ANG Hosts 2011 West-Mitchell Invitational Drill Meet
By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin, 161st Air Refueling Wing
/ Published February 19, 2011
Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- Come rain, wind or shine the show must go on - at least for Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets competing in the 11th annual West-Mitchell Invitational Drill Meet.
Braving strong winds and intermittent showers, JROTC cadets from around Arizona, Nevada and Texas competed in multiple categories of drill at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix.
Units and cadets received evaluation under the categories of Color Guard, Four-Man Armed and Unarmed Regulation, and 10-Man Armed and Unarmed Regulation. The competition also featured an armed and unarmed drill down competition. A drill down is similar to the Simon Says game. Cadets follow a series of commands and those who miss a step are eliminated while those who follow the commands continue to compete until one person remains.
The popularity of the drill meet is becoming larger and more competitive than ever. Hosted by members of Sons of The American Legion Post One, the first West-Mitchell Invitational Drill Meet was held in the post's parking lot in 2000 and only four local Phoenix schools participated. This year, 27 schools with more than 1,000 students participated in the competition; vying for trophies and the bragging rights that go along with them.
Vying for one of those trophies was Cadet Col. Jake Suss, Deer Valley High School, Armed Four and 10 Person Exhibition Commander. Participating for his fourth year, he said, "participating in this competition gives me a chance to showcase my skills and compete against cadets from schools other than the Air Force [JROTC] schools that we are used to. [Competing in drill] really gives me something special. I'm not a football player - I'm a driller; this is my varsity sport. It also gives me a sense of pride, discipline and order."
Mason Mitchell, past commander of the American Legion Post One and one of the people the competition is named after, agreed. "[The competition] gives the cadets personal pride, as well as pride in the uniform and their school."
"Being able to be a member of the JROTC and competing like this gives students an opportunity to be part of something positive, and it has a positive effect on their lives," added Master Sgt. Holly Boudro, 161 ARW Retention Office Manager and senior coordinator for the competition.
During the closing remarks Col. Steven Balser, 161 ARW Commander, spoke to the cadets congratulating them for participating in the competition. "It was great to see the persistence that you showed today. All the training you did prior to the competition probably didn't prepare you for what you saw today - the rain, the wind, the echoes in the hanger when commands were called out, but you did a great job and you stuck with it. You're all winners in my eyes."