A group of Central Crossing High School students are enjoying a huge honor. They're all members of the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, or NJROTC, and they just participated in ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.
There were only five high school ROTC groups in the country to be invited to attend. "It’s been quite the humbling experience to see the greatest generation that’s allowed us to be here this week," said Sergeant Major Donald Bocook, one of two program instructors on the trip. "We are so appreciative of the opportunity."
Bocook said the invite came after a previous trip to Hawaii. "We did a couple of visits to Pearl Harbor," he said. "The last time we were there was in 2016 for the 75th anniversary there. It was our performance at that ceremony and those events that got us the invite here two years ago to come to Normandy."
The cadets had the honor of marching in full dress uniform at three memorial ceremonies. They also met several veterans who landed on Omaha Beach during the united effort to push the Nazis out of France.
"It’s just really cool," said George Gibbins, a NJROTC Cadet. "Going into the cemetery... really solemn feeling everywhere. It really makes you kind of emotional seeing all the marble gravestones with the names on them. People a little bit older, if not the same age as me. Thinking about families who never got that letter home from their husband, their child or their brothers."
The cadets, their chaperones, and instructors return to Columbus Friday, June 14th, just before 5pm. They're hoping for a warm welcome home from the public.