Topeka West JROTC team no longer the underdog

The TWHS JROTC team competed against about 60 other schools and placed eighth in the nation.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 12:48 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Teamwork, discipline, and accountability are what makes the Topeka West JROTC program one of the best in the nation.

Earlier this year they travelled to Denver, CO to compete in the Rocky Mountain All Service Drill Nationals. This invitational event is one of the biggest of the season with about 60 teams from across the country competing in all sectors of the military.

Competition was fierce but they were confident and determined to make a name for themselves. By the end of the competition, they certainly had.

“We placed eighth overall out of the entire nation, making us the eighth best team in the nation.” said the teams commander, Zachary Buffington.

Abigail Letterman is in charged of their unarmed exhibition commander, she says that despite the nerves, she had a good feeling about their performance.

“It was really chaotic and it was really important that we all put in our effort. I was really nervous but I was really excited because I knew we would do good.”

Topeka Wests’ army instructor, 1st Sgt. Johnnie Fields, emphasizes the importance of acting as a team, supporting one another, and holding each other accountable to his cadets. He believes that with these things in mind, his students can do whatever they set their minds to.

“It’s making sure you’re a team, holding each other accountable for their actions. Regardless if they’re the best driller or the weakest driller, you hold them accountable for their actions and believe in them. These kids can do whatever you guys want them to do.”

Sgt. Fields and his cadets aim to build on this success for next year and compete in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Inquires regarding performances or demonstrations from the Topeka West JROTC team can be sent to