They were overshadowed by a really big ship and came out leaving a lasting impression.
Five cadets representing the Joshua High School Junior ROTC presented the colors Saturday as the nation watched the U.S.S. Fort Worth LCS3 become commissioned into the U.S. Navy.
"It was everything we could imagine it being," Master Chief Charles Linville said.
After serving for 30 years in the Navy, he got to witness a ship commissioning for the first time. It began with cadets under his leadership presenting the colors.
"There was so much Navy tradition," Linville said. "Our cadets just soaked it all in. They have been a buzz about it since we got back."
The entire experience was about all it took for members of the color guard to make a decision about their future, according to Linville.
Many of the Joshua JROTC cadets have said they were ready to join up, he said.
"All they seemed to be missing were the recruiters," Linville said.
While the mission of Joshua's JROTC is not to recruit cadets into military service, those who participated on the color guard couldn't help but be motivated.
"They got a full tour of the ship from a few master chiefs," Linville said. "It was a good experience for them."
The cadets also left an impression on active duty military personnel, according to Linville, who paused Tuesday to boast in reflection of their appearance.
"Without hesitation, I think I could say our color guard couldn't be topped if we brought in an active duty color guard," Linville said.
There's a few reasons for that, he explained. The Joshua JROTC color guard practices at 6:30 a.m. each day at the high school. It also has been invited to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth to fill in as needed for active duty color guards.
The invitation to present the colors Saturday came down to the unit's reputation, Linville said.
Back at JHS, the JROTC can claim four of the past five class valedictorians. In the past three years, the unit has also sent cadets to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., and has former cadets on ROTC scholarships at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas.
That's a reputation that has attracted the attention of military brass, Linville said, leading to the opportunity the color guard received Saturday.
"Our cadets really started the ceremony off properly," Linville said. "Sometimes, people have trouble believing our cadets are high school kids."
The Joshua JROTC cadets were provided the opportunity to meet military brass Saturday, but also met other dignitaries. U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, and Roger Williams, the GOP nominee for the Disrict 25 seat in the U.S. House, were in attendance and both on the platform stage. Williams served as the honorary chairman of the U.S.S. Fort Worth Committee. Granger was the congressional sponsor.
"We performed a full rehearsal with Rep. Granger present," Linville said. "She approached us and talked with our cadets."