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The King George Navy Junior ROTC enjoyed a firsthand look and the Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Police Department and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 (EOD MU12), Dahlgren Detachment, during their visit to Naval Support facility Dahlgren on April 16.

The group of 39 cadets-freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from King George High School-made their first stop at the NSASP Police Training Center of Excellence, where they participated in physical training, negotiated a team-building obstacle course, learned firearms safety and marksmanship in the VirTra Systems training simulator, and practiced some basic police tactics.

As always, the police officers tempered the specific skills they taught the young people with one all-encompassing theme: the vital importance of teamwork. Cadets put that concept to work on the team-building course, where they helped each other through the obstacles, and in the training rooms of Building 217, where they practiced basic tactical skills like room-clearing.

Capt. Steven Mullen, training officer at the NSASP Police Department, quizzed cadets at the end of the event about what they liked and didn’t like about the training. The only complaint among the cadets was that they didn’t have more time to spend with the police. As for their favorite part, the consensus was that the training simulator, which may be described as an elaborate, purposeful video game, was loads of fun.

After a quick bus trip to EOD MU12 Dahlgren Detachment, EOD Techs briefed the students on what it means to be in the business of mitigating explosive threats and answered cadets’ questions. The queries centered on two themes: could they drive the robots and try on the bomb suit?

Here again, the cadets demonstrated a passion for video games. They used the gaming knowledge acquired in their lifetimes to good work, using video game-like controllers to expertly operate several types of bomb-disposal robots.

Trying on the bomb suit, however, came with one challenging stipulation: wearing the suit was contingent on cadets attempting one pull up while donning the heavy gear.

Though none were able to pass that particular challenge, the cadets cheered those who gave it their best. The group was all smiles as they ended their day with a meal at Gray’s Landing. For the many cadets who planned to join the military, the trip was a glimpse at some of the things they could expect.

“I absolutely loved the [police] training,” said Samantha, a junior whose father is a retired Navy EOD tech. “The simulator was really cool and it was fun to see my dad’s training pay off-he taught me how to shoot. It was cool to be able to do it correctly. And I loved EOD. It’s just fun and I loved seeing the robots.”

Samantha isn’t quite settled on whether she’d like to apply her language skills in the Army, Air Force or the Foreign Service, but she is keeping her options open. “I want to get one of the service scholarships,” she said. “I’m leaning toward the Air Force because I like their program. I’m also going to talk to a Navy recruiter about a language scholarship to learn more about it. If I could go Navy, I’d love to.”

Max, a senior, stood out among the cadets for the leadership and encouragement he demonstrated during the training events. He plans to use those skills to achieve a difficult goal. “I’m going to go to college and hopefully become a Marine officer,” he said.

Max participated in similar tours before at Dahlgren and had a hard time choosing his favorite part of the visit. “It was a mix between wearing the bomb suit and the police tactics training,” he explained. “I always enjoy coming down to Dahlgren, especially seeing the EOD guys. We get to play with the robots and this year, I got to put on the bomb suit.”

What is it like to attempt a pull up in a bomb suit? “The pull up was really difficult with the bomb suit because it’s an extra 100 pounds,” Max said, grinning. “I wasn’t able to do it, but I did run some laps in the suit.”

Fred Duckworth, commander of the King George NJROTC, said the visit was typical of the events cadets enjoy throughout the year. Duckworth thanked the police officers and EOD techs for making the trip possible and taking time to show cadets different aspects of the military.

Membership in the King George NJROTC is open to all King George High School students. For more information, email fduckworth@kgcs.k12.va.us.