Junior ROTC students put to the test in unexpected way



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Posted on April 28, 2010 at 5:53 PM

GRAHAM, Wash. - "He was bleeding through his boots."

It's a line that gets your attention, and it comes from Junior ROTC Cadet Riley Weik.

The bleeding was coming from fellow cadet Johnathan Rojas after two giant blisters broke inside his boots. He and other Cadets from Graham-Kapowsin High School were in a remote section of Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of a JROTC camp on Sunday.

Rojas couldn't walk.

Riley is a senior who will enter the Marine Corps in June and Rojas, who is a sophomore, is also considering the military. They were joined in their ordeal by sophomore Drake Figueroa and junior Carsten Armstrong in helping walk Rojas out of the woods to an ambulance some four to five miles.

The group was in contact with superiors on cell phones, but the meet-up with the ambulance took longer because of a mix-up on a meeting point.

"They took Mr. Rojas off his feet and started initial first aid, or buddy aid, and then got him back to the medical support staff, so we're very proud of just how the kids handled the event," said Michael Meray, a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer who started and heads Graham-Kapowsin's JROTC program.

Rojas says it's still sore to walk, and a trip to the hospital wasn't required. But the event brings to mind the creed of the group.

"Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage and things like that just motivate to help each other out," said Armstrong.

Meray says in the five years since Graham-Kapowsin started its JROTC program, more than ten percent of the students have entered the military.  But even for the majority who don't he says they learn a lot about leadership and comradery as they go forward in their lives. The school has sent one student to West Point.

"I plan to get into the Air Force Academy," says Figueroa, who is also a sophomore and hopes to become a flight surgeon. Figueroa was one of the cadets providing first aid.