Editorial: A salute to our local NJROTC

NJROTC Grigonis 2015 inspection

When Suffolk Times editors asked Maj. William Grigonis of the local Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps for a list of some of the unit’s recent accomplishments this week, we expected a paragraph or two telling us how many students had received scholarships and a few other details about the program. 

Instead, the major sent an eight-page packet listing nearly 50 awards and dozens more academic scholarships and military appointments. We should have known that if you ask the New York Yankees of the NJROTC world to write down all they’ve done, it will take a while to read.

To see all the achievements of Southold-Mattituck-Greenport NJROTC students outlined in one document was nothing short of amazing.

The program has been named Most Outstanding Unit in the region each year for the last decade. A local student has been named New York State Cadet of the Year eight times during the same decade.

About 85 local NJROTC students have received academic scholarships over the program’s 41-year history. The unit, meanwhile, has averaged more than 11,500 hours of community service annually since 2001, including more than 15,000 hours in 2015.

With this level of service to the community and the many opportunities for students, it’s easy to see why the unit has grown in the past 20 years from fewer than 100 members to 320 — with enrollment almost never dipping year to year.

Since its inception, the NJROTC has gone from a fledgling school activity to the most accomplished youth program on the North Fork.

That’s not to say there haven’t been bumps in the road. In 2001, when enrollment was about a third of what it is today, a change in Navy policy threatened the program by potentially forcing each school to establish its own unit. The schools successfully navigated that issue and, under the leadership of Maj. Grigonis, the three-school NJROTC has thrived.

Today, it’s hard to imagine the North Fork without this storied program. To anyone who’s ever worn the uniform, including the men and women who have served as instructors, we salute you.

Caption: Southold-Mattituck-Greenport Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps senior instructor Major Bill Grigonis talks to some of the cadets after the inspection. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)