The Linden High School NJROTC held a dignified change of command ceremony on May 13, revealing the commanding officer for the 2019-20 school year, as well as the regimental staff, which will lead the unit through the next school year.

Commanding Officer Cadet Capt. Gilbert Nolasco, a graduating senior, was relieved by junior Mario Rodriguez.

The auditorium was packed with cadets, families, staff, and honored guests including Assistant Superintendent Denise Cleary and other administrators, members of the Board of Education, Mayor Derek Armstead, Linden Chief of Police David Hart, and leaders of local military groups.

Commander Boyd Decker, senior Naval Science instructor at Linden High School, spoke about the unit and what the ceremony represents to the cadets.

“Every single day I get to work with these cadets is a great day for me,” he said. “We have over 450 young men and women now in the program, which is really thriving.

“You can see the passion that these kids bring to us when they apply for these jobs. They interview before a panel of instructors and they talk passionately about the program and how they want to be in these positions of leadership. Not for themselves, but they know what the program has done for them and they want to pass on to the next generation of cadets. It’s really something that’s great to see.”

Principal Yelena Horré said the NJROTC is one of the school’s most successful programs, making up about a quarter of the school population.

“I think that our mayor and our police chief will agree that everywhere these students go, they represent Linden well,” she said. “They are constantly doing outreach. They understand that their role is not just to be students but to be members of the community, and they express that every day. It makes me very confident in the future of our country when I see they students that are sitting here today.

“And parents you should be so proud. These are your children. Great job!”

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group of NJROTC cadets onstage

Graduating Commanding Officer Gilbert Nolasco shaking hands with new Commanding Officer Mario Rodriguez as all of the graduating regimental staff promote their replacements.

The regimental staff, known as the “Top 12,” which will lead the unit in 2019-20, is as follows:

Commanding Officer: Capt. Mario Rodriguez

Executive Officer: Commander Licxi Cardoso

Command Master Chief: Petty Officer Daniel Castillo

Operations Officer: Commander Ganesh Ramcharran


HQ Battalion Commanding Officer: Commander Jaydon Mckoy

HQ Battalion Executive Officer: Lt. Commander Hajari Tucker

2nd Battalion Commanding Officer: Commander Mathew Rocha

2nd Battalion Executive Officer: Lt. Commander Lissette Santos

3rd Battalion Commanding Officer: Commander Christina Gonzalez

3rd Battalion Executive Officer: Lt. Commander Ruben Rua

4th Battalion Commanding Officer: Commander Zachary Donovan

4th Battalion Executive Officer: Lt. Commander Nicole Molano

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The change of command capped off the unit’s annual awards ceremony. Here are the award winners:

two photos of commander presenting award to cadets in uniform

Commander Boyd Decker, LHS senior Naval Science instructor, gives Cadet of the Year Awards to Maurice Faulk and Gladalise Mendez.

Military Aptitude Award

Awarded yearly to those outstanding cadets who demonstrate an exceptional military aptitude and dedication to the NJROTC program.

Isaac DeSantana, Ariana Eastwood, Love Desrosiers, Jade Rich, Janice Quevedo, Jessica Moreno-Burgos, Angela Lopez, Lerany Jimenez, Andrew Salermo, Jaink De La Cruz, Lamont Lee, Lissette Santos, Christina Gonzalez, Hajari Tucker, Sarah Mostafa, Gil Sahagun, Xavier Vasquez, Roberto Meadows, Julian Oquendo, Claudia Zuraw, Andy Metaliaj, Annika Labrador

Makenzie Kuntz, Anai Carpio, Eva Jarzab, Alexander Stapkowitz , Erica Ordoñez, Deanna Hernandez, Xiomara Frech Pecora, Daniel Ceipiela, Brielle Ellis

Bruno De La Cuadra, Cynthia Zuniga , Sebastian Kubis


Community Service Award

Awarded yearly to cadets in good standing who have distinguished themselves by meritorious service to the community. The unit has conducted over 3,797 hours of community service this school year.

Gilbert Nolasco, Jaclyn Beviano, Love Desrosiers, Ganesh Ramcharran, Onelvi Martinez, Travis Espinhal, Victoria Strisovska, Deanna Hernandez, Samantha Gonzalez


Area Four Cadet Achievement Award

This award is presented annually on behalf of the NJROTC Area Four Manager, to Cadets who distinguish themselves by outstanding achievement or sustained superior performance throughout their 4 years in NJROTC.

James Muñoz, Shakira Brown Roberts, Mahesh Lopez, Rajesh Lopez, Erik Hernandez, Onelvi Martinez


Daughters Of The American Revolution JROTC Medal

The DAR medal is presented to a cadet who has demonstrated academic excellence, dependability, good character, adherence to military discipline, patriotic understanding of the importance of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. This award is accompanied by a check in the amount of $100.

