Clinton Students Get Big Lift From Black Hawk Helicopters


Two Black Hawk helicopters from Whiteman AFB landed on the grounds of Clinton High School (CHS) on November 8 for a JROTC recruiting event. Teachers, cooks, counselors, two students from Clinton Christian Academy and 50 JROTC students were flown over Truman Lake by Missouri National Guard aviation personnel. It was a first flight for many passengers who showed their some of their excitement with fist bumps after landing.
“It was the first time we have had helicopters for a recruiting event,” said First Sergeant Thomas Collison, JROTC staff member. “When the Black Hawks landed on school grounds, kids’ noses were against the windows. My seniors thought they were awesome. A couple of JROTC graduates from our program have joined the Army in aviation. Helicopters equate to a great job on the outside. We want to do this again next year and involve more of the staff.”
Mac Vorce, Director of Sales for the Clinton Daily Democrat and Benton County Enterprise, went up on one of the Black Hawk flights and took photos. He said it was his first time onboard a helicopter and he greatly enjoyed the ride.
First Sgt. Collison said that the rides took place after a safety briefing in the CHS Media Center, and lasted 15 minutes each from 12:30 to 2:00 P.M. He said that the pilots and crew chiefs of the Black Hawks are all Missouri National Guard people, and they love to fly.
“JROTC is a military-style leadership course,” said Sgt. Collison. “Students learn to talk to people, learn active and passive listening, intervening and they participate in physical activities. We have physical training (PT) every Monday and are building a rappel tower so we can start including that activity. The kids have a lot of fun. The program is a way to get them away from their comfort zone, getting them off the couch and realizing they can really do this. The program has been at CHS since 1991.”
First Sgt. Collinson said that there are five JROTC classes a day and they are considered regular education. Students get AP credit for their first two years, and after that the classes are elective practical arts. He said that he and the other JROTC staff member, Major Steve Carter, do not push the kids into being recruited into the military. They are not recruiters. He said that they let recruiters into the classroom to give their spiel. Then, he and Major Carter give students information to help them make good decisions. However, he said that a helicopter ride really persuades a lot of kids.
Another highlight of the JROTC year is summer camp held at the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri after the end of the school year. It is a five-day camp that serves over 400 kids from all over the state. They rappel, do water operations, first aid and other related training. It is free, includes three meals a day, and is apparently loved by the kids attending.
First Sgt. Collinson is in his tenth year of teaching in JROTC and is retired from the U.S. Army with 23 years Active-Duty experience as an MP. Major Carter recently retired from Active-Duty in the Missouri National Guard where he was an adjutant for his battalion.
The Black Hawk helicopter is used by the military to transport equipment and troops, for searching during operations and it can turn into a gun ship. It is also used for combat, medivac, and other services. According to it was produced in 1974 and 5,000 have been built as of January 2023. Its primary users are the U.S. Army, Republic of Korea Armed Forces, Japan Sel-Defense Forces and Colombian Armed Forces. First Sgt. Collinson estimates that about 34 countries in all use this tough, reliable helicopter.