WEST ORANGE, NJ – 21 Mountaineer Squadron cadets of the West Orange High School Air Force Jr. ROTC program received awards.at its annual National Awards Program on May 23. The awards were held at the Wilshire Grand with over 220 guests in attendance. 

“The event served to recognize Mountaineer Squadron's accomplishments over the past year and celebrate those individual cadets whose performance was truly outstanding,” said Major Joseph Marchesini (Ret.).
“The AFJROTC National Awards program is a nationwide initiative whereby military-affiliated organizations recognize outstanding cadets for their contributions,” continued Maj. Marchesini.
Organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Air Force Association awarded cadets with medals and certificates for their performance. In addition, Major Marchesini and Chief Master Sergeant Thurston honored graduating seniors Valerie Giovine and Kyla Trinidad as this year's most outstanding cadets.
Senior Iveth Gonzales was selected as the 2016-17 Cadet Squadron Commander, succeeding Giovine, who graduates this year. She will be studying at Penn State University.
Honored during the evening were:
  • Air Force Association Award – Valerie Giovine
  • Daedalian Award – Kyla Trinidad
  • American Legion Scholastic Award – Abby Rosu
  • American Legion General Military Excellence Award – Joshua Vinoya
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Award – Iveth Gonzales
  • American Veterans Award  - Alina Chant
  • Reserves Officer Association Award – Andrei Rosu
  • Military Order of the World Wars Award – Justice Rooney
  • Military Officers Association of America Award – Chase Garguilo
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Award – Colin Morgan
  • National Sojourners Award – Bianca Trinidad
  • Sons of the American Revolution Award – Christian Silba
  • Scottish Rite Americanism Award – Marshall Lipsey
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart Award – Gabrielle Petrucelli
  • Air Force Sergeant Association Award – Michael Giovine
  • Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Award – Richard Lindsay
  • Tuskegee Airmen Award – Jeremy Lugu and Jeffey John
  • The Enlisted Association Award – Melissa Rengel
  • National Society United States Daughters of 1812 Award – Aamore Richards
  • Air Commando Association Award – Danielle Arrabito and Denado Ellis
  • Dwight Eisenhower Leadership Award – Iveth Gonzales
The evening included some traditional hijinx as well. A favorite part of the event is the traditional drinking of the mysterious "Grog," generally comprised of unsavory ingredients to test the mettle of its drinkers. The recipe for the non-alcoholic Grog at the Military Ball is a secret that will never be revealed.
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