Submitted by LTC (R) David H. Shelby
I would like to take this opportunity to nominate SGM (R) Donald R. Hunter for recognition as an outstanding United States Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp Army Instructor. SGM (R) Hunter is an Army Instructor at the North Little Rock (AR) High School. The High School has a student population of approximately 3,000. At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the JROTC program had 188 students enrolled.
SGM (R) Hunter came to North Little Rock High School during the 2020-2021 school year. At the time, there was only SGM (R) Hunter and the Senior Army Instructor as Cadre. Steps were taken to hire a third Army Instructor; however, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a third instructor was not hired. Prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the Senior Army Instructor resigned to become the Senior Army Instructor at another school. SGM (R) Hunter assumed the duties of two (2) instructors and the Senior Army Instructor.
SGM (R) Hunter demonstrated total commitment to the JROTC program by continuing the mission of the JROTC program in the face of a severe personnel shortage. SGM (R) Hunter had never been trained to fulfill the duties of a Senior Army Instructor but he was not deterred. He recognized the importance of confronting this challenge head-on and began working with staff members of Cadet Command and 5th Brigade to learn this role while conducting classes; supervising and mentoring students; meeting community service hours, supervising the Color Guard and Raider Teams.
SGM (R) Hunter’s actions were noted by students and exemplified the Army values of Duty; Selfless Service; Honor and Integrity. His actions inspired and instilled leadership in his students as well as all who came into contact with him. SGM (R) Hunter’s concern for the well-being of his students is remarkable. During the school year he encountered three (3) different students who wanted to harm themselves. SGM (R) Hunter counseled and mentored these students and assisted them in obtaining the appropriate assistance to prevent them from self-harm. His concern was also demonstrated on the evening of May 17, 2022, immediately following the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022. SGM (R) Hunter, two female Color Guard members and I were loading our Color Guard equipment into our vehicle to return to the school. A vehicle drove past us at a high rate of speed and the front seat passenger leaned out of the open window and began firing a handgun into a crowd of attendees as they walked to their vehicles. This incident occurred 20 to 30 yards from where we were loading our equipment. SGM (R) Hunter did not hesitate to expose himself to the gunfire to force our two Color Guard members to the ground and shield them with his body. Neither SGM (R) Hunter nor the students were injured.
SGM (R) Hunter is the most professional Non-Commissioned Officer I have had the privilege of serving with during my 32 years of service. He is deserving of recognition for his service to the United States Army; the JROTC program and his community.
LTC (R) David H. Shelby
Senior Army Instructor
North Little Rock High School