WAIMEA — Many people in the community have witnessed the performances of the Waimea High School JROTC specialty units like its Color Guard, Drill Team, Honor Guard, Saber Unit, and more during Waimea High School home celebrations, and community events like the recent Koloa Plantation Days parade.
Friday, these celebrity performers became people when the Waimea High School JROTC hosted an Open House for about a hundred people who wanted to know more about these motivated, enthusiastic, and disciplined students, capitalizing on the Admission Day holiday to allow the 135-member Menehune battalion an opportunity to stretch its wings and showcase its various sections.
“This event is open to the public, although the intended audience is both high school students, and students from middle school readying to enter high school,” said Kale Kakuda, the Waimea battalion Executive Officer. “We are also hoping to submit an article created by our Battalion Public Affairs Officer that provides insight for those who did not attend the Open House.”
Col. (Ret.) Vince Freeman, the Waimea JROTC Lead Army Instructor, said the Open House is entirely student-driven.
“They were the ones who came up with the event,” Freeman said. “They planned it through final briefing, and are running the entire event where those interested in joining the JROTC program can get more information, and in some cases, hands-on with the different equipment the students utilize in their programs.”
JROTC is not preparation for military service, Freeman said. Rather, it prepares student-aged citizens for life beyond home’s door, and for many of the students in this year’s program that include up to 135 students, this will probably be the only uniform they wear in their lives.
Among the people watching the specialty stations like the Drill Team, Staff Sergeant Micah Rapacon, stationed in Honolulu in Foodservice, and visiting Kaua‘i for the weekend.
A graduate of Waimea High School, Rapacon had a lot of pushback toward the JROTC program, spending just his freshman year as a JROTC before settling on a culinary pathway.
“I had a talk with Sgt. Major Kaimana Casteneda, one of three instructors for the Menehune battalion,” Rapacon said. “I also had some serious talk with my dad who was supposed to become a Marine. But he made some mistakes, and ended up stuck here. I did not want to be stuck here. I needed to do something to challenge me so I would not be stuck here, too.”
Source: The Garden Island