By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
For more than a decade, Lt. Col. Hans Hunt, USA (Ret), has been teaching high school students participating in Junior ROTC (JROTC) programs. Becoming a JROTC instructor was not something he had originally considered after retiring from the military, but it is a role he quickly grew to love.
“I got hooked,” he said. “I love working with the youth.”
He understands the value of JROTC and ROTC. He participated in ROTC at Weber State University in Utah, an experience he said greatly impacted his Army career.
“I had great instructors. … They really prepared me for Ranger school,” said Hunt, who enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as a security policeman and then joined the Special Forces Group, Utah Army National Guard, before deciding to make the switch to the Army.
Upon graduating from college in 1989, he received a regular commission as an infantry second lieutenant. He then parachute and Ranger qualified. In 1993, he transferred to the Military Police Corps. He completed numerous assignments before retiring in November 2009 after almost 24 years of service.
After retirement, he began his teaching career in Florida, and today he serves as senior Army instructor at Sonora High School in La Habra, Calif.
He credits the JROTC program with providing important leadership opportunities that help cadets in their future endeavors.
“The program sets the tone for the rest of their lives,” he said. “We put them in leadership positions. They volunteer in their community, and they are well respected in the community. … It’s key because as they progress to ... whatever they decide to do, at least they’ve had some taste of leadership and some opportunities for teamwork and for service to the community and have been rewarded for the things they have done. They can apply this knowledge in the future.”
In addition to his role instructing cadets, he also does his part to ensure they are recognized for their efforts. As a member of the Los Alamitos Chapter of MOAA, Hunt organizes the chapter’s annual JROTC/ROTC Recognition Dinner held each May. The dinner, which is attended by chapter members, instructors, students, and families of students, honors the top cadet at each of the 17 programs the chapter sponsors.
“Setting up this dinner obviously requires planning, timely execution, and dedication to the task to pull this all together,” said fxormer Army Capt. Thomas Bell, chapter president. “Among those involved in this annual activity, one individual stands out: Lt. Col. Hans Hunt, USA (Ret). The chapter commends [Hunt], who has taken on the responsibility, among his myriad responsibilities.”
Hunt said he is grateful he and the chapter can honor these cadets. “They go above and beyond,” he said. “[These awards] look great on college applications, résumés, [and] job applications. They can use them to benefit their future. They earn it, and they deserve the recognition.”
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.