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D-B Air Force JROTC earns another Distinguished Unit Award

MARYBETH McLAIN • May 11, 2018 at 2:02 PM

KINGSPORT — The Dobyns-Bennett High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps has earned the Distinguished Unit Award (DUA) for the 2017-2018 school year, the 11th consecutive year to receive such honor.

Of those 11 DUAs, three previous awards were designated “with merit” as the result of an onsite program evaluation. The DUA is the highest level unit award for AF JROTC programs awarded by AF JROTC Headquarters, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

This award places Dobyns-Bennett in the top 25 percent of the 900 AF JROTC units in the world.

“These awards recognize the personal growth and accomplishments of the cadets, the contributions of the instructors as mentors of the cadets and the support of the school and community,” wrote Col. Paul Lips, AF JROTC director, in his congratulatory letter to Col. Eric Vogt, U.S. Air Force (Retired) and Chief Master Sgt. Melanie Blankenship, U.S. Air Force (retired), D-B’s aerospace science instructors.

All first- and second-semester D-B cadets will receive the DUA Ribbon for their uniforms, the guidon (or unit flag) will have another streamer added and D-B will retain its designation as an Honor Military School for the 2018-19 academic year.

“Our staff and student leadership have worked to provide a program of excellence with very high expectations and strong character development,” said D-B Principal Chris Hampton. “Earning the unit of distinction status for every year of our existence is quite significant to our program and AF JROTC community. This program provides outstanding leadership and academic opportunities that will serve students well in their future endeavors.”

For the current school year, D-B cadets have performed 76 service events totaling more than 2,500 hours and supporting the community with color guards, ushers, event assistance and cleanup projects.

Since the D-B AF JROTC program was established in 2006, more than 550 D-B students have participated in at least one semester. Of the D-B cadets who were active all four years, approximately 9 percent joined the officer or enlisted ranks of the Armed Services. Former D-B cadets are currently on active duty with the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. There are also JROTC graduates attending the Air Force, Naval and Merchant Marine Academies.

This year’s D-B AF JROTC graduates include several cadets who have formally committed to joining the military: Army (Riley Craig and Michael Young); Air Force Academy (Mason McDougal), and University of Tennessee, Knoxville on a four-year AF ROTC Scholarship (Andre Chikomb).

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