Southold NJROTC unit named best in the nation

Members of the NJROTC program with group leader Major Bill Grigonis (right) during a recent drill competition in Florida.

Just when members of the Mattituck-Southold-Greenport Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps thought it couldn’t get any better than being named the top unit in its district, it got better.

Much, much better.

The local unit has been named tops in the United States.

Word of the honor came Friday from unit leader, Major William Grigonis, who said it’s the first time in the North Fork program’s 37-year history that cadets have taken that coveted title.

“This award has been a building block process over the years and we have to recognize not only today’s cadets, but also those cadets that have worked so hard for this unit,” Major Grigonis said.

The award recognizes overall unit excellence in the areas of school and community leadership, annual inspection results, drill competitions and other achievements.

There are 622 NJROTC units throughout the world and the unit that almost wasn’t is the best of all. It took a special act of Congress in 2008, signed by then President George Bush, that enabled the three-school unit to continue.

Two years earlier the Defense Department indicated it would enforce rules on the books since 2001 prohibiting satellite programs, such as the Southold NJROTC. That would have forced each of the three schools to launch its own independent unit at considerable cost above the federal support given to such programs.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) went to bat for the unit, securing the special resolution.

Just last week, Major Grigonis announced that the unit was, for the fifth successive year, Area 4’s Most Outstanding Unit. The area comprises 52 units from Maine to Delaware and west to Pittsburgh, PA.

He also announce that three of his cadets — Cadet Battalion Executive Officer Kim Krupski, Cadet Commander Billy Goggins and Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Reyer — took first, second and third places respectively as the top cadets in the area.

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