Chugiak ROTC command transfers to Bell for spring semester

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 10:28
  • Cadet Lt. Commander Michelle Millette passed the command of the Chugiak High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps to Cadet Lt. Commander Colten Bell in a ceremony last Thursday. Photo by Amy Armstrong for the Star

Last Thursday’s change-of-command ceremony for the Chugiak High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps featured passing top school-based duties from a U.S. Navy enlistee to an Army National Guard enlistee.

“I hereby relieve you of duty,” Cadet Lt. Commander Colten Bell told Cadet Lt. Commander Michelle Millette as the unit gathered for the ceremony that is held every semester in the school cafeteria.

While the primary focus of the ROTC program isn’t to generate candidates for military service post high school, in the case of Millette, the CHS unit’s outgoing commander, and Bell, the incoming commander, that’s exactly what happened.

Both say participation in ROTC helped prepare them for their vocational choices after they receive their high school diplomas.

Millette goes to basic training in August to become an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Navy. Bell heads to basic training in July to become a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic in the Army National Guard.

In the meantime, Bell’s goal for his command during the spring semester is to increase the unit’s volunteerism.

“Community service is one of the main goals of the ROTC program and it is something that I would like to push this unit collectively and individually to do more,” Bell said.

CHS ROTC members already assist in campus-wide clean-up efforts. He’d like that work to expand to other parts of the greater Chugiak-Eagle River community.

He invites business owners to contact ROTC leadership to arrange for cadets to help with spring clean-up on their properties.

“One thing we could most certainly do is help sweep all the rock out of their parking lots,” Bell said.

While he doesn’t know the protocol involved, Bell thinks ROTC members could help repaint the red and yellow curb markings for no parking and emergency lanes in town as well as the blue marking for handicap areas.

Bell is also preparing the unit for its annual inspection this coming spring. In 2015, the “Distinguished Unit” award for having top marks in all categories. He wants the unit to earn that award under his command.

For Millette, the change-of-command provided the opportunity to reflect on her command under which the unit’s promotion rate increased from one or two a month previously to five to seven per month during fall semester 2015.

Millette hopes she too learns a bit about promotion when she begins her career in the Navy. Her plan is to complete her initial six-year contract and distinguish herself enough to qualify for Officer Candidate School.

Millette said being in the ROTC took her out of her comfort zone as she became a member of its drill team and later a drill team commander. She also believed ROTC solidified the moral compass her parents provided.

“We are always faced with decisions that we have to make ourselves. In the ROTC, you are given a guideline for keeping your integrity,” Millette said. “It is the best way to go.”

Learn more about CHS JROTC online at

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