NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - North Plainfield High School held its Inaugural Military Signing Day on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a military operation codenamed Operation Neptune, that took place on June 6, 1944 in the European Theater of World War II. Six North Plainfield seniors have committed to serve in the United States military upon graduation of North Plainfield High School. 

(See signing video here)

“While we recognize the sacrifice and selflessness exuded by members of the United States military 75 years ago, we gather here this morning to recognize the sacrifice and selflessness of the young men and women of North Plainfield High School who are about to embark on their journey as members of the United States military,” said Vincent Del Priore, organizer of the inaugural ceremony. (See video here)

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Del Priore is a social studies teacher at North Plainfield High School, and a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He teaches U.S History and recently leveraged his 11-year military experience to create an elective course for the students of North Plainfield High School: War Studies and the United States Military. Upon graduation of Old Bridge High School in 2008, Del Priore enlisted in the United States Air Force and attained the rank of Technical Sergeant. He commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in March 2017 and continues to serve the members of the 108th Force Support Squadron in the New Jersey Air National Guard. Del Priore utilized the Montgomery G.I Bill to attain his Master's degree in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey.

There to witness the signing were family, friends, Principal Dr. Jerard W. Stephenson, Superintendent Michelle Vella, members of North Plainfield High School’s Junior ROTC, Lt Col Hansen, and Chief Flaville.

Del Priore, and recruiters Sergeant First Class Williams, US Army, Sergeant First Class Rhone, US Army, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez, USMC, and Staff Sergeant Builes, USMC offered some words of advice to the prospective enlistees. 

Represent with honor, represent your family and remember to be on time, wear the proper uniform, and keep your mouth shut and don’t quit, recruiters Sergeant First Class Williams, US Army, and Sergeant First Class Rhone, US Army,said.

(See video here)

Remember your why,  keep pushing, don’t give up, don’t quit. Keep in mind your family, your friends, and know that we’re going to be there for you, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez, USMC, and Staff Sergeant Builes, USMC said.

(See video here)

Rodriquez quoted President Ronald Reagan and said,” some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world... Marines don’t have that problem.”

DelPriore said:

“As both an enlisted member, and now a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, I would like to share some words of advice with the future members of the United States military. The advice that I seek to share addresses two areas of focus for unit commanders: diversity and leadership.

Diversity

As members of the United States military, you will not only be afforded the opportunity to interact with people from all around the country, but also those who emanate from all around the world. Soon, you will find yourself in the unique position of interacting with and, in some instances, going to battle with individuals: who don’t look like you; who don’t think like you; who did not grow up like you; and who had very different life experiences than you. These individuals will be your new family -- your brothers and sisters in arms.

As we all know, brothers and sisters fight. The United States military is no exception. However, conflict within an organization, that stems from intolerance and ignorance, hinders the ability of the organization to successfully execute the mission. As a commissioned officer, it is my duty and responsibility to ensure the mission is successfully executed; therefore, I share with you the following:

1. Embrace diversity; and educate yourself so as to develop your cultural competence

2. Practice empathy; try to see the world through a different lens, as this will allow you to gain some perspective which may ultimately resolve your conflict in a productive and constructive manner

3. Above all, treat others with dignity and respect, regardless of your vast differences

Leadership

The last piece of advice that I would like to share with you this morning, is in the realm of leadership. Early in your military careers, you will not be placed in formal leadership roles; formal leadership roles will not be bestowed upon you until earn your way into the Non-Commissioned Officer corps.

Understand, however, that there will come a time when you are called upon to lead. When you secure these formal leadership positions, you must ​not l​ead through your position or by decree -- instead, you must lead from the heart. When you lead from the heart, you satisfy three core objectives: you have a genuine ​commitment to​ and ​care for​ people; you attempt to understand and empathize with people; and you attempt to aid in the growth and development of people. Leadership, quite simply, is about the people -- be sure to take care of your people, and they will respond in kind.

