ShareThis Page

Connellsville junior ROTC program a training ground

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Members of the Connellsville Area Senior High School Junior ROTC program pose for a portrait recently during training at the high school.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Three members of the Connellsville Area Senior High School Junior ROTC program include (from left) Tim Hensel, cadet major, battalion executive officer; Katie Bailey, lieutenant colonel, battalion commander; and Colt Miller, command sergeant major.

They are young, full of energy and express enthusiasm.

The 132 students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Connellsville Area Senior High School are not required to join the military, but some already are in the Reserves, and others are planning careers serving their country.

Katie Bailey, a senior and lieutenant colonel in Connellsville's Falcon Battalion, plans to join the Marine Corps and hopes to be an officer. She said the Junior ROTC program has taught her leadership, and she has found another benefit.

“I'm more outgoing,” said Bailey, adding that the program is a “new deal” at the school.

Bailey's said her grandfather served in the Navy. She was not sure when he served. He died several years ago.

Senior Colt Miller is the program's command sergeant major. He is in the Army Reserves and plans to go to college.

His grandfather, who died about 10 years ago, was the first sergeant in the Connellsville National Guard unit.

Bailey said students in the program benefit from the training, even if they do not go into the military.

“It's a great course,” Miller said. “It really can change a person if they have a difficult home life or are in trouble in school. (The program) is more to make you a better person. It teaches you to respect the American way of life.”

Tim Hensel, a senior and a major in the Falcon Battalion, has been through basic training with the Reserves. He plans to be a combat medic and wants to become an officer.

“I haven't decided on a career (after the military),” Hensel said. “I've definitely thought about becoming a doctor.”

Hensel, like Bailey and Miller, praised retired Army Col. Ulysses Winn and retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Cordier, the instructors for the program at the school.

“We couldn't have better instructors,” Hensel said.

Bailey, Hensel and Miller have been in the program since it started at Connellsville two years ago.

Hensel said the first level teaches students about the basics of the uniform and how to address soldiers of various ranks, as well as basic training in marching.

Levels 2, 3 and 4 are more detailed.

All three are at level 2. Students just entering as sophomores will be given the more detailed levels of instruction.

The students recently were given their ranks, which were decided by Winn and Cordier and included feedback from the students.

Cordier said he entered the Army in 1976 as an enlisted man, rising to the rank of staff sergeant before undergoing training as a warrant officer.

He was stationed at Fort Dix following basic training, then served at posts from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to Alaska, California, Texas and Korea. He attended a military school and trained in military intelligence.

Cordier retired from active duty in 1996 and came to the Pittsburgh area when he became involved in the Junior ROTC program. He has been posted to Oliver High in Pittsburgh, Clairton and then to schools in the Harrisburg area and in Maryland.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3538 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.