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Rio Rico High School JROTC Celebrates Awards Night

The evening began with the Color Guard’s presentation of colors.

The evening began with the Color Guard’s presentation of colors.

Over 180 national and institutional awards were handed out to 78 cadets as family, friends and RRHS JROTC graduates cheered on at the JROTC Annual Awards Night at Rio Rico High School. It was a night of pomp, celebration, change of command, and goodbyes.

The evening began with cadets marching by class into the gymnasium followed by the Color Guard’s presentation of Colors. Joanna Castro sang the National Anthem.

Chief David Koch and First Sergeant Larry Brown welcomed guests, and began the presentation of awards. Presenting National awards were dignitaries from the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonies, American Legion, American Vets, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

As is tradition, the event concluded with the Changing of Command. Outgoing Commander Ben Noriega ceremoniously transferred authority with the passing of flags to incoming Commander Gloria Contrearas. Noriega then addressed cadets, wishing them a prosperous and successful future.

“Success is how you define it,” said Noriega. “Be brave.”

As Koch closed the ceremony, he surprised everyone by turning to his cadets – to whom he referred as “near and dear to my heart” – and announced that he was retiring. He told them that, with their support, he had accomplished his goal of establishing the JROTC program at RRHS, and now he was proudly watching the first four-year-class graduate.

“My thanks to all the parents who supported our program,” said Koch turning to the audience. “Without you, we would never have had a program. To the presenters and supporters, thank you for your support, guidance and wishes.”

Following the RRHS graduation ceremony, Koch and his wife, Linda, referred to fondly by cadets as Mrs. Chief, moved to their ranch in Texas.

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