Juarez and Akins make ROTC history

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For the first time since the spring of 1996, the Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC program has had two cadets nominated to the same military academy.

Senior Erick Juarez and 2009 BHS graduate Derrick Akins have been nominated by U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

In 1996, Cadets Preston Laslie and Natalie Pope were nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they both graduated.

Cadet Akins applied and was nominated last year and was offered the opportunity to attend the U.S. Military Academy prep school in Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he is currently attending.

The nominations of Cadets Juarez and Akins is a critical step for the opportunity to be offered an appointment to West Point, the oldest of the service academies, having been established by President Jefferson in 1802.

BHS Air Force Junior ROTC program director Col. Gary Breedlove, who has had 10 cadets receive appointments to all three service academies in the 16 years of his program, talked about the many outstanding achievements of Cadets Juarez and Akins and how deserving they are of the appointments.

Cadet Juarez ranks No. 1 in his class and has been working diligently on his application process,” Col. Breedlove said. “That process includes requesting nominations from all five available sources, and he was nominated by all five.”

The five are Congressman Bishop, Georgia U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambless and Johnny Isakson, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Junior ROTC headquarters.

There has never been another Bainbridge High School cadet to receive five nominations to an academy, Col. Breedlove said.

Cadet Juarez also serves as president of the National Honor Society, is a four-year member of the Bearcat Marching Band and the cross country team and is a very successful competition drill team commander. Those are just a few of his numerous activities.

“Cadet Juarez will become our Junior ROTC Cadet Commander on Jan. 6, 2010, and will be responsible for leading the cadets through the very important headquarters evaluation in February 2010,” Col. Breedlove said.

Cadet Akins is now successfully completing the prep school curriculum, and serves in the squad leader position for his platoon. He was recently selected as the best squad leader in his platoon. His goal is to be platoon commander next semester. He is also a member of the prep school track team and maintains an exceptional physical conditioning program.

Col. Breedlove called Cadets Juarez and Akins two very outstanding young men who he would be very pleased to see as members of the West Point Class of 2014.

“Cadets Juarez and Akins are both a credit to their families, our school and our community,” Col. Breedlove said. “It is particularly significant that Cadet Juarez has secured five nominations for admissions. I have been impressed with him and Cadet Akins since they entered our Junior ROTC program. I would like to personally congratulate them on this very impressive achievement. I hope people who see them in the community will congratulate them also.”