About 30 members of the Central Regional High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps are back in school today after what can only be described as an experience and trip of a lifetime.

The high school students along with chaperones were in Honolulu, Hawaii for a “Welcome Home Vietnam War 50 Years” event that was hosted by the governor and the state of Hawaii to salute Vietnam era veterans from all 50 states, US territories and allied nations.

The Central Regional JROTC entourage participated in several events and this past Saturday marched in the official Welcome Home Parade in Waikiki. They also attended a dinner honoring POW/MIA, Medal of Honor and Gold Star families as well as a candlelight ceremony at Punchbowl Cemetery to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war.

Honolulu and Waikiki Beach were logical settings for the week-long welcome home event as for many Vietnam vets it was the last American soil they saw before heading overseas and the first upon their return.  Tragically some 47,000 Americans died in combat from 1955-75 and did not return home safely.

Under the direction of Senior Army Instructor Lieutenant Colonel Michael Tier and Master Sergeant Sherlock Grant the cadets had to raise around $75,000 for the trip.  The two instructors accompanied the group to Hawaii which included Battalion Commander Rachel Rowan and Command Sergeant Dan Roman.

According to the school’s website the JROTC helps students appreciate the ethical values and principles that underline good citizenship, develop leadership while living and working cooperatively with others.  It also makes them understand the importance of high school graduation for a successful future while learning about college and other advanced educational and employment opportunities.  Students also learn about military history and what purposes the military serves today.

This was clearly a school trip that served a purpose and provided these students with lessons they could never learn in a classroom.