ABILENE – For the 14th time in the last 16 years and for the 13th year in a row, the TX-794 Air Force Junior ROTC program at Cooper High School has been named an Air Force JROTC Distinguished Unit.

The award for 2019-20 recognizes Air Force JROTC units that have performed well above and beyond normal expectations. Those units are also distinguished by their outstanding service to their school and community while meeting Air Force JROTC citizen development mission for America.

The objectives of the Air Force JROTC program are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship and life skills, promote community service, instill responsibility, character and self-discipline through character education, and to provide instruction in air and space fundamentals.

The award for the 2019-20 school year comes in Col. (Ret.) Steven Shinkle’s final year directing the Cooper JROTC program. Col. Shinkle is retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year after 11 years of service at Cooper.

The success of the JROTC unit at Cooper High School starts with the fine men who lead the program,” Cooper principal Lyndsey Williamson said. “Col. Shinkle and MSgt. (Ret.) Ronald Deos are always looking for ways to grow and improve. Col. Shinkle’s contributions to Cooper and the JROTC are to be commended. He has high expectations for himself and those around him. He has earned the trust and admiration of his students and the faculty and staff at Cooper.

“Col. Shinkle’s commitment to developing the Cooper JROTC cadets into responsible, respectful young men and women has led to many years of success for the program,” she said. “The JROTC cadets are leaders on campus and in the community. Col. Shinkle strives to ensure that, no matter what the cadets’ goals are for the future, they leave the program prepared and confident in their abilities. While Col. Shinkle is retiring this year, he has certainly left a mark on the Cooper JROTC program and Cooper High School.”