By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday, the Crescenta Valley High School JROTC program celebrated 25 years of service at a banquet at the Angeles National Golf Club.
The Air Force JROTC was started in 1988 at CVHS by aerospace science instructor and Air Force veteran Sgt. Earl Hintz. The program was the second established in California.
Vartan Kerasimian was a JROTC cadet at CVHS under the guidance of Hintz. He spoke at the banquet of what the program was like under his leadership saying that Hintz built the program on the foundation of lead by example, do the right thing and live by the core values.
“He lived with integrity, service and excellence,” Kerasimian said. “His voice would stick in your head.”
Kerasimian served in the military and now volunteers to assist JROTC’s drill and ceremony cadets.
He joked about the cadets’ trips in Hintz’s Toyota pick-up truck, which they would call the Sgt. Mobile.
Earl passed away last year. With David on Saturday was Jane, Earl’s wife, along with daughter Lois and husband Darryl Salaz. They came to honor the program Earl loved and devoted his life to.
“This [program] was his whole life,” Jane said. “He devoted many, many hours to the [JROTC].”
The cadets who joined the program in those early years were a very select group of people, David said.
“We still hear from many of them,” Lois added.
“Many came to [Earl’s] funeral,” David said.
And many were at the banquet on Saturday. They stopped by to say hello to the family. Jane remembered each cadet and was thrilled to see him or her.
A scholarship was set up in the name of Earl Hintz. Cadet Major Gloria Han, a CVHS senior, and current JROTC instructor/mentor Lt. Col. Dave Worley made the announcement and presented a framed certificate to the Hintz family.
The scholarship will be cadet-funded and the cadets will select the annual recipient.
The JROTC program has continued under the leadership of Worley and has become a leading community program. Cadets keep a very busy schedule, not only at traditional ceremonies like Veterans and Memorial days but at official meetings of the Crescenta Valley Town Council and at school events.
The goal of the program is not training new military personnel, which is often a misconception of the program, but training new leaders. Most of the cadets who go through the program do not join the military.
Rick Arvizu was in JROTC for all four years of high school. He was at the banquet to honor not only the program but also the values he learned from Worley. He is now a semester away from graduating from college and has been trained to be an investigator of downed aircraft, which is not part of the military.
Alayna Leibman was also a cadet with JROTC. She is now in college working toward a degree in communication.
“The [JROTC] helped me with public speaking,” Leibman said.
Although most cadets do not end up going into the military, the program is based on military discipline and tradition.
The CVHS JROTC does more than just perform the colors but also presents a MIA/POW [Missing in Action/Prisoner of War] table. The very moving ceremony was presented at the banquet. Each item that is placed on and around the table, from the tablecloth to the one lone chair, symbolizes the remembrance and plight of those MIA/POWs and their families.
With every ceremony and tradition, the cadets learn about integrity and respect, not only for others but also for themselves. During the keynote address, Col. Arthur Hopkins shared five important traits that he learned in his 28 years in the Air Force – traits that he lives by.
“Treat people with respect, the way you want to be treated,” he said. “Set the example. Have courage, moral courage. Doing the hard right instead of the easy wrong. “
He added the fourth trait is to provide opportunity for people to succeed. And the last trait is to be trustworthy, to gain the trust of others and to let them trust in you.
The five traits fit perfectly with the foundation of JROTC and those values will continue to be woven throughout the program and, together with the solid mentorship of the past and the present, will keep JROTC strong for the next 25 years.