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Sea Cadets want others to share their program

Sea Cadets get some tubing in during a recent drill in the snow. The Sea Cadets unit has drill weekends nearly every month.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

A couple of Connersville families want to share something that’s meant a great deal to them: the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

“It’s kind of Boy Scouts on steroids,” John Cannarella, a leader in the Sea Cadets, said. The unit serving this area is having an open house recruitment event Sunday.

He knows about the Scouting comparison. His older son, Sam Cannarella, now in college, earned his Eagle Scout award. A daughter, Moriah Cannarella, participated in Sea Cadets, and is now a college student. A younger son, Connersville Middle School student Luke Cannarella, is in the Scouts and the Sea Cadets.

Along with the Cannarellas, Dylan Steele of Connersville is a member of the Flying Tigers Squadron, which has drills about every month.

“It’s a really well-organized program for ages 10 to 17 that teaches responsibilities,” John Cannarella, an Indiana conservation officer, said. “When they sign up, they get about $500 worth of gear: Navy uniforms and a sea bag full of gear.”

The unit recently had a drill at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville. Members played paint ball and had close-quarter battle training. Along with those kinds of activities, the young people have done service projects, performed flag ceremonies and made a trip to the state legislature. They’ve volunteered their help for air shows and with World War II veterans, and they made a trip to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton.

The program, sponsored by the U.S. Navy, operates at two levels. The junior program for ages 10-13 is called Navy League Cadet Corps. The Naval Sea Cadet Corps is for youths age 13 through the end of high school. Cadets are mentored by adults and peer leaders.

To join, students must be drug-, alcohol- and gang-free, and attending school full-time with a grade-point average of C or better.

There is no commitment for future military service, Cannarella said, but the those who do enlist may be eligible to enter at an advanced pay grade. Former cadets are not limited to the Navy but may enlist in whatever service branch they wish.

Cannarella was not in the military but believes that by volunteering his service as a Sea Cadet leader, he is helping prepare future citizens to help keep America strong.

Open enrollment will be available at the Flying Tigers Squadron open house from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Sunman American Legion, 412 Eastern Ave., Sunman, Indiana. A free lunch will be available.

For more information, go to www.seacadets.org or send email to jrcannarella@flyingtigerssquadron.us.