The Suwannee High School (SHS) NJROTC Unit celebrated its 45-year anniversary on April 25, 2017.

According to Master Sargent (MSgt) Doug Aukerman, the NJROTC Unit application was submitted in April 1971 by Retired Master Chief Edward Smith of Live Oak and officially came to order on April 25 in 1972. At the time of its creation, the SHS Unit was the 196 Unit in the country. Now, over 670 Units are in existence throughout the world.

SHS’s NJROTC was the first Unit to lead “The Prayer” for the Florida State Legislation. Florida legislation began a tradition to open each legislative ceremony with a prayer, and SHS’s Unit started that proud tradition.

SHS’s NJROTC also was the first Unit to have three cadets enlist in the Coast Guard as an E-3. “E-3” is a special classification with the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard use to have to go get their personnel from other services but once the “E-3” classification became available; SHS’s Unit was able to fill their need for personnel.

SHS was the first Unit in the nation to allow females. About 30 minutes after the approval came from the Navy, 30 females had already registered to the NJROTC Unit.

SHS’s NJROTC Unit has been recognized plenty of different times during their 45 year existence. In 2003, SHS received the Distinguished Unit Award. SHS’s Unit also has came away with the Unit Achievement Award multiple years (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014). SHS’s Unit also has received the very high honor of being asked to march in the Governor’s Inaugural Parade in 2011.

SHS Principal Malcolm Hines says, "We at SHS are very proud of what the NJROTC means to our community. Great organizations have great leadership and I am very thankful to have Lieutenant Kleinsmith and MSgt Aukerman leading our students."