ROTC Students Targeted at Homecoming Parade

Members of the program feel disrespected after incident at West’s annual event


Mikaela Kelly-Price

Cadets standing at attention at the 2015 homecoming game

Sylvia Bryan and Sami Jansen

West’s homecoming parade is usually a joyful tradition, marked by school spirit and general excitement. But on October 6, it was marred by the wrong sort of excitement for one student organization.

ROTC students were surprised when unidentified bystanders threw rocks at their platoon.

Rocks were not the only things thrown their way; the students were also targeted with raised middle fingers and insults. According to Chief Cadet Arianna Hilger and Cadet Lieutenant Commander Cole Manthe, the latter is nothing new.

“ROTC nazis, it’s been an ongoing name called for a long time. It’s not very common anymore, but stuff that’s happening now isn’t new,” Hilger said.

Hilger was not personally hit, although Manthe was.

“I was commanding the main part of the platoon, and I got hit by […] a decent sized rock where I could feel it. It wasn’t too big of a deal, my knee swelled a little bit but the ice brought the swelling down,” Manthe said.

Manthe was not the only one; other cadets were also injured.

“Others in the platoon got three to five little complaints about being hit. One cadet got hit three times and other cadet was hit in the back of the knee, and it bruised pretty bad,” Manthe said.

ROTC procedure stipulates that cadets may not look to the side while marching, so they could only see the people throwing things in their peripheral vision. This prevented the cadets from being able to directly identify them.Neither Hilger nor Manthe saw exactly who hit the cadets, and only knew general demographic details.

“We know that when we march we look straight forward. So we don’t know,” Hilger said.

Although the cadets were dismayed by the incident, they weren’t exactly surprised. They have felt like outcasts in the student body long before yesterday.

“We have been hazed and pushed out of the student body pretty hard,” Manthe said.

Even right before the parade, Hilger overheard insults.

“Some kid walked by when we were setting up from the parade and laughed and said, ‘School shooters club, look at them all,’” Hilger said.

It’s currently undetermined if ROTC will march in the parade again next year, but after further consideration they will make a decision.

“We would call Pensacola, which is mangagement for us, and they tell us what to do. But from the sound of it we probably won’t,” Hilger said.

However, because of the unique situation they are still unsure how to proceed.

There’s nowhere in the manual that says ‘When students throw things at you in a parade the following year you don’t march.”

— Arianna Hilger

“There’s nowhere in the manual that says ‘When students throw things at you in a parade the following year you don’t march,’” Hilger said.

Regardless, the cadets still take pride in the organization, as well as their involvement in it.

“Everyday when we look at ourselves in the mirror and put the uniforms on, that’s not what we see. We don’t see that we joined a shooting club; we don’t see that we joined a cult. We take a pride in putting our uniforms on every day like cheerleaders and football players do. And people when they play their instruments, they take pride in knowing how to play an instrument, they take pride in what they do. So it’s really awful, and it’s really hurtful when people are being so derogatory. It’s something that we thought was prideful,” Hilger said.