By Zachary Daum
The Mascoutah High School held their Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) Change of Command Ceremony on October 25, 2023, the leadership baton at Mascoutah High School’s Cadet Squadron IL-20083 passed from outgoing Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Wyatt Curry to incoming Cadet Major Daniel Ponce. This tradition, known as the Change of Command Ceremony, is steeped in military history, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility and leadership within the squadron.
The ceremony began promptly at 1:45 PM, with the officiating officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Berthe, presiding over the event. The presiding narrator, Cadet Alysse Houk, commenced the ceremony by inviting the distinguished guests, family members, and attendees to take their seats.
As is customary, all electronic devices were silenced, and the attendees stood for the singing of the National Anthem, performed by Cadet Airman First Class Felix Santana, showcasing the dedication and patriotism that runs through the cadet corps.
The official party, consisting of Lieutenant Colonel Berthe, Cadet Curry, Cadet Ponce, and Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Leena Dryden, assumed their positions at attention. The audience was joined by esteemed guests, including Mr. Doug Curry and Mrs. Cathy Curry, Mr. Juan Ponce, Mrs. Kelly Johnson (Principal of Mascoutah High School) and school administrators Mr. Woodrome, Mr. Nick Seibert, Mr. Morio Montgomery and Mrs. Julie Hazzard.
Lt. Col. Berthe addressed the assembly, acknowledging the importance of the ceremony and the dedication of the cadets. He highlighted the historical significance of the Change of Command Ceremony, which has its roots in the time of Frederick the Great of Prussia. This tradition symbolizes the loyalty, trust, and allegiance that cadets commit to their leaders.
After Lt. Col. Berthe’s address, the outgoing Cadet Lt. Col. Wyatt Curry received a resounding round of applause, marking the end of his tenure as the commanding officer of the squadron. Cadet Curry then reviewed the squadron, where each flight paid their respects. The audience was reminded of the remarkable service and leadership that Cadet Curry had provided during his command.
Following the squadron review, the momentous Change of Command took place. Cadet Curry formally relinquished command by saluting and saying, “Sir, I relinquish command.” Lt. Col. Berthe accepted the salute, and Cadet Curry passed the flag to him. Cadet Ponce then assumed command by saluting and declaring, “Sir, I assume command.” The flag was handed over to Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Leena Dryden, who symbolized the continuity of leadership.
Cadet Ponce was introduced as the new commander, receiving a warm round of applause from the audience. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the cadet squadron’s history under the leadership of Cadet Major Daniel Ponce.
The ceremony concluded with the Air Force song and the departure of the official party. Attendees remained standing as they witnessed an important moment for Cadet Squadron IL-20083.
As Cadet Major Daniel Ponce takes the reins, he carries with him the honor and responsibility of leading the squadron into the future, building upon the strong foundation laid by his predecessor, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Wyatt Curry. The event showcased the values of leadership, respect, and tradition that are deeply ingrained in this remarkable program.