SAVANNAH, Ga. -- In a solemn ceremony Thursday morning outside Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, JROTC cadets lowered the U.S. and Georgia state flags to half-staff in memory of graduate and U.S. Army Reservist Sgt. Breonna Moffett, one of three Georgia reservists killed in the Jordan drone attack.
Moffett, who died a week after her 23rd birthday, was remembered by Windsor Forest administrators and staff as a leader and a model student. Army officials announced Tuesday that she had been posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
“Breonna was a drum major and cadet leader in our JROTC and she truly orchestrated the rhythm and discipline of teamwork that I know she carried with her in her continued service to our country,” said her former principal, Derrick Butler.
The staff and students at Windsor Forest, known affectionately as “the castle,” quickly organized Thursday’s ceremony after getting news of Moffett’s death. About 50 people attended. Moffett was among three reservists, all from Georgia, killed when an explosive drone hit a logistics base in northeast Jordan on the Syrian border. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of militias backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack.
During a Thursday briefing, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III said the attack hit living quarters on the American base near the Syrian border. He added there would be a multitiered response from the United States, though he did not elaborate.
“The president will not tolerate attacks on American troops and neither will I,” Austin said.
The Savannah ceremony included the playing of Taps, remarks from staff and administrators who knew Moffett and a soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by her former band director. A photo of Moffett and a spray of red, white and blue flowers sat beside the podium, which was flanked by a large contingent of JROTC cadets in formation.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Michael Busteed, the high school’s JROTC advisor, described Moffett as a natural leader who could get things done.
“When I saw her in the hall, I almost saluted her,” Butler said. “She was very serious and very disciplined. And she carried with her those core values I know her family instilled in her.”
“I tell my students, you need to choose your friends wisely because they can either bring you forward or pull you back,” Busteed said. “Everyone that chose Breonna as a friend was brought forward. They were made a better person. They made a smart choice of making her their friend.”
The ceremony was capped by the presentation of unit coins to Moffett’s family members. Busteed explained that unit coins, also known as challenge coins, are presented to unit members in recognition of “excellence or performance above and beyond the call of duty.”
Several members of Moffett’s family were present to receive the coins, including her sister, aunt and grandmother, but her parents were not able to attend as they traveled to Delaware for the dignified transfer of Moffett’s remains at Dover Air Force Base on Friday. In addition to Austin, President Joe Biden will attend the transfer ceremony after speaking to Moffett’s parents, along with family members of the other soldiers, earlier this week.
Even after she graduated, Busteed said, Moffett would return to her high school to help train the JROTC color guard as a volunteer. The cadets in the color guard acquitted themselves well Thursday morning, performing the flag ceremony without flaw.
“Her senior year, when she came and told me, ‘Sir, I think I’d like to join the Army Reserves,’ I was very proud of her,” Busteed said. “I knew that the Army was getting a great soldier, and they did have a great soldier who served honorably.”
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