Featured Veteran: The 30 Year Cadet that Never Stopped

Featured Veteran: The 30 Year Cadet that Never Stopped

by Gonzalo Duran

This week’s featured Veteran is Corporal Joseph Ronda, United States Marine Corps (USMC). Joseph was born and raised in the Bronx and grew up in the Throggs Neck area. He currently works at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) in the buildings maintenance department, as a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) in the New York State Guard (NYSG), and the Cadet Brigadier General for the Star of the Sea – Sea Cadet Corps Incorporated (SOTS-SCC). To say he is a busy man is an understatement.

11995490_1166618080021861_1543146964_nFew individuals give full dedication and exemplify the true words of loyalty but Joseph is a prime example of what the Cadet Corps embodies. Yesterday, Joseph celebrated his 30th anniversary with the Cadet Corps. He joined the Cadets at a young age to learn discipline, leadership, and much more. He used that knowledge when he decided to join the military and enlisted into the USMC after high school. After an honorable discharge from the USMC, the Esprit de Corps lingered within him, which is why he decided to join the NYSG but his beloved SOTS-SCC was never too far from arms reach.

The Cadet Corps has played a huge part in Joseph’s life, especially since it has overlapped into his military career and civilian life. When Joseph joined the Cadets back in 1985, he excelled because of his no nonsense serious attitude. Here is a great example, there was one particular year he went from E7 to E9 (jumping two rank grades) and won Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year.

Other notable events include 30 cadets he trained who have gone on to join the military and he met nine while in the service. One cadet used her nine years in the cadets to help her excel in high school, reaching the top of her class and playing sports. She would graduate, join the Navy, attend Annapolis and become a Naval Aviator. Her acceptance into the United States Navy Academy, Annapolis was endorsed by New York State Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Congressman Joseph Crowley. The former cadet is now a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the United States Navy.

11997183_1165795240104145_681691678_nAnother event that surprised him was meeting two former cadets who joined the reserve and deployed with him. The two former cadets went on to become guest speakers for the cadets. Now Joseph’s legacy continues through both of his sons, Joseph and Jonathan, joining the SOTS-SCC.

After high school, Joseph entered the USMC in the communications field. He attained the rank of Corporal with a tour to Kuwait in Camp Commando under his belt. The knowledge that Joseph received in the cadets prepared him for his future and credits his military career for helping to form the rest of his life. Joseph reminisces with me before enlisting, the greatest thing his Marine Recruiter told him was that, “The chance is once but the change is forever.”

11995669_1165794900104179_1165160027_nIn the NYSG as a SNCO and former Marine it comes natural providing leadership to others, especially to many members who don’t have the same level of military training. Joseph states that soldiers flocked to him because of his Marine background. Recently his Unit completed an annual training event with a record high of 30 recruits testing with a total result of 96%, something that hasn’t been seen since 2008.

During this annual training the members received a week-long crash course on basic military training. He told me that there was one particular member who suffers from Asperger Syndrome, who impressed everyone with a 98% test result. Since the NYSG has a less constricted medical examination than the regular military, it allows for a more broaden selection process. In this case all members and staff were amazed with his level of military knowledge and history.

Joseph is an extraordinary individual, from his service for this great country to the individuals he has helped mold. The community service he provides is unique in that it will leave a presence for many years to come.

If you would like to join the cadet program, their 1st official meeting is September 18th.

For more information on the cadets or to contact Joseph please click here.

If you would like to be considered has a featured Veteran please contact me at Ceo@devildogusainc.org or by calling (516) 515-0240.

Gonzalo Duran
Executive Director
Devil Dog USA Incorporated
(516) 515-0240

Gonzalo Duran is CEO of Devil Dog USA Incorporated, a non-profit in the Bronx that focuses on veterans. Duran is a Veteran Columnist for The Bronx Chronicle. 

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