Lt. Colonel (Retired) Darrell Crawford, who has been heading the Junior ROTC program at RHS, has resigned to be involved in the war effort and followup.
Crawford resigned effective Monday, March 17, to take a position helping rebuild the country of Iraq after the hostilities have ended.
"I loved the work at RHS and did not leave due to any dissatisfaction with the students, teachers or administration," Crawford tells the N-D&L. "I left because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity I just couldn't pass up."
Crawford left his Auburn home and Russellville job on very short notice, having been notified only five days before he departed. He spent last week in Washington, D.C. and is scheduled to move to Kuwait this week where his team will follow U.S. forces to Bagdad.
"Our job will be to help in the reconstruction of the country," Crawford says. "Specifically, my team is responsible for reoganizing the Iraqui Army and having them help in the reconstruction effort. It's a unique job."
Crawford has experience in a project like this. He performed a similar role in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998. He has also served in Bosnia, Kuwait and Germany in recent years.
He served 20 years in the Army, including over seven years in Special Operations. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies where he earned a Master of Military Art and Science in strategic planning. He is a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm.
Although his departure came quickly, Crawford had been helping make certain that the RHS JROTC was covered. He found a retired Army officer, Major (Retired) Keith Haas, who lives in Clarksville to be his substitute until the end of the year.
"He is certified to teach JROTC and is highly qualified," Crawford said. "He will continue the scheduled iI planned and will probably add improvements of his own."
JROTC students at RHS spent last week interviewing military veterans. This week they will visit the National Battlefield at Shiloh, Tenn.
Because of funding shortfalls, the JROTC program was almost ended last year by the school's Site Based Decision Making Council, but by a split vote the board of education found the funds to keep it going this year.
The program also faces the possibility of being eliminated for next school year.
Sgt. Jim Austin also works with Russellville High School's JROTC.