October 12, 2017


Charleston, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today joined Brigadier General Harrison B. Gilliam of the West Virginia National Guard and representatives of Capital High School for the grand opening of the school’s new JROTC challenge course. Senator Manchin met with leaders of Capital High’s Cougar Battalion last year who were working on making the course a reality. He connected them with the West Virginia National Guard, which offered to take the lead on constructing the new obstacle course.

“The mission of the U.S. Army JROTC is, ‘to motivate young people to become better citizens.’ I know that mission is carried out proudly here at Capital High School, and this new challenge course is where our young people will hone their skills, challenge themselves and one another, and become stronger as individuals and as team members,” Senator Manchin said. “Here in West Virginia, we are patriotic in the truest sense. We have more Veterans per capita than most states. Our tradition of service clearly carries on in the hearts of these young cadets. I’m so proud to join them for the opening of this course – the beginning of a new source of confidence for the proud Cougar Battalion.”

Capital High School’s JROTC program is led by Senior Army Instructor Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Owens and Army Instructor First Sergeant Robert Riley, who said the project started as an idea four years ago among cadets in the program. The challenge course, which has received support from several sponsors in the Charleston community and JROTC parents, features 18 obstacles that include a tire run, vaults, a belly crawl, and an inclined wall.

“It’s a dream come true,” First Sergeant Riley said. “I hope it will help our cadets overcome obstacles throughout their lives.”

First Sergeant Riley said Capital High School and the challenge course will host next year’s Raider Competition, where JROTC teams from across West Virginia will compete for a state-level championship.