MOUNT VERNON — The Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit at Knox County Career Center is top notch: The Air Force conducted a formal review and evaluation of the unit on Oct. 9, and found it “exceeds standards,” the highest rating attainable.
“It was a very good evaluation,” said the program commander, retired Lt. Col. Chris Salvucci, “and we’re particularly pleased because the focus this time was cadet leadership and the cadets hit the ball out of the park.”
“The inspections only happen every three to four years so they’re like the Olympics,” continued Salvucci. “If we do well it’s a good feeling that lasts for years but if we do poorly it’s a bad taste that stays for a very long time. The inspections are time consuming and difficult. The inspector may have a background in supply so he will focus in that area or he may have a background in finance so he focuses in that area. We normally don’t know the inspectors, so we spend dozens of hours combing through years of data preparing for any possibility.”
In addition to evaluating the performance of the JROTC unit, inspector Peter Gray assessed its compliance with public law, Department of Defense and Air Force instructions and the written agreement with KCCC and the Air Force.
Notifying KCCC of the results on Oct. 16, Col. Matthew Anderer, director, Air Force JROTC, wrote, “The instructors [Salvucci and retired Chief Craig Cox] are highly dedicated, and create a dynamic and supportive learning environment in and out of the classroom. The cadets display exemplary pride, and their extensive participation in numerous school and community service projects is particularly impressive.”
Salvucci said the inspection, from the cadets’ perspective, was intense.
“They are required to provide the unit briefing without our assistance so the spotlight is on them,” he explained. “They realize they’re not just representing themselves but the cadets that led the unit for the past few years and those that will follow for the next few years. ... Fortunately the cadets performed masterfully. The cadet briefing is scheduled to last 20 minutes, but at 40 minutes we were still in the briefing because of the intensity of the questioning during the inspection. Every time the inspector asked a question I took a deep breath, but every answer the cadets provided was accurate and clearly explained. I honestly feel it was their strong performance during the briefing phase of the inspection that lifted us from a good grade to the highest grade possible.”
The inspector made special mention of the cadets’ focus, Salvucci said.
“Understanding he travels across the county evaluating units, it was nice to hear him say how impressed he was with the clarity of the future goals within our cadets. He commented that not only did they have a good idea for where they were going in life but how they were going to get there. He emphasized how refreshing it was to see students so well prepared for life after graduation.”
The inspector also told Salvucci he does not give many top scores.
“It takes a full team to reach the pinnacle of success,” Salvucci concluded. “We have received outstanding support from the KCCC administration and staff, we have received support from the home schools throughout the county, we have received support from local business and civic organizations, we have received superior support from the local Veterans organizations, and we have received ongoing support from the cadets — both current and former. I think the inspector could pick up on this overwhelming community support.”
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