PILOT MOUNTAIN — On Saturday evening, 100 Junior ROTC cadets gathered with their dates and families for a military ball at the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center here.
The ball has been an annual event since 1983, said 1st Sergeant Ron Montgomery. Out of East Surry’s total enrollment of 650 students, 25 percent participate in JROTC, according to Montgomery, who has been in charge of East Surry’s program for 17 years.
He was joined by Lt. Col. (R) Harry Patteson and keynote speaker Sergeant Major (R) Ezequial Evaro. After a few quick calculations, Westmoreland concluded that the three men have, between them, more than 100 years in the armed forces.
Cadet Major Joshua Westmoreland, also the Battalion Executive Officer for East Surry’s JROTC, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. Westmoreland, an 18-year-old senior at East Surry, has been in Junior ROTC for all eight semesters of his high school career. He has also reached the rank of Private 1st Class in the NC National Guard. He will ship out shortly after graduation, having completed basic training in the summer of 2017 between his junior and senior years of high school. He will also be attending East Carolina University where he has also been accepted.
Westmoreland said the military ball was one of Junior ROTC’s big events of the year. “We’ve been working at it for a couple of weeks, slowly chipping away at it,” he said. “We came up with a plan, and have coordinated with the deejay and the church.”
“ROTC motivates young people to be better citizens, and to be role models,” said 1st Sergeant Montgomery.
Sergeant Major (R) Ezequial Evaro gave the evening’s keynote speech. He enlisted in the Regular Army in 1958 and retired from active duty in 1985, whereupon he assumed the duties of Assistant Army Instructor at East Surry High School. He taught JROTC at the school for 17-1/2 years, retiring in December 2001. During his tenure at East Surry SGM Evaro worked with more than 1,000 students.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.