By Capt. Stephen Hudson
169th Fighter Wing
The South Carolina Air National Guard (SCANG) hosted 20 high school Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) teams – including Beaufort High School – for the “Top Gun” drill meet competition, March 26.
This competition is considered the state championship. The SCANG has held the drill meet over the past three decades. However, it was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 350 cadets from high schools around South Carolina, and one high school in North Carolina, converged for the one-day event. Cadets from the 20 teams represented Air Force, Army and Navy JROTC training programs and competed for honors in 12 drill and ceremony events.
“Everything is well run out here,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Allen Stewart, Aerospace Science Instructor at Lakewood High School in Sumter County. “The kids are excited and we have a great group.”
The drill and ceremony categories included platoon, squad, duet, and individual level competitions which featured precision marching, color guard as well as armed and unarmed routines. All the routines were held on the base flight line with 169th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon jets serving as the backdrop.
“Overall the day was a success,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Monroe, event coordinator and SCANG Recruiting superintendent. “The instructors were pleased and the day went extremely smooth.”
Monroe added the event could not have happened without the support of the more than 75 volunteers who came from McEntire, Shaw Air Force Base, University of South Carolina ROTC, and the South Carolina Army National Guard. Volunteers served as competition judges, scorers, as well as other duties.
Col. Quaid Quadri, 169th Fighter Wing commander, presented trophies to the winners at the awards ceremony that afternoon.
The overall winners for the 2022 Top Gun Drill Meet were:
First Place – Spring Valley High School, Columbia, S.C.
Second Place – Fort Dorchester High School, North Charleston, S.C.
All photos from this year’s competition can be found on the SCANG’s Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/thescang.