The Purcellville division of a national naval youth education program recently achieved top honors.
The town’s Viking Division of the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps outranked 394 other divisions to win the designation of top unit in the country.
The two-year-old unit’s achievement comes after a summer of training courses and an annual inspection that covers everything from cadet conduct to accuracy of personnel files and recruiting ability.
“Having been designated the best unit in the country is a testament to all the hard work the cadets, their parents and our adult volunteers have put into our young program,” said Viking Division Executive Officer Chad Ellis. “Now that our program has matured and grown, we are looking forward to being a more visible presence in our community.”
After being named the nation’s top unit, the division of 52 cadets was invited to the U.S. Navy SEAL East Coast Reunion in Little Creek in July. Cadets interacted with SEALs, observed operations and tried out the SEAL obstacle course.
“It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to meet guys who have worked so hard to be SEALs,” said Petty Officer Second Class Nathan Ellis, 16. “It isn’t something most teenagers ever get to do.”
During summer, cadets attended 30 different trainings across the country, including courses in field operations, aviation and petty officer leadership.
Two cadets were also chosen to represent the U.S. in an international exchange with Australian Sea Cadets. One of them was Chief Petty Officer and VIKING Division Senior Cadet Skyler Powell, 17.
“My trip to Australia … opened my eyes to just how big the world is,” she said. “Being able to represent the US. was an honor and a privilege I will never forget.”
The USNSCC is a federally-chartered, national youth program established in 1962 to “create a favorable image of the Navy on the part of American youth.” It is sponsored by the Navy League of the United States and jointly supported by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
Today, the program instructs more than 10,000 cadets from the age of 13 through completion of high school.
The Viking Division was established in 2015 and is now sponsored by the National Capitol Council of the Navy League of the United States.