Magna Vista High School JROTC cadets participate in prestigious wreath-laying

Cadets laid wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Wednesday

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – "I didn't realize until we had gotten back how huge of an honor that was. It was definitely an amazing experience," Magna Vista High School JROTC Cadet 1st Sgt. Hunter Nolen said about laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Nolen was one of three cadets invited to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington on Wednesday.

The American Legion post in Henry County invited the cadets to lay the wreath after the cadets accepted the legion's invitation to attend the funeral of Henry County veteran Col. (ret.) Earl Eanes, who was being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cadet Lt. Col. Amairani Romero struggled to find words to describe the honor.

"I wasn't nervous until afterwards, because it's just such a big deal. I'm speechless," Romero said. "I'm going to think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm going to to think of how lucky I am for us to be the ones."

Eanes was originally from Fieldale in northern Henry County.

At the time of his death, he was living in Lynchburg.

He was in the Marine Corps. during World War II and joined the Army afterwards, retiring in 1985.

He also served in the Korean War, where he received a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy.

To lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you have to request permission from the cemetery.

All three cadets say getting to honor the soldiers who came before them is motivational.

"If I don't feel like I can do any more or I'm not at my best, I can do better than this, I can keep pushing myself because of what they did. They died for us to be here, so what can I do," Cadet 1st Sgt. Christopher Robinson said.

"I ship out for basic June 10 and I feel like when I finally get there I will use this as my motivation. When I feel like I can't handle any more, when I feel like quitting, or 'Why am I here,' I'm going to have a reason," Nolen said. "I'm going to say, 'Because those guys, they would want me to continue. They would want me to better myself.'"

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