Nicole Molano


Marine Corps League Award

The Marine Corps League Award is proudly presented to cadets in recognition of their maintained excellence and achievement in both Athletics and Academics.

Aiden Scaff, Alyssa Ortega


American Legion Junior ROTC Military Excellence Medal

This award is presented to three naval science cadets in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of the program. These cadets have demonstrated outstanding qualities of military leadership, discipline, character, and citizenship.

Landy Garcia, Lissette Santos, Andrew Lopez


American Legion Junior ROTC Scholastic Medal

This award is presented to three naval science cadets in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of the program. The cadets chosen are in the upper 10% of their high school class and have demonstrated qualities of leadership and actively participate in student activities.

Daija Wilson, Jaydon McKoy, Gilbert Nolasco


Military Order of the Purple Heart Leadership Award

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Award recognizes a cadet who is enrolled in the NJROTC program and has been active in unit and community service. He/she must have maintained a “B” average in all subjects for the previous semesters. This cadet must have demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities in addition to having a positive attitude toward NJROTC and their country.

Zachary Donovan


The Surface Navy Association Stephen Decatur Jr Award

An outstanding cadet earns this award in their first and third year of the NJROTC program. These cadets must possess a character reflecting the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment and demonstrate leadership potential. The cadet chosen has demonstrated their dedication to NJROTC through their motivation, performance of duty and military bearing. He/she must have maintained a “B” or better in all academic studies.

Ganesh Ramcharran, Ariann Muñoz


Sons of the American Revolution

The SAR awards the ROTC Medal to foster the principle of the “citizen-soldier”, exemplified by the Minutemen of Revolutionary War days. This award is presented to a JROTC cadet who is selected for having a high degree of merit with respect to leadership qualities, military bearing and general excellence.

Ruben Rua


Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Medal

By honoring deserving cadets, the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War help promote the maintenance of unqualified American citizenship because it will be these young people who will eventually serve in our Nation’s military, under the flag our forefathers fought to preserve.

Syrus Casanas


Scottish Rite Award

This honor goes to the cadet who has contributed the most among cadets on campus to encourage and demonstrate patriotism by deeds or conduct during participation in extracurricular activities or community projects. The cadet has also demonstrated a potential for outstanding leadership by exhibiting qualities of dependability, good character, self-discipline, good citizenship and patriotism

Licxi Cardoso


National Sojourners NJROTC Award For Americanism

Cadets who receive the Sojourners Award have demonstrated and encourage the ideals of Americanism by deed and/or conduct. This cadet also demonstrated a potential for outstanding leadership.

Mathew Rocha


Military Officers Association Of America

The MOAA junior ROTC medal is given to recognize an outstanding cadet who is in their third year of the program and is in good academic standing. This cadet has demonstrated loyalty to the unit, the school and the United States of America, and has demonstrated motivation, good citizenship and leadership potential. These are the qualities that earn this cadet the MOAA award.

Mario Rodriguez


Order Of Daedalians

The order of Daedalians is a fraternity of commissioned military pilots from all military services. It is named after the legendary figure, Daedalus, and was organized by World War I commissioned military pilots who sought to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism, love of country and those high ideals of self-sacrifice which place service to the nation above personal safety and position. This award is offered to encourage the development of these traits in junior ROTC cadets and to interest them in a military career.

Daniel Castillo


Distinguished Cadet

This ribbon is awarded yearly to one cadet in each year group with the highest combined average for overall scholastic standing and effort in NJROTC unit activities such as academics, homework, physical fitness, community service, participation, drill and aptitude.

Freshman Daenna Lawrence, Sophomore Landy Garcia, Junior Daniel Castillo Senior, Senior Jaclyn Beviano


NJROTC Honor Cadet

This ribbon is awarded yearly to one cadet in each year group with the highest overall academic achievement (GPA) in school, including the naval science courses.

Freshman Abigail Meima, Sophomores Melissa Menzel and Jordyn Loftus, Junior Sarah Mostafa, Senior Love Desrosiers


Cadet of the Year Award

Awarded yearly to the male and female cadets who have stood out above their peers in areas of demonstrated leadership, academics, responsibility and initiative regarding contributions to the NJROTC program.

Maurice Faulk, Gladalise Mendez


American Patriot Marine Corps Award

The United States Marine Corps would like to proudly recognize the following cadets who have enlisted and will be departing for Marine Corps Basic Training following graduation from Linden High School.

Maurice Faulk, Erik Hernandez, Onelvi Martinez, Andrew Lopez

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The Linden High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, founded in 1986, is a voluntary citizen development program focusing on character education, leadership and service. Most cadets do not go on to serve in the military, but are better prepared to take on the challenges of higher education or the workforce because of the discipline and sense of commitment they learn in the program.