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Mooseheart NJROTC Shines
at Annual Military Inspection

By DARRYL MELLEMA, Associate Editor, Moose Magazine
Click Photo to Enlarge

U.S. Navy Cmdr. (Ret.) George Clifford makes a point to Mooseheart sophomore Brandon Gadson during the 2012 Annual Military Inspection. Clifford formally inspected Mooseheart's NJROTC on Thursday, Feb. 9.

The color guard from Mooseheart's NJROTC presents the colors during the National Anthem during the 2012 Annual Military Inspection at the school, which took place on Feb. 9.

The officers from Mooseheart's NJROTC stand at attention during the 2012 Annual Military Inspection. From left are seniors James Ranum, Corps Commander Cortney Heston and Mason Rueger.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. (Ret.) George Clifford speaks to the Mooseheart NJROTC cadets as well as the audience at the 2012 Annual Military Inspection. Clifford is the Area Manager of NJROTC Area 3, which includes 45 corps in seven states.

MOOSEHEART, Feb. 10 -  While there is never a time to look sloppy in a military uniform, there are certainly times when it pays off to look that extra bit sharper.

For Mooseheart’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) corps, that day was Thursday, Feb. 9, when the group stood for its Annual Military Inspection, given this year by U.S. Navy Cmdr. (Ret.) George Clifford, the area manager of NJROTC Area 3.

“It is special here at Mooseheart,” Clifford said. “You can feel the energy, the positive atmosphere and the nurturing and supportive atmosphere that is here. It is different and it is special and it is something that becomes a part of you as you come through the main gate here as you come onto campus.”

Clifford oversees 45 NJROTC units in seven states. He said that coming to Mooseheart is always a special experience for him. The NJROTC program is compulsory for all Mooseheart high school students. So in inspecting the Mooseheart corps, he was also getting a view of the entire high school student body. He handed ribbons to the students who scored a perfect 10 on their inspections.

“I sense a very enthusiastic and positive attitude on the part of the cadets here,” Clifford said. “They feel that they are part of the team and part of the family here. I think that they are working together to make the most of the opportunity that they have. You can see it in their performance.”

In the years immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., membership in ROTC programs increased across the country. Now membership is dropping off in some areas and budgetary scrutiny impacts on this area as with all areas of military spending. ROTC programs are funded by the Department of Defense.

“The Moose organization and Mooseheart High School provide an unparalleled level of great support to the NJROTC program,” Clifford said. “It is a level of support that is almost unmatched in my area of the upper Midwest.”

Mooseheart’s lead officer, U.S. Navy Warrant Officer (Ret.) Rick Smith, has emphasized many times that the purpose of NJROTC is not to create future sailors and other personnel of the U.S. Navy, but to instill in them certain values. He re-emphasized that point on Thursday.

“The core of everything that we do is Honor, Courage and Commitment,” Smith said. “Those are things that we try to relate to the kids. I think some of them are really picking up on that.”

Smith mentioned senior James Ranum as one student whose commitment to the NJROTC program has increased every year he has been in high school.

“When he was a freshman, he didn’t care about ROTC at all,” Smith said. “Today he worked with two drill teams and he was the Command Master Chief of the entire company. Not only does he have that position, but he performed today with those people and did really, really well.”

So the need to look good was important. U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. (Ret.) Ruben Hinton moved through the Mooseheart corps, adjusting a hat here, making sure everything was properly tucked in there.

“'Gunny' is definitely the force behind the ROTC here,” Smith said. “He doesn’t play around with little discrepancies. He makes sure everything is right all the time. It’s not ‘this is kind of the way you’re supposed to look.’ You look exactly the way you’re supposed to look. He was in the Marines -- and there’s no room for mistakes in the Marines, or people die.”

Next on the NJROTC calendar is the March 16 Military Ball. That annual formal dance has been enhanced this year thanks to a pair of large donations. The Aurora Council of the Navy League donated $1,500, while St. Charles, IL Lodge 1368 donated $900.

“We did the color guard for a benefit honoring the Pearl Harbor survivors for the Navy League,” Smith said. “It was a surprise and unexpected for them to give us $1500 and it was definitely welcome. We go with the band to St. Charles Lodge and do the colors there every year and for them to give us $900 was really unexpected too. Those donations are both very, very welcome.”

Founded in 1913, Mooseheart is supported completely through private donations. Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten through high school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. For information, visit or call (630) 966-2229.

Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.

Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.

Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 230 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.

In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.



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