Program teaches leadership skills

Submitted photoThe U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Flying Tiger Squadron was recognized by Rep. Randy Frye at the Statehouse recently.

The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a youth development program for children 10 years of age through the completion of high school. The focus is on teaching cadets how to be leaders. Core principals begin with the Navy's core values: honor, courage and commitment.

Since October 2014, area youth have been involved with the Flying Tigers Squadron, which is sponsored by Prell-Bland American Legion Post 271, Batesville, and the Indiana Squadron of the Navy Club. "Currently, we have 23 on our roster," reports Michelle Novinger, the group's commanding officer.

"In order to qualify to be a sea cadet, children must be drug, alcohol and gang free, while attending school full time with at least a C average .... We drill one weekend a month, and the cadets attend trainings in the summer that last anywhere from nine to 14 days."

Cadets must attend at least 75 percent of drills, complete their coursework and attend trainings in order to be promoted. Each cadet begins as a recruit and is promoted through the ranks, including seaman apprentice, seaman, petty officer third class, second class, first class, then chief.

They "learn respect, responsibility, leadership, communication, etc." There is no commitment to the military afterwards, but "if they decide to join any branch of service after they graduate, they will go in at a higher rank and pay grade. My son joined the Navy and instead of going in as an E-1 (recruit), he is going in as an E-3 (seaman) and will make about $10,000 more a year because of it."

Sea cadets who join the military also have an advantage because "they already have completed the same coursework that the real Navy sailors complete. They already know what boot camp is like since they attended Sea Cadet boot camp. They already know about chain of command, how to march, etc.," the Milan resident points out.

Cadets also have the opportunity to attend summer and winter trainings, ranging from seven to 14 days, anywhere in the U.S. and also some foreign exchange opportunities. Some of them include recruit training (boot camp), public safety, SEAL training presented by former SEALS, aviation (ground school), Coast Guard training, construction (Seabee), culinary, Petty Officer Leadership Academy, EMT training, STEM/Seaperch/robotic/cyber, small boat operations, communication/electronics/radio, scuba certification, military police science, amphibious operations, submarine seminar, photojournalism and medical training.

The Sea Cadet Corps offered over 360 trainings this past summer.

During drills, participants train on a wide array of evolutions, including marching, culinary skills, amateur radio, rifle and pistol qualifications, sailing, basic seamanship, knot tying, winter survival, land navigation, field operations and flying.

They are also involved in other activities. Some of the events the Flying Tigers Squadron participated in were color guards at Wreaths Across America and the Freedom Foundation's Veterans Appreciation Event, helping the Osgood American Legion with their stillboard shoots, providing security for the Versailles Pumpkin Show Parade, marching in the Greensburg Tree Festival Parade, painting the torpedoes at the Milan Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and being involved in the Indy Honor Flight reception.

Even though she was never in the military, Novinger says, "I consider myself like a reservist since we drill one weekend a month." Her husband and two sons are also involved with the squadron.

This group is "elite, and I love the structure it teaches the cadets. I love how they learn respect and confidence in themselves."

She also enjoys "seeing the cadets grow and mature. They come in timid and don't know how to communicate with peers and adults and learn to look you in the eye and speak intelligently!"

For more information, persons can visit www.flyingtigerssquadron.us or call Novinger at 513-374-5378.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

First in a two-part series

Part 2: Cadets share what they have learned, Feb. 16

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