5/28/12 Destined for Service
Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News
Western Alamance junior Gilliam Hill is a cadet in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp. He will be spending time this summer at the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy with an eye toward attending one of the service academies for college.
DESTINED FOR SERVICE
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 5/28/12
Reprinted with permission.
Gilliam Hill hopes to attend one of the country’s five military service academies. He’s doing a lot to work toward that goal.
A junior at Western Alamance High School, he will participate in programs in June at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis , Md., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“The primary purpose is to give you a taste of what the school is like,” Hill said.
Hill is a cadet in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps — known in shorthand form as NJROTC — at Western Alamance High School. It’s the only program of its kind at a high school in Alamance County.
“The goal of the class is to instill citizenship and leadership,” he said. Hill said students receive high school credit for participating in the program, while learning skills such as marksmanship, orienteering and military drills. Teams competing in those and other areas have won many trophies on display at Western.
Besides skills relating to potential military service, he said,“we do a lot of community service,” such as picking up trash, food drives, and helping homeless people. And cadets in the program provide color guards for many events in the community.
About 110 Western students participated in the program during 2011-12.
Hill has already visited West Point and the Naval Academy, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.
“Definitely the Coast Guard Academy,” Hill said when asked which one he hopes to attend. While he plans to apply to each of the schools, he wants to serve in the Coast Guard, making that academy obvious first choice. Hill is drawn to the Coast Guard for the opportunity to save people in trouble and participate in drug interdiction and port security. But, “I’m keeping all my options open,” he said, including pursuing ROTC scholarship money he could use to attend a non-military school.
Hill is the son of Donna and David Hill. He has an older brother, Preston, and a younger sister, Haley.
His first name is pronounced the same as the last name that is prominent in parts of Alamance County — with the second “I” silent.
While Hill described his interest in military service as mainly selfdriven, it is also part of a family tradition.
“My Dad was a Marine for four years,” he said. “My uncle was a Marine for 10-plus years. My grandfather (on his mother’s side of the family) was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.”
Hill has run track and cross country at Western, which has helped keep him in shape. “I love running,” he said. “I love working out.” Off campus, he’s part of an airsoft team. He describes the activity as similar to paintball, except it makes use of plastic BB shot.