PROGRAM HISTORY

The charter for the Orange High School Marine Corps JROTC Program was obtained by Master Gunnery Sergeant James H. FEARNS (USMC Ret.) during his term on the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees.

In July 1995, MGySgt FEARNS petitioned the Marine Corps for a charter to begin a Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at Orange High School (at the time of his request, not a single Marine Corps Junior ROTC unit had been established at any high school in Orange County).  Despite numerous discussions with several high-ranking Marine Corps officials, his request was repeatedly denied.  He finally sought an appointment directly with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak.  When the General declined to provide him with an appointment, MGySgt FEARNS flew to Washington D.C. at his own expense, appeared in the General’s office without an appointment, and informed the General’s aide that he was prepared to wait as long as necessary to receive a personal audience with the Commandant.  After two full days of waiting, the Commandant finally agreed to see MGySgt FEARNS, who persuaded him to issue the charter that same day – marking the starting point for this program at Orange High School.

Upon his return from Washington, D.C., MGySgt FEARNS enlisted the support of his close friend and colleague on the Board of Trustees, Major Robert VIVIANO (USMC Ret.) to set up the framework necessary to implement the successful launch of this program.

On June 5, 2003, the Orange Unified School District held a ceremony honoring MGySgt FEARNS and Maj VIVIANO for their work in founding and maintaining the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at Orange High School, and dedicating the ROTC facilities in their honor.  At this ceremony, both men were presented with a joint Resolution passed by the California State Assembly and California State Senate honoring their efforts, and were awarded the Meritorious Public Service Medal by the Marine Corps in recognition of their “steadfast determination, selfless dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC Program”.

LtCol RUTHENBERG’S account of MGySgt FEARNS obtaining the OHS-MCJROTC Charter
Marine Corps Meritorious Public Service Award
County of Orange Proclamation
California State Assembly and Senate Proclamation