Marching orders

Published 10:56 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2011

As Navy ROTC at Escambia County High faces an uncertain future, the school is celebrating the success of one of its top students in the program

Escambia County High School senior Aaron Miller may have a lot on his mind as graduation approaches this spring, but two things he is not worried about are how to pay for college or what he will be working towards once he hits campus this fall.


Thanks to his achievements in the Navy ROTC program during his four years at ECHS, Miller has been named the recipient of a four-year NROTC scholarship that will provide him with $180,000 to attend any college or university in the United States with an NROTC program.

But Miller’s achievement could become one of the school’s last under the program, which will cease to operate next year because of a lack of funding.

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Miller said joining the NROTC was one of the best decisions he has ever made, and transformed him from a student with no real goals into a driven leader who knows exactly what he is aiming to achieve.

“When I first joined I was overweight and on a fast track to obesity,” Miller said. “After my freshman year I attended the basic leadership training camp in Meridian, Miss., and mini boot camp in Anniston. Those two training camps showed me that I had what it took to lose weight and lead a large number of people.”

Four years later, Miller is a fourth year member of the NROTC, has been the cadet commanding officer for two consecutive years and now looks to use his experiences to further his education at the collegiate level.

Miller said once he got involved with the program he instantly knew he had found his niche and was able to rise quickly through the NROTC ranks.

“At the beginning of my sophomore year, I became more active in the unit,” he said. “I have not missed a single practice since the beginning of my sophomore year.  Starting my junior year I was pronounced the new commanding officer. With my experience I became the drill instructor for the unarmed basic, armed basic and armed exhibition drill teams. This year I led my unarmed drill team to second place in the inspection part of the Gulf Breeze drill meet.”

Miller said one of the biggest lessons he has learned from his years in the program has been understanding what it takes to be a successful leader.

“I have worked hard to organize the unit while instilling honor, courage, and commitment in each of my cadets,” Miller said. “I am thankful for Master Chief John Spaulding for believing that I had enough leadership experience to be the commanding officer.”

Now Miller looks forward to taking the leadership abilities he has acquired and using them at the next level.

“After graduating high school I plan to attend college to major in computer science on the full ride $180,000 scholarship,” he said. “After receiving my BS degree in computer science, I will be commissioned in the United States Navy. It is required that I stay in the Navy for five years, but it is my decision to make a career out of the Navy.”

Aside from his achievement in the NROTC Miller has also garnered successes in a number of areas at ECHS.

He is a member of the Atmoreala yearbook staff, the EsCoHi newspaper staff, the National Honor Society, Student Government Association, Future Business Leaders of American and Relentless student ministry. Miller is also a 2011-12 Chamber ambassador.

Despite his many achievements, Miller said the credit should go to those who have helped mold him into the person he is today.

“I have to thank both of my NJROTC instructors for the support they have showed over the years,” he said. “I have to give thanks to Mr. Zickeous Byrd for the work he has done in changing our school. And finally I would like to thank my mother for keeping me on a straight path because without her guidance I would not have made it this far in my life.”