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Community Support Credited For 15 Years Of Solid Success

By Michael P. Mauer

West Mifflin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 914 Intrepid lauded four Air Force JROTC cadets for outstanding achievement and exceptional leadership during the 15th Annual Military Ball Banquet at the Westwood Golf Club on April 5, 2019.

ROTC1 May 2019
Pictured (L to R): VFW Post 914 Commander Jake Bradich, Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Renee Salapa, Cadet Senior Airman Riley Munsie, Cadet Senior Airman Ryan Smoley, Cadet Senior Airman Ashley McCalla and VFW Post 914 Quartermaster Gary Ruston.

The awardees are part of a long line of more than 1,500 cadets that have gone through the program over the last decade-and-a-half.

Earning top honors this year were Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Renee Salapa, Cadet Senior Airman Riley Munsie, Cadet Senior Airman Ryan Smoley, and Cadet Senior Airman Ashley McCalla. All are students at West Mifflin Area High School.   The four cadets were each presented a medal and a certificate by VFW Post 914.

Post Quartermaster and Youth Activities Chairman Gary Ruston reflected on how his veterans’ organization has been proud to be part of the community’s Air Force JROTC program since 2004.

“Seeing each of these high school cadets this year made me realize many were not yet born when the Air Force JROTC program was started here,” said Ruston, a Gulf War Navy veteran. “I remember when we at VFW Post 914 were helping to get the program established. It’s great to be part of this success.”

Students began registering for the West Mifflin Air Force JROTC program in February 2004. At that time, the school was one of six sites in the United States chosen to participate. The West Mifflin Air Force JROTC currently has more than 130 active cadets in its ranks.

West Mifflin alumni and Senior Aerospace Science Instructor of the Air Force JROTC program, Maj. Scott R. Harbula, also credits the groundswell of community support for his cadets’ accomplishments.

“Everybody appreciates the strength of military tradition and values that this program brings to the school and the community,” said Harbula, who along with his father, Robert Harbula, are life members of VFW Post 914, West Mifflin. “As someone who has served and whose family has strong roots here, I’m very pleased that the

ROTC2 May 2019
Air Force JROTC Aerospace Science Instructors - Maj. Scott R. Harbula, at right, and Senior Master Sgt. Oreste DiCerbo help mark 15 years of success at West Mifflin Area High School.

borough and school board both recognize as well as add to this success.”

For more information about VFW Post 914 and its activities, visit the group’s website at: http://traa.weebly.com/vfw-post-914.html, or contact Commander Bradich at: 412-464-9838.

(Michael P. Mauer is the Public Affairs Officer for VFW District 29. He served as an Army photojournalist during Operation Desert Storm, and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal by Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf for his actions during the war.)

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