ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement is the highest honor a Navy Junior ROTC cadet can earn.
Only two are handed out each year in Area 8, which includes 49 schools and over 5,000 cadets from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle, so for a cadet from Robertsdale High School to receive the award would be a rare honor.
But for the school to have a cadet receive the honor two years in a row would be virtually unheard of, but that’s exactly what happened.
On Aug. 9, before a crowd of teachers from schools throughout Baldwin County gathered at the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale, RHS NJROTC Commander Frank Starr announced that cadet William Gage Doty had received the award, given each year by the Legion of Valor of the United States of America Inc., an organization made up solely of Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, and the Air Force Cross.
Doty thought he was there with the RHS NJROTC Color Guard to present the U.S. colors for the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I had done that several times before, so I was OK with that,” said the 17-year-old son of Lori and Steven Doty of Robertsdale, who just began his senior year at RHS. “I didn’t know I would be receiving the award.
“It was nice to be recognized in front of all of my teachers. Several of them came up and congratulated me afterward and I really appreciate that.”
While the award is rare, even more rare is the fact that Cadet Keanan Ard, a 2019 graduate of RHS, received the award last year.
“He’s like my brother,” Doty said. “I followed him as Rho Kappa Honor Society President and when I found out he was getting the award last year, I told him that I was going to get it too and do it better.”
Doty said Ard was a tremendous help in applying for the award and doing what he needed to receive the award.
In addition to Rho Kappa Honor Society, Doty serves as the battalion commander for the RHS NJROTC, responsible for nearly 200 cadets. He also serves as secretary for the RHS National Honor Society and is responsible for establishing the school’s Science National Honor Society.
He attended Boys State at the University of Alabama and is a graduate of the NJROTC Leadership Academy. At the end of his junior year, Doty had a 3.82 cumulative GPA and is heavily involved in community service, accumulating over 200 hours in the past two years and is a member of the unit’s color guard.
“Both Ard and Doty are fine young men with a great work ethic,” Starr said, adding in his introduction of Doty, “He is a humble leader who challenges his fellow cadets, his uniform is always impeccable, and his resume is that of an outstanding cadet in an outstanding unit.”
Provided by the Legion of Valor of the United States of America Inc., an organization made up solely of recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross, the award is given to just two cadets from each of the NJROTC’s 11 districts nationally each year. To be eligible for the Legion of Valor’s Medal of Honor, nominees must:
• Be a member of the junior class and enrolled in his/her third year of NJROTC.
• Have an NJROTC class standing within the top 25 percent.
• Have a school academic standing in the top 25 percent of the junior classs.
• Have demonstrated outstanding military leadership qualities.
According to NJROTC regulations, nominees are recommended to their respective Area Manager who can select only two cadets per year.
Doty was recommended for the award by Starr RHS’s NJROTC Senior Instructor.
Doty said his goal after graduation was to join the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and said he wants to be a boarding officer.
“If I am fortunate enough to have a career with the Coast Guard, when I retire, I want to go into law enforcement,” he said. “If the Coast Guard doesn’t work out that’s probably what I’ll do.”
Another of his Naval Science instructors at RHS, Petty Officer Erin Pate, was a Coast Guard boarding officer, Doty said.
“I heard him talk about it and decided that’s what I want to do,” he said. “Boarding officers are also certified law enforcement officers, so I thought if I’m going into law enforcement that will give me some experience going in.”