Third Robertsdale High ROTC cadet receives high honor


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — For the third year in a row, a Robertsdale High School Naval Junior ROTC cadet has received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, the highest honor a Navy Junior ROTC cadet can earn.

Cadet Aidan Johnston was surprised with a ceremony at Robertsdale High School recently, among those in attendance were Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler, Mayor Charles Murphy and RHS Principal Joe Sharp.

Only two are handed out each year in Area 8, which includes 49 schools and over 5,000 cadets from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.

“For us to have three in a row is something I have definitely never heard of,” said RHS NJROTC Commander Frank Starr.

Cadet William Gage Doty received the award in 2019, while Cadet Keanan Ard was the award’s recipient in 2018.

The award is given each year by the Legion of Valor of the United States of America Inc., an organization made up solely of Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, and the Air Force Cross.

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. To be eligible for the Legion of Valor’s Medal of Honor, 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.

A letter addressed to Area 8 Commander Merlin Ladnier, signed by Starr and Sharp, states that they believe Johnston meets the high standards set out by the award.

“Cadet Johnston is absolutely worthy of inclusion in this select group and rightfully should be a serious contender for this year’s selection,” according to the letter which was sent in April.

Johnston is completing his third year in the NJROTC program, currently carries a grade point average of 4.05 in a college preparatory curriculum, is ranked in the top 6 percent in his academic class, had a composite ACT score of 32, an ASVAB score of 94, and is always at the very top of his NJROTC class, according to the letter.

He graduated from the National Flight Academy and Basic Leadership Training camps in both Tennessee and Florida. He is projected to attend Boys State this summer.

Johnston recently completed flight lessons to receive his pilot’s license and has applied for, and fully expects to participate in, the Airline Transport Pilot’s License program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The same program offered at Auburn University is his back-up plan and he intends to become a commercial pilot upon graduation.

Johnston has recently assumed the position of Battalion Executive Officer after serving as a Company Commander for three semesters where his company was routinely the best of the battalion’s six. He has played a major role in the unit submitting, in back-to-back years, the most points on the End of Year Report in unit history.

“When one imagines the perfect NJROTC cadet, Cadet Johnston is what comes to mind,” according to the letter. “He always sets the example and his uniform is absolutely beyond reproach. He is the first to volunteer for community service, accumulating nearly 250 hours in the past three years, and he is absolutely knowledgeable of all things NJROTC.”

As a member of the unit’s academic team, he was instrumental in the Brain Brawl team qualifying for the national championship after finishing second at the Area 8 Championship and for the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl team making it through two rounds; scoring 15 percent better than last year’s team. He also helped establish and served as the commander of the unit’s CyberPatriot team which finished fourth in Area 8.

As a member of the unit’s air rifle team, he served as the assistant commander where he qualified for, and participated at, the national championship in Arizona. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the school’s Scholars Bowl team.

“Cadet Johnston is extremely organized and is very dedicated to the unit and its teams,” Starr said. “He anticipates areas of concern and when cadets need help, he is there.  He does not merely accept responsibility, he seeks it out. He is driven in whatever endeavor he undertakes, and he is successful in all he does. He masterfully looks for the best cadet to accomplish the task at hand and he provides guidance and oversight as needed. His resume is that of an outstanding cadet in an outstanding unit and he is simply one of the absolute best cadets I have had in my 14 years of NJROTC.”