William Dean Colts Neck ROTC Teen Scene NJ 1
Nov 01, 2018

ROTC Leader William Dean

By Lori Draz and William Dean

William Dean Colts Neck ROTC Teen Scene NJ 1

Welcome to Teen Scene.

Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact the Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

Intro for William
This month’s author is William Dean, a 16-year-old senior at Colts Neck High School. In this month when we offer gratitude for brave veterans, we also look with pride to the next generation. Colts Neck High School’s ROTC program is one of the finest in the region. Their cadets display with brilliant medals the positive results of discipline, teamwork, focus and a desire for excellence, along with a deep regard for the military. Here is William’s story.

Family is the constant bond that holds a person together. The support of family inspires one’s personality, goals and accomplishments in life. Without my family, I wouldn’t be where I am today with a positive future ahead of me. Both of my parents served active duty in the United States Navy, instilling me with the understanding of the commitment and honor it takes to join the military.

It’s this passion for military that pushed me to join NJROTC as a freshman. Throughout my four years as a unit member, I’ve learned the rewards and challenges that come with leadership. NJROTC has allowed me to better myself while gaining a greater understanding of those around me.

William Dean Colts Neck ROTC Teen Scene NJ

I also participate in my NJROTC unit’s drill, physical fitness, academic, and orienteering teams. We practice every day to perfect our routines, movements, and marching, as well as compete nationally. These teams have allowed me to perform in front of major league baseball and football games, veterans’ fundraisers, military balls, and many other events.
Outside of the unit’s teams, I compete on the high school’s varsity cross country and track and field teams. These teams practice two hours a day, six days a week.

In NJROTC, I have earned the roles of platoon commander, company commander, and captain of the drill team. I led as a platoon commander during basic leadership training and throughout my junior year.
I was then promoted to company commander for my senior year. I am in charge of 60 cadets and lead them through every inspection, activity, and formal event the unit holds.

As drill team captain, I lead a group of 70 cadets during everyday practices and competitions, and guide them in new aspects of drill to follow after I graduate.

I have been honored with the Theodore Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Performance of Duty, the Military Officers Association of America Award for exceptional potential for military, and becoming the youngest graduate of Extreme Seal Experience, a week-long mock Navy SEAL training camp run by retired and active duty Navy SEALs. Each of these accomplishments improved my leadership abilities, personal drive, and resolve.

Yet throughout all my achievements, there was one aspect of my life that I valued most: volunteerism. While my family has encouraged me to pursue any goal, they also taught me the value of compassion and empathy that should be shown to all within our country.

Volunteerism is my way to give back to my community, especially to those who served, and to honor those who did not return home from service. During high school, I amassed over 300 hours in community, environmental, and unit service throughout New Jersey. Furthermore, each summer of my high school career, I organized and created successful charity projects, with support from my family and many community members who donated.

Raising nearly $80,000, these fundraisers gave me the honor and opportunity to meet every person and organization I was fundraising for, including Vietnam Veterans, Wounded Warriors, children with cancer, and veterans who suffer from disorders like PTSD.

While I was volunteering at Veterans Smile Day, a day of free dental service for veterans, I met a veteran who sparked my need to help people who sacrifice so much for our nation. Wearing my NJROTC uniform, I was greeting the men and women who walked through the door, helped patients sign up, and talked to each of them about their experiences in the military. It was there I met Lewis, a man covered in two sleeves of tattoos, which I recognized as representations of his military service.
I learned that Lewis was a four-year gunner for the United States Marine Corps. He informed me that upon arrival home from deployment overseas, the corpsman of his unit committed suicide the next day. His best friend from deployment also committed suicide later the same week. Both deaths were directly related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That day made me realize that at any given moment, even when you believe things are going well, things can take a turn for the worse and change your life.

Lewis and his unit believed they were home safe, but for some soldiers, the war was just beginning due to PTSD and other mental disorders. Lewis’ story greatly changed my thoughts about the meaning of sacrifice and the value of life. It also inspired my Service Dog Initiative fundraiser held in August 2018.

My experiences in life, and in particular with the Colts Neck NJROTC unit, have turned me into a diverse person. They’ve made me appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given, but more importantly how much hard work can pay off. I’m fortunate to have my support system, and hope to inspire those I encounter the same way that Lewis and my family have inspired me.
Because of NJROTC, my family, and all I met during volunteering, I gained a greater understanding of how all give some, but some give all.