By Jeff Keeling
Science Hill High School Junior ROTC commander Col. Mike Johnson knew sophomore cadet Tam Le was very good at drill routine. When a group of cadets recently traveled to Army Junior ROTC nationals in Louisville, Ky., Johnson found out just how good the Cadet Sergeant Major really is.
Le, who moved to Johnson City from Vietnam six years ago, bested hundreds of cadets competing in Louisville to claim the national championship in Armed Individual Standard Drill. Hers was one of just two individual national championships awarded.
“It is absolute precision – there’s no room for error,” Johnson said last Thursday morning during the Chamber of Commerce monthly membership breakfast, where Le was recognized for her accomplishment. “If your heels are just a quarter inch not aligned, you’re gone.”
Active duty drill sergeants judged Le and the other competitors during the drill routine, which consists of standard marching, weapon movement and turning. Competitors were members of the 70 teams, out of 1,700 nationwide, that qualified for nationals. Science Hill finished 12th as a team in Exhibition Individual competition and 19th in Armed Platoon competition.
Le, who carries a 3.9 grade point average, said she didn’t know she was winning until her championship was announced over the loudspeaker. She called Science Hill JROTC “a very good program. It’s helped a lot of kids learn to improve themselves.”