by Jacoby Grover

Photo by Danyelle Tillman

“Attention, right face!” the sergeant commanded”.

Henry Mannie noticed his teenage daughter, Octavia Mannie, needed a little more discipline. She needed someone to show her that sometimes, things won’t go her way, and when it doesn’t go your way, it does not mean go out and fight every time.

Mannie had a huge problem with her temper and a bad reputation of being a fighter. She wanted to fight and be disrespectful when everything didn’t go her way. Mannie’s anger became so uncontrollable, she was almost kicked out of middle school. Mannie’s father was so tired of her fighting and disrespectful behavior, he took matters into his own hands. He requested Mannie be put into a JROTC program at Murrah High School.

It was Mannie’s first week in the JROTC program when she noticed she had absolutely nothing in common with the kids. To her, the other JROTC students looked like they were genuinely interested in being there, and they actually wanted to learn about JROTC.

Mannie couldn’t care less about the program. Her mindset lasted until her second week in the class. Sgt. Reginald Chambers started to get her more involved with the program, and encouraged her to take it seriously. He saw so much potential in her.

Chambers made Mannie realize her future was too bright to keep going down the wrong path. He would make Mannie stay after school and get involved in the JROTC’s drill team. At first, Mannie did not like it, but she slowly opened up to it.

“It was plenty of times I wanted to go home, but I made a promise saying I would try. I could be at home lying in the bed asleep,” she says.

After weeks of training, Mannie realized JROTC is her passion. Mannie had finally found something she was interested in, and it kept her out of trouble, too. She had to confront some of her attitude problems from time to time, but when she got upset, she would ask herself, “Do I want to ruin my future over something that really isn’t worth it”. This routine has carried her a long way. Instead of Mannie just trying to fight all the time, she learned how to walk away and not comment on the tiniest things.

“Believe me, there were times when I wanted to punch a couple of them in their eye, but I wanted to show my sergeant that I really appreciated him for believing me. I wanted to show him that I can do more than fight, but I was also destined to do great things. Me trying to prove that point made me realize that I actually like JROTC. I even been thinking about joining the army. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my father and Sergeant Chambers. I will always thank them for stopping me from going down the wrong path. Now I just have to work on my hair color,” she laughed.

Mannie, now a sophomore at Murrah High School, let JROTC change her for the better. She learned how to better work with individuals and to be patient in the process. She quickly learned fighting is unacceptable, and nothing good comes from it. This took her a minute to realize because she thought she had something to prove. To know that her father and her sergeant still believe in her gives her hope.

“Maybe I would get the chance to tell my story to a ninth-grader, and I would get the chance to influence them how I was influenced,” she says. “I can’t wait to be able to say I inspired somebody to do the right thing and turn their life around. Everyone knows JROTC changed my life, and I’m so glad that it did. Watch out you guys, because Octavia Mannie is on a come-up.”