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Sea Cadet continue training, prepare for 25th anniversary

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

 

Chennault Battalion USNSCC is a federally chartered program sponsored by the Navy and Coast Guard.

Congress provides funding to support national training and reduce costs to cadets, and the Military supports the NSCC by providing free or reduced costs to host training programs.  Many units are hosted by local military bases which provide them space to train, and many military personnel assists in the training.

The unit was formed in February 1995 in Lake Charles by James Dodd and his son Michael.   

By summertime, they had six cadets and by October they had the 25 cadets necessary to officially become a unit.  

The unit was commissioned “Chennault Division” on November 9, 1995. Chennault is named for Major General Claire Lee Chennault, US Army Air Services, US Army Air Corps, Republic of China Air Forces, US Army Air Forces 1917-1945, he established the American Volunteer Pilots serving in China known as the Flying Tigers, according to https://www.seacadetslc.org/

November 9, 2020, will mark the 25th Anniversary of the commissioning of the Chennault Division.  A ceremony is planned for the weekend of November 7, 2020. Details are not available at this time.

It is officially sponsored by the American Legion Post 1 Lake Charles and COL Jim Jackson.

Its current numbers are 12 cadets, 5 officers and 7 auxiliary, with many of the staff having served in the Military.  

“We teach cadets how to be better persons and learn military customs,” ENS USNSCC Leroy Spellman said in a phone interview. “We are also involved in veteran outreach and the Sheriff Department in Lake Charles teaches classes.”

The organization is not affiliated with any school district.

“We teach about anti-bullying and anti-drugs,” Spellman said. “We are all volunteers.”

The volunteers are retired military and vetted through background checks.

The program is open to kids between the ages of 10-18.

“This summer will be different,” Spellman said referencing the Stay At Home orders the area is under at this time. “We usually have training all summer and have an exchange program overseas for two weeks.”

However, currently, cadets are participating in online training and correspondent courses.

Many of the members who complete the program, go on to careers in almost every branch of the military.  Most recently, three graduates went on to college, Louisiana National Guard and three enlisted in the Navy.  One of its former members just signed to play football for the Air Force. It has had past members who are now officers in the Navy.  

“The program benefits them in many ways,” Spellman said. “Not only are they introduced to military life and leadership, but many branches will also allow them to enlist at an advanced paygrade.  Those who enlist in the Navy earn E‐3 right out of boot camp.”

All prospective Sea Cadets must be U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents and meet minimum age requirements (ages 13 through the completion of high school). Cadets must be unmarried, drug-free, and alcohol-free. Successful academic progress is required as well with at least a “C”-grade point average. Cadet applicants must complete a medical examination similar to a high school sports physical and submit proof of immunization against common diseases.

“I wish I knew about this program before I joined the Army,” Spellman said. “The summer training is on a military base and simulates the Bootcamp. Of course, it is scaled back but they get to experience it. There is no military obligation for participating.”

There is an annual fee of $200 for uniforms and a background check with a re-enrollment fee once a year after that.

“There is a fee for drills for $10 which pays for food and materials,” Spellman said. “We were scheduled to go to McNeese next month for swim qualification.”

For more information or to register to join, visit https://www.seacadetslc.org/