Interview with Riverside's Senior Army Instructor, LTC(R) Lee

Jody Wilson, Alumni Engagement Coordinator
In the fall of 2021, Riverside Military Academy welcomed Lieutenant Colonel(R) David Lee as Riverside's Senior Army Instructor (SAI). Lee is an Emory University School of Law graduate and has most recently served with the United States Army as Chief of Administrative Law, advising the First Army Chief of Staff and First Army Commanding General. He has also served as an attorney advisor to Soldiers undergoing the Army's Disability Evaluation System, as well as various other legal positions.

From 2006 to 2014, he taught legal concepts and provided legal advice to over 300 leaders in the Army. In addition to his Juris Doctor in law, he earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration and an MBA from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and a Master of Laws (LLM) in military science with a specialty in administrative law from The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School.

Jody Wilson (JW): Welcome! We appreciate your time today.
David Lee (DL): It is my pleasure to meet with you and have this discussion. Thank you for the invite.

 Briefly tell us about the JROTC program at Riverside.
DL: Our JROTC program has been around almost as long as JROTC has existed. JROTC was founded in 1916, and our program began here at Riverside in 1918. So our program is steeped in history and tradition. We are an Honor Unit with Distinction and have held that recognition since the 1950s. We've celebrated two Raider National teams this year; our A team won Nationals in the Master's Division, and our B team won Nationals in the Challenge Division. We also have competitive drill and air rifle teams. Through the generosity of two recent major gifts, the G.C. Fisher Rifle Marksmanship Center will be experiencing some upgrades to improve safety and bring our range up to modern standards with an electronic lift system, and we are very excited about that. 

Our program has four instructors, including myself, who are all retired Army Soldiers. Our specialties include Infantry, Special Forces, Logistics, Recruiting, Aviation, and Legal. While our mission is to make better citizens and not to recruit for the Armed Forces, we are more than equipped and capable of assisting any of our cadets that express an interest in entering the military, whether by Service Academy, Senior Military College, ROTC, or enlistment.  

 I understand that for the first time, eighth-grade cadets will be required to take JROTC.
DL: That is correct. The Army JROTC program has allowed 8th graders to participate in JROTC as of August 2022.  And true to Riverside's history with JROTC, we will be adding 8th graders to our program in January 2023, five months after the program opened to 8th graders. We are very excited about this new addition to the program as we have had many inquiries about 8th graders participating in JROTC sports. Adding them to our program will allow them to learn from the JROTC curriculum and participate in any of our three JROTC Sports (Raiders, Rifle, and Drill).  

 Other than the coursework, what activities does JROTC participate in at Riverside?
DL: JROTC is involved in several activities at Riverside. Our color guard annually participates in the Sandy Beaver Entrepreneurial Leadership Awards (SBELA) dinner, Green Street Parade in Gainesville, and most award programs we have on campus. Our drill team has performed during Parent's Weekend, Homecoming, and the SBELA dinner.  We have also conducted service learning projects which last year was packing shoeboxes for Christmas to provide to less fortunate children in other countries.  

 Riverside is now using Riverside Preparatory Academy in marketing materials. How does this change affect the military aspects of the Academy?
DL: There is no change to the military learning model and what we offer in terms of leadership in the JROTC department. We will continue to instill leadership, discipline, and self-respect in our cadets. The name may have changed for marketing, but our core offerings remain the same.  

 Since your arrival in 2019, what accomplishment of you, your team, or the cadets are you most proud of?
DL: I am most proud to see our corps become more professional. We have presented the cadets with more opportunities to get out and represent Riverside as professionals in various professional sporting arenas, local municipalities, and internationally. The leadership displayed by the cadets is very rewarding.