BARNEGAT, NJ – The Barnegat Board of Education reserved a portion of its agenda earlier this month to honor Cadet Commander Mary Cordi, a member of Barnegat High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Chief Warrant Officer James Mackey, who serves as the Naval Science Instructor for the Barnegat High School’s Junior ROTC, read from a citation awarding Cordi an NJROTC Cadet Achievement Ribbon.
“This citation is a very rare honor that is reserved for very few cadets and units each year,” shared Mackey. “It is earned by a cadet who distinguishes him or herself by outstanding achievement or sustained superior performance.”
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“The cadet must exhibit exceptional military aptitude and dedication to the program, as well as an overall excellence in all facets of NJROTC awarded on a case-by-case basis by the area manager,” Mackey continued.
According to Mackey, Jimmie Miller, NJROTC Area Manager, awarded Cordi the distinction after conducting a recent inspection of the Barnegat program. The cadet achievement ribbon acknowledges Cordi’s role in the performance of each and every cadet, as well as “her excellent and accurate briefing of the unit’s accomplishments despite the COVID pandemic.”
The area manager’s inspection included a review of daily standard operating procedures, organization risk management plans, and the safety of cadets. Cadets underwent verbal testing regarding their Navy knowledge and curriculum program.
“Cadets were front and center for a formal navy uniform inspection that was second to none,” said Mackey. “Cadet Cordi, her cadet staff and the corps of cadets made this year’s annual inspection a success.”
Cordi, 17, joined the Barnegat Junior ROTC in her freshman year of high school. Her inspiration came from two important family members. Cordi’s grandfather was a Vietnam veteran; her mom participated in Southern Regional High School’s ROTC program.
“There’s an enormous sense of camaraderie about the program,” Cordi shared. “You always hear that the friends you make in the ROTC will be with you beyond high school. I have a feeling that I’ll find this to be true.”
Members of the ROTC program attend elective courses where they learn about Navy history and core values of honor, courage, and commitment. On Wednesdays, cadets come to school in uniforms and go through military inspections to ensure they follow dress codes. They also participate in physical training exercises.
“A lot of what we learn in the ROTC is self-discipline and integrity,” explained Cordi. “The Junior ROTC is more of a citizenship program than a military one. It teaches people on necessary life skills, including leadership.”
“My goal as the person in charge is not only to bring the unit together but also to build up those younger than me,” Cordi continued. “That way, when they’re in my position over the next year or two, I’ve left them with the necessary skills to learn and grow.”
Cordi heads off to Manhattan College in the fall to major in Biology. She plans to be a pediatric surgeon when she completes her education.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis congratulated Cordi for her achievement, describing her as a “very impressive young woman.” He also passed on some additional words of gratitude after announcing the program received an above-average grade after Miller’s inspection.
“I think that’s a true testament to the young men and women who are in the program, and to the administration, and the Board of Education that supports the program,” said Latwis. “Nobody has a bigger impact than Chief Warrant Officer James Mackey… We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him as part of our Barnegat family taking the lead on running the Junior ROTC program.”
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