DeSoto JROTC reunion scheduled, cookies included

It’s hard saying no to cookies. Especially if those treats are baked by Sandy Damron, “Mrs. Colonel” for those remembering a special woman in DeSoto County history.

Sandy and her husband, retired U.S. Army Col. Tom Damron, host a DeSoto High JROTC reunion on June 29 at the Arcadia American Legion Post K-11. The Bulldog Battalion involves cadets from school years 2002 through 2006, likely 100 or so former cadets attending, their spouses/significant others and immediate families. Col. Damron is the JROTC’s former commander at DeSoto High over four school years. The job typically caps a soldier’s retirement, as officers and enlisted men and women may not be active duty to participate in JROTC training.

Along with fare such as pulled pork, hot dogs, slaw and sweet tea, Sandy at the Saturday reunion plans to bake a few hundred cookies.

“We’ve had such good help from the parents” in organizing the June 29 event, which runs 4-10 p.m., she said. “We wanted to reward everyone.”

While most everyone has a cookie story, Sandy Damron’s is funny ... and it has lasted over the years. It began with a pledge from Col. Damron as JROTC commander to moderate his diet, meaning no fries, Coke, candy … or cookies. Sandy enlisted help from the cadet corps, asking them to keep a watchful eye on their leader, her hubby. At some point Col. Damron was presented with a boxed lunch, a dry turkey sandwich, diet soda, baked chips … and a cookie, which he promptly gobbled, he said.

And straight to the source they went. “It was ‘Mrs. Colonel, the colonel ate a cookie,’” she said. “Their reward was 700 homemade cookies!”

To which her husband responded: “I have never forgiven those kids,” he said, laughing at the memory.

On a serious note, Sandy Damron remembers how far some DeSoto JROTC cadets flew from the nest. Some are lawyers, dentists, and active duty soldiers, a few serving in far-off places.

“We loved those kids,” she said. “Arcadia needs to know how well they did, and can do.”

For his part, Col. Damron stressed the important role JROTC can play. “And properly done,” he said, “really, it’s the kids running the program. It may be the first success, the first recognition they’ve had. And they love that. You learn to consider anybody working, has a family and contributing, that’s success. You do the best you can. And that’s the lesson; opportunity is out there, every day.”

Details are at Sandy Damron’s Facebook page. Sign-up deadline is June 20.

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