Hill, Cornwell, Cole capture Montgomery ROTC Awards
Special to The Star
May 9, 2002
For the first time, all three of the G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery Outstanding Junior ROTC Cadet awards went to female cadets this year.
Cadet Varonica Hill of Meridian High School, Cadet Daphne Cornwell of Northeast Lauderdale High School, and Cadet Jonetta Cole of Kemper County High School were named as this year's top cadets from their respective school ROTC programs.
Montgomery, who established the annual award to honor outstanding Junior ROTC cadets from area high school units, presented plaques and praised each of the cadets and their commanding officers for their patriotism and dedication during ceremonies held recently at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.
Lt. Col. Truitt Breazeale, Commander of the Meridian High School ROTC unit, said, "Varonica Hill has been an outstanding leader and role model. It has been a pleasure to have her lead our battalion."
Hill said she was "very excited" to receive the award. While modest about speaking of her accomplishments, Hill's performance in her unit must have spoken volumes because she admitted that the other members said they knew she would win it.
Hill plans to attend East Mississippi Community College and pursue a career in nursing.
Commander Michael Josef, of the Northeast Lauderdale High School Naval ROTC unit, said, of his school's award recipient, "Cadet Cornwell is the type of person who sees a challenge and steps forward willingly to accept it. She also works well in a team environment and has been an inspiration to others in the unit."
When asked why she participated in ROTC, Cornwell said, "I joined the ROTC program because I thought it would be fun and different. I ended up working very hard, but also learned a great deal about myself … it helped build my confidence."
Following graduation, Cadet Cornwell has her sights set on pursuing a nursing degree at Meridian Community College.
Cadet Cole and Lt. Colonel Raymond Havron, Commander of the Kemper County High School ROTC program, could not be present for the award ceremony.
Principal Wayne Benn accepted the plaque on behalf of Cole, saying, "She is a model student and a shining representative of the Kemper ROTC unit. She's the type of individual anyone would love to have for a daughter."