NJROTC at Brother Martin High School, 1969 – present #BOSH

NJROTC at Brother Martin High School, 1969 – present #BOSH

NJROTC at BMHS

NJROTC

From 2008: Brother Martin High School’s NJROTC Color Guard, awaiting inspection at a drill meet. (Brother Martin High School)

NJROTC was a citizenship program

NJROTC began at St. Aloysius in the 1967-1968 school year. The unit continued in the final year on Esplanade and N. Rampart, then moved to Elysian Fields Avenue. So, when BMHS opened, all sophomores, juniors, and seniors were required to participate in NJROTC. Therefore, this meant taking Naval Science classes and drill.

The Unit

With three classes of 325+ each, the NJROTC Unit was organized as a “regiment”. In my eighth grade year (1971-1972), the regiment consisted of two battalions of four companies each. The following year, the regiment re-organized. Cadets manned two battalions of five companies each.

Regimental Reviews

To appreciate the size of the unit, visualize what you saw at a “Regimental Review”. The events happened on the back practice field. Up front was the regimental staff. A Cadet Commander (who wore five gold bars) led the regiment. An Executive Officer (C/LTCDR), two C/LT staff officers, and a Regimental CPO (C/MCPO) comprised the staff. So, the band stood behind the staff. This was the full band. Freshmen in Marching Band received the blue uniform.

Behind the band were the battalions and the color guard. Each battalion consisted of five companies of 90-100 cadets each. Each battalion had a staff consisting of a commanding officer (C/LTCDR), executive officer (C/LT), two staff C/LTJGs, and a battalion CPO (C/SCPO) So, behind the staff were the companies. Each company was commanded by a C/LT, company executive officer (C/LTJG) and had a company chief (C/SCPO). The Platoons were each commanded by a C/LTJG or a C/ENS) and a company chief (C/CPO)

The Color Guard took up a position between the battalions, behind the band. The Drill Team was close to the school building, on the right hand side. This was a Big Deal, in terms of showing off the unit to the Cold War Navy and general public.

Uniforms

All students wore the Navy-style khakis as a daily uniform. Each cadet was issued service-dress blues as well. This uniform consisted of navy blue trousers, white shirt, black necktie, and a navy blue, double-breasted six-button jacket. So, cadets wore a khaki garrison cap on drill days (and for regimental reviews in warm weather). Cover for service dress was a white combination cap.

Officers and chiefs wore their rank insignia on the collars. Senior cadets wore an anchor on each collar, juniors one anchor on the right collar. Sophomores wore no insignia.

Cadets in the unit had the option of wearing Navy-issued khakis, or buying their own uniforms at Perret’s on Royal Street. Therefore, the advantage of buying your own was you could get permanent press. The Navy-issue khakis were all-cotton, and had to be ironed.

Modern NJROTC

When my now-LT Firstborn (2006) was in NJROTC, they wore uniforms similar to the cadets in this photo. They wore a short-sleeved white shirt in warm weather, and the all-blue uniform shown here on cool-weather drill days.

Controversy

So, there was always a bit of controversy surrounding the unit. Some of the BOSH objected to the “militarization” of the school. Consequently, NJROTC prompted debate at the time of the merger. Prior to NJROTC, both St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu had no uniform. The Brothers on the CJ faculty had concerns. Making NJROTC mandatory disturbed some of the faculty. That policy changed in my senior year, 1975-1976. So, that year, NJROTC was made optional. Students had a choice, take NJROTC or PE. The size of the unit dropped to around 800, and decreased annually from there. The modern unit is organized as a company.

I wrote this from memory. My NJROTC experience has a huge gap. I was a cadet in the 70s. I picked up interest again when LT Firstborn joined as a freshman in 2001. As a result, this may be off a bit. Please share your memories of NJROTC!

St. Aloysius 1948 – Brother Cyr and his freshman class

St. Aloysius 1948 – Brother Cyr and his freshman class

St. Aloysius 1948 remembered in 1969

St. Aloysius, 1948

Brother Cyr and his Freshman Class, St. Aloysius, 1948

St. Aloysius 1948

Brother Cyr and his freshman class, 1948. St. Aloysius High School on Esplanade and N. Rampart. The school stood on that corner from 1892. It was first the old house used by the Ursulines. From 1925-1969, it was the building we all think of when we think of the Crimson and White.

Freshmen of 1948

If these young men were freshmen in the 1947-1948 school year, they were seniors in 1950-1951. So, these boys were eighteen during the Korean War. I don’t have more detail on the photo than the that it’s Brother Cyr’s class. If any of y’all can help with identification, please let me know.

While the late 1940s were not as tumultuous as the war years, they still had their moments. The economy suffered ups and downs, as the war efforts slowed down. The Atomic Age was three years old in 1948. The country debated where to go with these powerful weapons.

Brother Cyr and these young men were three years away from the invasion of Korea by the People’s Republic of China. Harry S. Truman sat in the Oval Office. FDR’s passing elevated his Vice-President in 1945. Truman stood for election in the fall of 1948. He took the oath of office a second time the next January.

Writing the BOSH Book

I encountered a number of challenges when writing Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. Hearing “all my photos are gone” was the worst. I planned to do a second book, following my 2004 streetcar title, on Gentilly. That plan derailed in 2005. The books re-appeared on my radar a few years later. I returned to the idea of a Gentilly book. Katrina wiped out so much, my resources shrank.

That’s when I switched focus. The school fared better than most of the neighborhood in 2005. I limited the scope of Gentilly to Brother Martin. Then I expanded the timeline to include the two older schools. Between the province office and the alumni office, I found enough photos to proceed.

The Crusader Yearbook of 1969

The yearbook staff at St. Aloysius produced their last edition in the spring of 1969. It documented more than just a year in the life. The staff knew this ended an era. They tapped their files, pulling up photos like Brother Cyr and his freshmen from 21 years earlier. I’m glad they did. While there were no 1948 yearbooks around in 2010, I did have those memories preserved in 1969.

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

st. aloysius panther yearbook

St. Aloysius High School, N. Rampart Street side, 1933 (BOSH photo)

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

St Aloysius Panther Yearbook in 1933 featured a shot from the N. Rampart Street side, 1933. This photo is in the St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook.

Esplanade and N. Rampart

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart operated St. Aloysius High on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and North Rampart Street from 1892 to May, 1969. The school used a mansion on the corner from 1892 to 1924. The BOSH tore down that building in 1924, replacing it with the one in the photo. So, the yearbook staff shot this photo when the school was nine years old.

Usually, photographers shot the school from the Esplanade side. This is an interesting and less-common perspective. Students use all entrances of a school during the day, depending on the bus or streetcar they take to get there. St. Aloysius had a large, paved front yard, on the Esplanade side. Students went outside for lunch and between classes.

Panthers to Crusaders

The mascot of St. Aloysius High in the early 1930s was the Panthers. The school’s colors were purple and gold. Therefore the pages of the 1933 yearbook have the purple trim you see in this image. Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, didn’t like the school using purple and gold, because those are LSU’s colors. He changed the colors to crimson and white. At the same time, Brother Martin changed the school’s mascot to “Crusaders”. The Crusader, in his white cloak with crimson cross gave the school a much more unique look.

When the BOSH opened Cor Jesu High School in 1954, they chose crimson and gold for that school’s colors. They became the Cor Jesu Kingsmen. Over the summer of 1969, the BOSH decided to use Cor Jesu’s colors and the St. Aloysius mascot for the combined school, Brother Martin High School.

Fifty Years of Brother Martin

The 2018-2019 year marks fifty years of service to the community by Brother Martin High, but it’s 150 years for the Crusaders.