute.

Retired Vice Admiral W.A. Brown talks with Charlie company commander cadet Donald Calder III during Brown’s inspection of the Gloucester High School NJROTC unit. Calder is headed to Brown’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute.

Photo: Retired Vice Admiral W.A. Brown talks with Charlie company commander cadet Donald Calder III during Brown’s inspection of the Gloucester High School NJROTC unit. Calder is headed to Brown’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute.

Retired Vice Admiral W.A. Brown talks with Charlie company commander cadet Donald Calder III during Brown’s inspection of the Gloucester High School NJROTC unit. Calder is headed to Brown’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute.

The Gloucester High School NJROTC unit received high marks from a high ranking Navy man during its annual inspection on Feb. 1. Retired Vice Admiral William Andrew “Andy” Brown conducted the inspection and was impressed by what he saw. 

Brown, who grew up in Gloucester and graduated from GHS in 1976, was an NROTC scholarship student at Virginia Military Institute. He was commissioned as a Navy ensign in 1980 and retired in 2017 as the Director of Logistics for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

During his 37-year Navy career, Brown also received his master’s degree in business administration from the Navy Postgraduate School and attended the Stanford Business School Executive Training Program. He has now returned to Gloucester while still serving as President and CEO of the National Defense Transportation Association. 

At GHS this month, Brown had a tour of the NJROTC classrooms, supply room and indoor rifle range before inspecting the 259 cadets in attendance. He also saw the cadets receive over 300 awards for accomplishments before grading their drill team, color guard and pass-in-review. All received the highest possible marks.

The unit also surprised Brown by bringing in three GHS alumni who are currently VMI cadets (Jonathan West, Jacob Hogge and Russell Simpson) and a Navy lieutenant (Ryan Aiken), who is also a GHS and VMI alumnus. All four assisted in Brown’s inspection. 

After the inspection, Brown lunched with top cadet staffers and school officials in the dining facility hosted by the GHS culinary arts program. The cadet commanding officer Kaitlynn George and her cadet executive officer Sarah Wicker talked with Brown about their unit and answered his many questions during the lunch break.

After lunch, George and Wicker joined their master chief petty officer Jack Jenkins and cadets Laine Fortin, Brooke Cheatham and Donald Calder III, the commanders of Alpha, Bravo and Charlie companies, respectively, in providing Brown with a briefing on the unit’s goals, organization, leadership and accomplishments to date. 

George and Wicker said the cadets put much work into preparing for the inspection. “We spent many late days prepping our brief, pushing our cadets, and working together to get the job done,” they said, adding that the feedback they received was overwhelmingly positive and kind. 

“It is rewarding to see the support our cadets have from the program, the school, and the community. Having our community’s support for what we do and what we promote means everything to us. We will continue to promote the values of honor, courage, and commitment in our unit as we still have work left to do,” they said. 

A week after the inspection, Brown said he was “very impressed by the professionalism on display by every student, particularly the seniors who pointed out that the program is student-run. The support from the NJROTC instructors, principal, vice principals and the school board was apparent as well.

“When I talked to the cadets during the inspection, nearly every one of them had some idea of what they wanted to do after they graduate from high school,” Brown continued. “This reflects some of the tenets of the program that teach young adults to think ahead and to understand the pros and cons of the decisions they make. 

“Seeing those cadets and knowing what they are achieving on a daily basis makes me optimistic for the future leadership of our country. These young adults will be leading us to 2050 and beyond. 

“Gloucester should not only by proud of the size of the NJROTC program, but also the outstanding quality of the program. If I could ever help one of our cadets in any way, I would do so without hesitation. They are a great team and support each other in positive ways,” Brown said.