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Retired helicopter pilot leads MHS JROTC

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Retired helicopter pilot leads MHS JROTC

Cadet Battallion Commander, MHS senior Sean Skelly has been in the schools’s JROTC for the past four years. Sitting behind him is “Chief” David Torres, a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer.

GLENN KAHL/The 209


POSTED March 24, 2012 1:32 a.m.

Cadet Battalion Commander for the JROTC unit at Manteca High School, Lt. Col. Sean Skelly, leads nearly 80 members of his unit in building character and performing community service.

“It is a leadership class,” Col. Skelly said of the elective that has more boys than girls within the  ranks.

 The lead instructor is David Torres, a retired Army helicopter pilot who served as a chief warrant officer. The students referring to him as “Chief.”

Skelly said the tenets of the organization are to instill loyalty, duty, respect, service, honor, integrity and courage in its members.

Torres said educators and the cadet leadership strive to provide a safe environment, not putting anybody down, and attempt to put everyone in a leadership position to give them a feeling of empowerment.

Sean conducts staff meetings every week, meets with his team commanders and company commanders.  “Chief” said he and the other instructor Henry “Top” Benaventi want the unit to be cadet run and they try to let them have the appropriate amount of control.

“It’s a great organization with the things you get to do and the people you meet,” Skelly said.  “We do Flags Over Manteca, football games, color guard presentations and I’m actually part of that team as color guard master – on the team for four years.

He is planning to go to Modesto Junior College next year.

 “We have 78 cadets; we are not a recruiting station,” Skelly said. 

Only about five percent of those in JROTC have actually joined the military. 

“We promoted education more so than the military and we keep our options open,” Skelly said.

Skelly said he has seen improvements in cadets coming into the program with a growing respect for themselves and for others.

“They definitely mature a lot.  You know, starting out as a freshmen in the program you are a little bit intimidated.  You watch them grow and they definitely become their own leaders and that’s what we try to instill in them,” he said.

As for his college he was looking into astronomy because he has always been fascinated with the stars and planets and space. 

“I’m undecided on whether I am going to join the military.  It would be the Army and it would be helicopters – I’d like to fly the UH-60 Blackhawk,” he said.



— GLENN KAHL
209 staff reporter

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