Robertsdale High ROTC cadet receives high honor

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/29/18

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Keanan Ard thought it was just another day when he arrived at Robertsdale High School on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

But when he got to his NJROTC class that morning, he discovered …

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Robertsdale High ROTC cadet receives high honor

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ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Keanan Ard thought it was just another day when he arrived at Robertsdale High School on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

But when he got to his NJROTC class that morning, he discovered that it was anything but an ordinary day. There he found the school’s principal, Robertsdale’s mayor, the Baldwin County school superintendent and members of his family were all there for him.

They were there to honor the Robertsdale High School senior with the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement award, the highest honor an NJROTC cadet can earn. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

“This is what I’ve been working toward the last three years,” said the Robertsdale resident. “I came in three years ago with the goal of getting the most I could out of the high school experience and this award shows that I’ve achieved that goal.”

Provided by the Legion of Valor of the United States of America Inc., an organization made up solely of recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross, the award is given to just two cadets from each of the NJROTC’s 11 districts nationally each year. Ard is actually the only cadet this year representing Area 8, which includes 49 schools and over 5,000 cadets from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.

To be eligible, nominees must:

•Be a member of the junior class and enrolled in his/her third year of NJROTC.

•Have an NJROTC class standing within the top 25 percent.

•Have a school academic standing in the top 25 percent of the junior classs.

•Have demonstrated outstanding military leadership qualities.

According to NJROTC regulations, nominees are recommended to their respective Area Manager who can select only two cadets per year.

Ard was recommended for the award by former RHS NJROTC Senior Instructor, Lt. Col. Scott Meehan.

“He’s the one that told me about the award and wrote a letter (to the Area 8 Area Manager Commander Merlin W. Ladner), recommending me for the award,” Ard said. “Without him, this would not have been possible.”

Heading into his senior year, Ard is ranked No. 4 out of 312 students at Robertsdale High School with a GPA of 4.29 and currently serves as the Battalion Executive Officer, making him the second senior cadet responsible for over 170 cadets.

He is heavily involved in community serve and is a member of the unit’s drill and orienteering teams. He is also a member of the school’s National Honor Society among other endeavors.

“Today marks yet another historical event as no Robertsdale High School NJROTC cadet has ever received this award,” said RHS NJROTC Senior Instructor Lt. Commander Frank Star. “Clearly he has been instrumental in the success of this program.”