As the school year approaches its halfway point, Porterville Military Academy (PMA) felt it was time to hold its first semester awards ceremony and Pass in Review.
A large crowd gathered at PMA on Saturday morning to watch this year’s group of cadets show off what they’ve learned so far, and join the school in recognizing a handful of selected cadets.
At 10:30 a.m. sharp the ceremony began. Cadet First Class Iyari Saucedo, a seventh grader in her first year at PMA, welcomed parents, friends and guests to the ceremony and asked them to silence their phones.
“Today’s ceremony is intended to be an opportunity for parents, families, and friends to experience military pomp and circumstance,” said Saucedo. “We will also recognize some cadets for their meritorious service, promote one of our cadet leaders, identify some accomplishments of the companies, and finally we will pass in review.”
Before the cadets marched onto the field, Saucedo concluded her welcome by inviting everyone in attendance to the Battalion barbecue immediately following the ceremony. She also stated PMA was honored to have Strathmore High School’s (SHS) marching band, led by drum major Allison Piersol and directed by former Marine Nicholas Walters, playing all of the music for the day’s event.
The SHS band played First Call, and Saucedo explained the tune was used to signal military personnel should prepare for assembly in formation.
“Today at PMA, the bugle calls signal the beginning of the day, chow time and completion of the school day,” said Saucedo.
The band played a few more songs, and by the time it was finished, all of the cadets had assembled on the field, grouped in three different companies, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie.
“Before we begin, we want to acknowledge the reviewing party and some distinguished guests,” said Saucedo.
Saucedo introduced the Reviewing Officer for the ceremony, Colonel Steve Buethe. She listed several accomplishments of Buethe and covered his time of service in the military. She then moved on to introduce each member of the reviewing party; Assemblyman Devon Mathis, Command Chief Master Sergeant Sandra Saynz, Juan Figueroa Jr., Dr. Nate Nelson, PMA Principal Doug Ihmels, Teri Irish, Captain Dave Archer and his wife Brooke, Sergeant First Class Hector Medellin and his guest Joanna Borquez, Porterville Mayor Martha Flores and PMA Battalion Commander and Cadet First Lieutenant Tristan Galvan.
Saucedo also recognized PMA’s school board members: President Lilian Durbin, Vice President Pete Lara, Donna Berry, James Carson, Felipe Martinez and Tom Velasquez.
After all of the introductions had been made, each of the cadet companies were called to attention, and presented their arms. The PMA guard presented the colors and SHS marching band played the National Anthem. Saucedo then turned the microphone over to PMA Battalion Commander and Cadet First Lieutenant Galvan so he could say a few words.
“Thank you for taking part of your day to help us celebrate our successes and for an opportunity for us to show off a little,” said Galvan.
Galvan spoke about the progress the first year cadets have shown since the beginning of the school year, and covered the challenges of becoming an official cadet.
“Those who haven’t experienced what it’s like to be a cadet might think we’re weird for volunteering for this, that we actually enjoy this, but as many military service members here can attest to, it’s tough, but it’s quite fulfilling,” said Galvan. “When you hear military service members say, ‘Embrace the suck,’ you know exactly what that means now. Know it or not, you now belong to a brother and sisterhood.”
He continued on to thank his fellow cadet leaders, teachers, parents and families. Lastly, he thanked everyone for attending again.
“Thank you again to everyone for attending our humble ceremony and helping to champion our mission and vision,” said Galvan. “Leaders forged here.”
Galvan reclaimed his seat to a round of applause, and Saucedo regained her position behind the microphone. She announced the ceremony would proceed to the awards portion. She called the following cadets to front and center; Cadet Corporal Elizabeth Mendoza, Cadet Corporal Lexy Asuncion, Cadet Corporal Jake Irrazary, Cadet Staff Sergeant Kyle Linsay and Cadet Sergeant First Class Samual Vargas. Captain Dave Archer, Sergeant First Class Hector Medellin and Galvan stepped forward to present the cadets with their award.
“These cadets are hereby awarded the Essayons Ribbon,” announced Saucedo. “The Essayons Ribbon is awarded to cadets who exemplify the motto of the California Cadet Corps through exceptional effort and commitment to the ideals of the Cadet Corps.”
As the cadets accepted their awards, the audience applauded. They were dismissed from front and center, only to be replaced by a second group of cadets ready to receive their own award. The following cadets were called to front and center to be recognized and given the Commandant of Cadets Citation Ribbon; Cadet Corporal Diana Rodriguez, Cadet Sergeant First Class Jayden Barnhart, Cadet Sergeant First Class Esteban Gutierrez, Cadet Sergeant First Class Elijah Mauck and Cadet Sergeant First Class Jasmine Gomez. Archer and Medellin passed out the ribbons to each cadet. The cadets returned to their specific spots with their companies on the field.
Saucedo began to speak about the responsibilities of a Senior Enlisted Advisor, the right hand person to every commander. The Senior Enlisted Advisor is tasked with providing clear and candid feedback, ensuring orders are carried out and provide guidance, among a slew of other tasks. She then explained the different levels among a platoon cadets have the opportunity to hold rank in.
“In the California Cadet Corps, the position of Command Sergeant Major is not a rank like it is in the Army and Marine Corps,” said Saucedo. “Cadets must attain the rank of Cadet Major Sergeant First Class, and then be appointed a Command Sergeant Major.”
Cadet Sergeant First Class Jasmine Gomez was called to front and center.
“PMA has had a cadet that has filled this position from the beginning of the school year,” said Saucedo. “Cadet Sergeant First Class Jasmine Gomez has met all the requirements to be promoted to the rank of Cadet Master Sergeant. She will first receive her third rocker and then immediately be pinned with the rank of Command Sergeant Major.”
Gomez, who couldn’t hold back her smile, received her rockers and pin and was officially announced as a Cadet Master Sergeant. Gomez is the first cadet to don this rank.
Once Gomez returned to her spot on the field, Saucedo announced each company was constantly in competition with each other, and it was time to award the top companies with streamers that hang from each of the company’s flags. Streamers were given out for the following categories; top academics, best attendance rate, total community service hours, total participation in extracurricular activities and the company with the highest number of honor unit points for the semester.
Bravo Company took the streamers for top academics, most combined community service hours and the highest number of honor unit points for the semester. Alpha Company took the streamer for highest attendance rate, and Charlie Company took the streamer for the most participation in extracurricular activities.
“We have two more awards we would like to give,” said Saucedo.
Walters and Drum Major Piersol were called to front and center.
“On behalf of all cadets and faculty at PMA, we would like to present Mr. Walters with a certificate of appreciation for your continued support,” said Saucedo. “For Ms.Piersol, since you have mastered this drill field, we would like to make you an honorary cadet sergeant and present you with a sergeant’s insignia.”
The two accepted their respective awards and returned to their spot on the field.
To bring the ceremony to a close, PMA cadets performed a traditional pass in review. Each unit marched passed the reviewing party and saluted. After all of the units had passed, the cadets were asked to change out of their uniforms and into civilian clothes to partake in the barbecue.
“Let the fun begin,” concluded Saucedo.