Riverhead Drill Team completes its annual inspection

COURTESY PHOTO | Cadet company Commander Corrine Matlak (front) and left to right, Katina Falek, Matthew Mulvaney and Jacqueline Cahil.

The more than 100 cadets of Riverhead High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps conducted their annual inspection and pass-in-review, a 90-minute event at the school gym on Jan. 13.

Led by platoon leaders Ensign Brian Weinhart, Ensign Darien Riley and Ensign Amanda Gallo, the cadets — after the playing the national anthem — passed in review before Superintendent of Schools Nancy Carney and other district officials as well as two science instructors and the visiting Commander John Skarin of the New York Navy district recruiting office in East Meadow, who conducted the inspections of each cadets stance, uniform and presentation.

There also were demonstrations of military drills by three teams: the first-year naval science squad led by Cadet JaWaun Kenreich; the Unarmed Team led by Ensign Matthew Mulvaney and the Armed Team led by Ensign Gallo, the drill team commander who attended the 2010 Leadership Academy in Newport, R.I. and graduated as top cadet out of 150 from all over the region.

The drill team won first place at both the William Floyd drill meet in November and the Southold drill meet in December, qualifying the team to compete in the northeast regional championships in May. This is the fourth year in a row the drill team has qualified for the regional championship.

Riverhead’s NJROTC Unit was started 37 years ago as a satellite of Southold’s unit, according to Riverhead commander Lt. Col Peter McCarthy, a retired Marine who is the unit’s instructor and who greeted the audience at the gym on Tuesday.

“The cadets have already accomplished quite a bit this year,” he said. There was a summer orientation before school started, field trips, color guards, parades, basic leadership training, a physical fitness test and many community service projects.  “There are a lot of people who come together to make this program work,” he said, “and we want to thank the administration for its support and the parents for being there with us.”

The cadet unit’s commander is Cadet Lt. Commander Corrine Matlak, a senior, a past winner of the exemplary personal appearance ribbon and the presidential fitness award. An honors student, Corrine organized a collection drive for the Convoy of Hope for Haiti Project last year. She is editor of Labyrinth, the high school’s literary magazine, vice president of the student government and a member of the National Honor Society.

Although several former Riverhead cadets have gone on to military service, the NJROTC program is not intended to encourage recruitment but to hone each cadet’s sense of worth and accomplishment. Master of ceremonies Cadet Joshua Bieling noted that the curriculum includes academic subjects, practical team building exercises, physical fitness programs, outdoor activities, marksmanship and many hours of community service. It also includes trips to military installations.

“The NJROTC program does provide an advantage for those seeking nominations to a service academy,” he added, “and those interested in qualifying for a ROTC college scholarship.”

An emphasis on accomplishment, teamwork, community service and personal responsibility are essentials of the program that knit cadets together, he added.

As Cadet Faith Tricarico put it in an article for Riptide, the student newspaper, “Everyone says we’re close in ROTC — and we are. We all say we’re each other’s family.”

A video of the event can be seen on line at