JROTC Cadets march through the Netherlands
“We have to make history,” Lt. Col. Demetrius Green said.
During Green’s first year at Hillsborough he showed his JROTC students things he had done while in the military, including a 100-mile march in Europe. This caught the attention of many students.
What started off as training before school and marching the Howard Frankland Bridge Saturday mornings, later became a 100-mile march. Initially there were about 25 students who volunteered but this number dwindled down to seven. This would be the first time that a high school from America would participate in the 25 mile-a-day excursion.
Students landed in Germany than took a bus ride to Nijimegen, a city in the Netherlands. “When we got off the plane we expected it to be hot but it was really cold the first few days,” Brianna Hernandez said.
On top of the windy weather they experienced, the group of Hillsborough students had four extra marchers join them because of the rule that they needed 11 in their group in order to march. “We had trained a certain way and had a different speed than they did so we had to adjust to different speeds so that we could make it on time,” Brianna Hernandez said.
Naturally, a trip like this would be very expensive and with the students not raising as much as they needed to, Green paid a lot of the bill out of pocket. “This is the first time some of them have ever left the city of Tampa, and I already promised them” he said.
For this reason after the four-day march there was also a couple days left for students to explore the area including visiting the a monument dedicated to the 82nd Airborne Division members killed in action in World War II.
Now that JROTC students have done this other high schools are wanting to join in on their next adventures. “Alonso already emailed me and said that whatever we do next they want in,” Green said.
While every student said that they wouldn’t do the 100-mile march again, there is talks of another march in Tennessee in April for a significantly shorter time. “You would think that it was easy because you’re just walking but it’s hard, especially when there are thousands and thousands of people it gets hot and crowded,” Hernandez said.