(See video here)

 

While you are waiting for those formal leadership positions of tomorrow, you must begin your preparation for those roles today. This is accomplished by ensuring you meet the following five expectations -- expectations that are set forth by all unit commanders regardless of the branch of service:

1. Show you are willing to learn, and prove you are capable of leading (remember - leadership starts with you; if you are not capable of leading yourself, you cannot lead others)

2. Seek out opportunities to grow and show initiative; do not wait for a superior to assign you to a task; seek out your supervisor, inquire about what needs to be done, and execute.

3. Do not allow your rank to silence your voice.

(See video here)

 

Far too often, young men and women of the United States military believe their rank does not qualify them to critique the organization’s inefficiencies or make suggestions for improvement. I stand before you this morning to dispel that myth. We, as military leaders, want to empower you to solve problems that will make us a more lethal global power. We want you to ask questions and examine the current processes with a critical eye. While you examine the current processes you must ask yourself two fundamental questions: why are things done this way; and is there a more efficient or effective way to reach the desire end-goal?

4. Challenge the status-quo

Progress demands change, and change demands adaptability, flexibility and resilience. Don’t be afraid to challenge the current state of affairs within your organization, as your attempts to drive change will ensure we continue to progress and maintain global superiority.

5. Lastly, and most importantly -- DARE TO INNOVATE.

Utilize your knowledge, skills, and ability to think critically to resolve problems that are not yet foreseen. Your intellectual capability, coupled with your technological acuity, is needed more now than ever before in our country’s history.

If you follow the five pieces of advice, as outlined for you this morning, I guarantee a successful, fulfilling and enriching career in the United States military! I have printed these words of advice for each of you and left them in an envelope on the table in front of you -- take these home with you, keep them safe, and as you progress throughout your military careers, I encourage you to review and reflect on these words of advice, for it will bring you great clarity and guidance throughout your journey.”

(See video here)

 

Intending to enlist in the United States Army (Active Duty), ​Victor Gomez;

Intending to enlist in the United States Army (Reserves), ​Jonathan Galvez-Hernandez; Intending to enlist in the United States Army (Reserves), ​Caterine Paredes;

Intending to enlist in the United States Marine Corps (Reserves), ​Vladimir Menendez-Ochoa; Intending to enlist in the United States Marine Corps (Active D), ​Jonathan Guardado-San Jose; Intending to enlist in the United States Marine Corps (Reserves), ​Nicholas Lepak.

 

The six enlistees then signed their letters of intent.

 

“The letter of intent has both a symbolic meaning and a ceremonial purpose,” said Del Priore. “The prospective enlistees who sign their letters of intent are doing so as a symbol of their desire and intent to sign a formal contract with the United States military.

The ceremonial purpose of the letter of intent is to recognize that each individual’s decision to enlist places them among the one percent of Americans who voluntarily take the oath to protect and serve the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Additionally, the signing of the letter of intent acts as an acknowledgment that their commitment to service is both commendable and honorable, and brings great credit upon themselves, their family, and the greater community of North Plainfield.

 

Prospective enlistees, at this time I invite you to execute the signing of your letter of intent,” said DelPriore. “CONGRATULATIONS everyone, and welcome to the military family!!!

At this time, I ask that you proceed to center stage to receive your honor cords which you may wear on graduation day.”

(See video here)

 

“As we conclude our inaugural military signing day, I would like to genuinely thank the recruiters of the United States Army and United States Marine Corps for their efforts in helping make this ceremony such a great success,” said DelPriore. “Without you, this day does not happen. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the North Plainfield community, and above all, thank you for your commitment and dedication to the service of our country. 

A huge thank you to Lt Col Hasnen, Chief Flaville and the North Plainfield High School Jr-ROTC; and a special thank you to the members of the Jr-ROTC who brilliantly executed the Presentation of the Colors and beautifully sang the National Anthem. (Video here)

Finally, a special thank you to the family members of the prospective enlistees. It is your support that they will rely on in the most difficult and challenging times that they will inevitably experience throughout their military careers. Military life is not easy, but if they have the support of their family, they will be able to overcome any adversity that may come their way. It is your support that will ensure successful military careers for these young men and women. Thank you. 

Thank you all for attending and showing support for these young men and women of North Plainfield. We know that they will not only continue to do great things once they are assigned to their units, but we also know that they will continue to make North Plainfield proud!”

 

Check back for more on the day from the perspective of a North Plainfield High School student.

 

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