S. Ga. AFJROTC commander is unique - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

S. Ga. AFJROTC commander is unique

Thomasville- The AFJROTC commander at Thomasville High School isn't pushing his cadets into military service. Instead, he's giving them the structure without strings attached.

     The ROTC cadets at Thomasville High School are all in the same unit. But they're not all there for the same reasons. "I'm hoping to go into the air force or marines," says Cadet Elisha Chambers. "I'm trying to get a scholarship to college," adds Cadet Emily Ballard. "It'll help me out in sports," says Cadet Ladarius Hall.

     But their reason for being there doesn't matter to Sergeant J.D. Packer. "Most people think we're here to enlist them in the Air Force, or other branches of the service. But we're not. Our main goal is to make them better citizens," he says.

     Packer does that by teaching these cadets respect, teamwork, and above all, discipline. And that's the Sergeant's specialty. "We try to instill in them the philosophy you have to learn to respect people. And have self discipline to succeed in life," says Packer.

     No matter how hard Sergeant Packer is on these cadets, they know it's for their own good, now, and later in life. "You learn respect, and you learn that you're part of a team. You aren't working by yourself," says Chambers. "If you listen to what they're trying to give you, it'll be easy," adds Cadet Whitney Turner.

     Even when he has to yell at the top of his lungs, Sergeant Packer knows he's doing these cadets a service. "It's more so an attention getter. But I've found over the years, it's kind of a scare tactic," he says. Call it the toughest kind of love.

     Sergeant Packer says it's hard to teach teenagers the morals he's trying to instill. But he adds that his cadets are top-notch, and that teaching them real values is an indescribable feeling of accomplishment.

Posted by stephen.ryan@walb.com

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