The Pentagon Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps and Navy League Cadet Corps held its annual inspection Jan. 19 at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in a ceremony that also featured promotions, awards and an impressive drill team exhibition. The inspection was conducted by Cmdr. Elvis Mikel, executive officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac and the ceremony's guest speaker.
The Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Navy League Cadet Corps are sea services-themed organizations for young people ages 10 to 18 that emphasize community service, teamwork, citizenship and discipline. Naval Support Activity South Potomac hosts Pentagon Division for its monthly drill weekends and activities.
"Thank you everyone for inviting me to this event today and allowing me to participate in the inspection," Mikel told the instructors, cadets and parents. "NSA South Potomac has a long history of supporting the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Navy League Cadet Corps. We're very happy that you have chosen to meet, train and to have your events here at Dahlgren. It brings a lot to the base. All of the active duty personnel love seeing the young faces, the enthusiasm. It really puts a smile on our faces as we go through our day to see you interest when you come aboard. We've very proud of [Pentagon Division]."
Mikel praised Pentagon Division for the qualities it helps instill in young people. "It is vitally important that organizations like the Sea Cadets help foster leadership abilities, broaden horizons, provide hands-on training, and bring young men and women and their families information about maritime life and seagoing skills," he said. "It's [also] a lot of fun. The patriotism, courage and self-reliance they teach is vitally important for young people as they grow up and become the citizens we all need them to be."
Inspections offer important lessons about achieving success in life, Mikel told the cadets. "One thing in life that you'll learn, something that is illustrated by the inspection, is attention to detail. That's one of the first things you learn in the military: If you can focus and complete all the small tasks, the large tasks tend to take care of themselves. That's what the personnel inspection does. it helps focus your attention on the details and helps accomplish the mission. That is a skill that will serve you as you go through life."
Mikel thanked instructors and parents for their efforts supporting Pentagon Division. "I'd like to thank the adult leadership, the officers of the unit, for providing the activities and organization. Without them, this would not be possible. I'd also like to thank the family members-the mothers, the fathers, the uncles, the aunts, the grandparents-who help support the event program. Without your support at home, that success wouldn't be there. Thank you for your support."
The positive impacts of the program were evident during the inspection itself, as the young people stood in formation in crisp uniforms that they prepared themselves. "Cadets, you look great, sound great, you've got confidence and that will help take you a long way in your future," Mikel told the young people. "Well done."
Benjamin, a 10-year old member of the Navy League Cadet Corps, admitted he was a little nervous "at first" about standing his first-ever inspection. "After we practiced a few times, it wasn't that bad," he said.
The parents of other 10-year olds might be surprised at the skills Benjamin learned and used to prepare for the inspection. "For the inspection, I washed my shirt, dried it and then ironed it," he said. "My pants already had creases in them, so they were okay. I got a lint roller and rolled all my clothes."
Benjamin's mom, Liana Jones, said he decided to get good grades, stay physically fit and develop his foreign language skills at a young age so he could one day join the Navy. "He said he could give two years to his country and they could pay for his college," she said. "So [Benjamin] has a plan. He was very excited to join the Sea Cadets."
Benjamin's first five months with the Pentagon Division has been an inspiration. "It gives him structure," said Jones. "It's something he looks forward to every month. He's dead tired when he gets home on Sunday after drill weekend, but he can't wait to tell me everything that he did."
Jones said she's proud of Benjamin and appreciates the skills and motivated attitude he's developed with the Pentagon Division. "He actually puts his stuff from the Sea Cadets away," she said, smiling. "Not his regular clothes yet, but we're working on that little by little. He can actually clean up his shoes. He's also learning how to work as a team. He likes the challenges and he's thriving on this."