Veterans Day is a time for everyone to reflect on the duty and valor of our men and women in uniform who protect our freedom and lives.
For Lance Corporal Luke Spadafora, a graduate of the Palm Beach Gardens High School Naval Junior ROTC, that duty and valor came with a added recognition by the U.S. Department of the Navy.
Spadafora has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his decisive actions and the coordination of his crew that saved his life and the lives of his fellow crew.
In August, Spadafora was training with his squadron when their aircraft experienced a critical malfunction in its tail rotor system while flying at night. Despite the need to wear night vision goggles to see, Spadafora and his crew were able to coordinate their efforts to correct the problem and regain the control of the aircraft.
“Lance Corporal Spadafora’s exceptional professionalism, unrelenting perseverance and loyal devotion to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service,” the commendation reads.
Spadafora says that his four years in the NJROTC prepared him for his experience in the military and can be credited for his ability to act swiftly in this time of crisis. “JROTC prepared me for the military to the point where everything I’ve been doing so far, besides my job training, has become second nature,” he says.
Spadafora, who graduated Palm Beach Gardens High School in 2016, has served for the past year and a half and is currently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.
“This is my first duty station but I have been to multiple locations for separate training – Camp Geiger, NC for Marine combat training, Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL for water survival training, Naval Air Station Coronado, CA for SERE training, Camp Pendleton CA, for helicopter mechanics training and flight school,” he explains.
Spadafora also has advice for those currently in a JROTC program or considering applying for one of the District’s 13 Army, Navy or Marine JROTC programs. “I would advise anyone currently in JROTC to employ the skills they’ve been given by the outstanding program and join the military or, pursue an education at a college or university with an ROTC program, as well by taking advantage of the scholarships. Both routes have extreme reward.
“Anyone who is [interested in joining] a Choice program should definitely take a look at a JROTC program, they are well structured and the give amazing leadership skills to set you up for success,” he said. “It’s like a cheat code for adulthood.”
For more information or to apply for the District’s JROTC Choice Programs or any of the other more than 300 Choice and Career Academies, click here.