JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The commander of Jacksonville's Mandarin High Naval Junior ROTC Program said cutting the program came as a surprise.
"I just learned about it last week," said Cmdr. Glen Akins, a retired naval flight officer, who taught the Naval Junior Reserve Training Officer Corps at Mandarin High for nearly a decade.
"ROTC is a good course; it teaches discipline, leadership and responsibility to kids," said Akins.
On Aug. 1, Akins will retire, but he would like to see the program remain. He finds it difficult to believe that the budget crunch is the real issue behind the program being cut at four area high schools.
Akins said the U.S. Navy pays 50 percent of his salary and it meets most of the students' needs.
"The Navy pays for all of the computers and text books and our transportation. We have a lot of drills we go to, that's all paid for by the Navy," said Akins.