GREENVILLE — This spring, Naval Junior ROTC (NJROTC) students at Greenville High School found themselves saluting a new commander.
U.S. Navt Lt. (Ret.) Richard “Rick” Kuehner has taken charge of the program, replacing the retiring Keith Denman as Senior Naval Science Instructor. He joins current Naval Science Instructor Chief Petty Officer Stephen Eldred in the classroom.
Kuehner, 41, is an Ohio native, having grown up in Cincinnati before marching with the Army for 10 years, attending college, then setting sail with the Navy for additional 10 years. As part of his military deployments, he’s lived in Germany, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Sicily, as well as many other stopovers ranging from Asia to the Caribbean.
After experiencing so many diverse places in the world, why did Kuehner decide upon Greenville High School?
“It’s close to home,” he said. “After 20 years living across the world, being close to home is important. Almost my entire family still lives in the area.”
He is currently looking to purchase a home in the Oakwood area with his fiance Nancy.
In addition to Greenville’s proximity to family, Kuehner noted his desire to be involved with NJROTC.
“NJROTC is a great program,” he said. “It gives kids so many options, an outlook on life. You have valedictorians, athletes, those who have done nothing, all working together.”
“It ties together a little bit of every class they’re taking — civics, history, science,” he explained. “The beauty of it is, the program is roughly the same everywhere you go. It provides so much information you can’t possibly get through all the materials.”
Though Kuehner says he will look proudly upon NJROTC students who eventually decide to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces, that isn’t necessarily his goal.
“I don’t care if they join the military or not,” he said. “I get the most satisfaction of creating well-rounded citizens, who go comfortably from here to the rest of their life. I judge success on if they can make informed, educated decisions.”
“The program teaches self-respect, independence, a desire to always learn more. Helping them understand early what it takes to look into the things they want to do in life,” he added.
Greenville’s NJROTC students is looking to raise funds, with the hopes of possibly taking a trip to Washington, D.C. among other planned activities.
One of the fundraising efforts is a spaghetti dinner to be held at the Greenville Masonic Lodge No. 143 on April 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. All proceeds from the event benefit the NJROTC. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. The lodge is located at 200 Memorial Drive in Greenville.
For more on NJROTC happenings, visit its website at www.greenvillenjrotc.com.