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“Something important": Newton teen earns highest rank in military-styled youth organization
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From left, father Scott Woodall and mother Brooke Woodall surround Trent Woodall after his pinning ceremony Saturday at American Legion Post 233 in Loganville. - photo by Tom Spigolon

LOGANVILLE, Ga. — He has worked toward this day since age 11.

Now, Eastside High School junior Trent Woodall has moved up to the rank of chief petty officer — the highest rank attainable — in a national youth leadership development organization called the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC).

Woodall’s parents, Scott and Brooke Woodall, pinned his new rank on his uniform during a Saturday ceremony at American Legion Post 233 in Loganville.

It was only the 10th pinning ceremony in the national program’s 63-year history, said Commanding Officer Lt. Carol Smith of the 233rd Seabee Battalion.

“I couldn’t have done it without all the cadets here,” Trent Woodall said.

The new rank designates more authority for Woodall in the organization after his promotion from petty officer first class (PO1).

Officials in the organization’s National Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, approved Woodall’s new rank upon a recommendation from Smith.

The Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) is for ages 13 to 17 and includes a junior program, the Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC), for ages 10 through 13. 

It is sponsored by the Navy League of the United States, which is a national association that advocates “for a strong, credible United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine.”

“The objectives of the Sea Cadet Program are to introduce youth to naval life, to develop in them a sense of pride, patriotism, courage and self-reliance, and to maintain an environment free of drugs and gangs,” according to information from the organization.

Battalion Instructor Tiffany Walters said NSCC seeks to promote interest and skill in military disciplines “while instilling strong moral character and life skills through leadership and technical programs modeled after the Navy's professional development system.”

Woodall, who has participated in the program since age 11, completed coursework, training, 180 hours of volunteer work, and spent required times in rank and service to gain the honor, she said. 

“Trent has been in the program for seven (years) and has completed all of these steps, among showing leadership skills, military knowledge, and a strong desire to grow,” Walters said.

Woodall said he began participating in the Corps out of a “drive to help others.”

“I always wanted to do something important in my life and I thought this was a way,” he said.

He said he plans to attend the University of North Georgia, which is Georgia’s designated public military college, to prepare for enlistment in the Army.

The local unit of the volunteer organization, the 233rd Seabee Battalion, is based in Loganville and includes 16 cadets from ages 10 to 17 who travel from throughout east and northeast Georgia to participate. 

It sponsors monthly military-styled drills from August through May every year with advanced trainings during the summer months and over winter break from school, Walters said.

Examples include medical training, airman and seaman training, construction, submarines and more, according to information from the local Battalion.

“These trainings are held across the country and run by active duty military who volunteer their time and our adult volunteers during the winter and summer.”

It also typically performs color guard duties for both the annual Covington Police Department Fuzz Run and the Cheerios Challenge 10K and 5K runs in Newton County, as well as events American Legion Post 233 hosts in Loganville such as an annual Legion Riders Memorial Day motorcycle ride, Walters said. 

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From left, Brooke and Scott Woodall pin son Trent’s new rank on his Naval Sea Cadet Corps uniform Saturday during a ceremony in Loganville. - photo by Tom Spigolon
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From left, brother Grant, father Scott, sister Blair and mother Brooke surround Trent Woodall after his pinning ceremony Saturday at American Legion Post 233 in Loganville. - photo by Tom Spigolon