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First Sgt. Thomas Russi, first sergeant for Company A, Headquarters Battalion, asks a cadet about elements of the California Cadet Corps emblem on the student’s cover during a uniform inspection demonstration conducted at Twentynine Palms Junior High School.

Photo by Diane Durden

Combat Center Marines connect with ‘next generation’

11 Mar 2011 | Diane Durden

For decades, Marines have passed their knowledge and experience from one generation to the next. Older, more seasoned Marines teach and mentor younger Marines as they make their own way through the ranks.

Headquarters Battalion Marines went one step further, reaching out to yet an even younger generation, by participating in the CACC class conducted at Twentynine Palms Junior High School in Twentynine Palms, Calif., March 2, 2011.

The CACC was founded in April 1911 when the California High School Cadet Act created a statewide organization for all secondary schools. Its original purpose was to prepare commissioned officers for service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Today’s mission emphasizes quality educational and leadership development aimed at preparing students for success in college and the work force.

The CACC class at Twentynine Palms Junior High School, an elective class available to both 7th and 8th grade students, has been offered at the school more than 30 years. Science and personal finance instructor Ted Luke remembers the class being part of the curriculum when he was a student at the school in 1983.

“I wished I’d have taken the class then,” said Luke, who is temporarily filling in as the instructor for CACC the class’ regular instructor, Capt. William Morton.

The curriculum emphasizes instruction in patriotism, proper care and wear of the uniform, marching, survival skills and navigation. The HQBN Marines joined the class to teach basic drill and uniform inspection techniques.

“It’s a ridiculously good feeling working with kids,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron Piggee, an administration clerk with the Installation Personnel Administration Center.

Marines first demonstrated a few basic drill movements, beginning with the positions of “attention,” “at ease” and “parade rest.” Students also learned facing movements and “fallout.”

Each Marine then worked with a small group of students for more individualized instruction.

Before the end of class, the cadets played a quick game of “knock out,” a game where competitors perform various facing movements. Cadets were “knocked out,” or eliminated, for incorrect movements, such as facing in the wrong direction, starting the movement too early or not moving at all. The game continued until there was only one student left.

“You just have to remain calm and think before you move,” said 8th grader Lauryn Cabanlit after outlasting her classmates in the game.

The hour-long class ended with handshakes and high-fives as the cadets thanked the Marines for their time. Both cadets and Marines said they are looking forward to next time.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms