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thedrifter
08-11-09, 08:01 AM
Billerica students come together for ROTC program
By Shawn Hansen/Correspondent
Mon Aug 10, 2009, 03:48 PM EDT

Billerica, Mass. - The Facebook tribute page for the Billerica Marines Junior Corps Reserve Officer Training Corps [MJCROTC] tells a story.
It’s about a group of Billerica Memorial High School students who got together to learn military skills. Many of the comments on that page reminisce about the times spent traveling to Quantico once a year to spend a week seeing what the Marine way of life was all about.
But many more talk about the man who led this group, Master Gunnary Sgt. William Bradley Jr., who passed away in 1997.
In 1971, Bradley and Col. Fred Saucier organized this class at the high school. For 18 years Bradley instructed the program with a number of different partners, but was the main Marine everyone looked up to. The class ran until 1988.
Talking about the class itself, Bradley’s daughter Sharon Bradley Rukes of Patomac Falls, Virginia says,
“In the class we would learn military drills, team organization, and how to shoot rifles,” said Bradley’s daughter, Sharon Bradley Rukes of Potomac Falls, Va.
Rukes explained that in the class they would get to leave school grounds, and shoot once a week with their instructors.


Life lessons
“Once a year we would go to Quantico, Virginia, spend a week there and feel what it was like to be in the Marine Corps,” Rukes said.
At Quantico, MJCROTC members would be involved in physical fitness skills and obstacle courses.
“It taught us principles of honor, discipline, and patriotism in the tradition of the United States Marine Corps,” said Dan Selenius of Lawrence, class of 1988.
Mike Flynn, now a resident of Shawnee, Kan. was enrolled in the Billerica MJCROTC program from 1985-1988.
“I came in the fall of 1985, my sophomore year,” said Flynn. “I was actually in the Waltham program my freshman year, and then we moved to Billerica in 1985.”
Being a son of a Marine, Flynn’s inspiration to join the program grew rapidly.
Flynn said that he thought it was really cool that they were wearing their dress blues, and that they looked sharp.
Remembering Sergeant William J. Bradley Jr., Flynn said, “He was a role model who was very good with people, and students. If you had a problem, you could go to Bradley, and he would talk you through it. Everyone looked up to him.”

The man behind the mission
Born in Massachusetts, Bradley lived in Lowell until the age of 12 when his family moved to Berkeley, Calif. He attended middle school and high school in California, and moved on to Bentley College graduating with a business degree in 1977.
After Bentley, he attended Boston College graduating in 1983 with a masters degree in guidance. He was an active Marine for 25 years, worked with the police honor guard, was a Boy Scout troop leader, and helped start the Yankee Doodle parade in town in the early 1980s. When retiring from the Marines in 1971, Bradley decided to form a class teaching students about the Marines.
Honoring their mentor
On Sasturday, Aug. 1, there was a reunion held at the Billerica Elks honoring Bradley. It was hosted by Selenius.
“It was very well-attended. There was also former Marines from the Waltham High School ROTC program,” said Rukes.
Waltham ROTC alumni was invited to the event that hosted around 70 people. At the event, for the children there was a waterslide, softball, and music.
“It was a great way to get together with old friends, and share memories,” said Selenius.
The event included a presentation to Rukes’ mother, a flag displayed in a case as a plaque. The flag was flown over a fort in Afghanistan in honor of her father.
Through a Facebook page, alumni speak out about the reunion saying how much they enjoyed the event.
“A big thanks to Dan Selenius for a very successful reunion, it was great seeing everyone, and it wouldn't have been possible without Billerica. We owe you guys,” wrote Tom Robinson.
“From the class of ’82, (Hail and Well Met). I won't be able to make the trip for the reunion, but wanted someone to raise a toast from me in memory of Sergeant Bradley. Long live the memory of Gunney Bradley,” wrote William Gorman.
If anyone would like to share memories with fellow classmates, enter Billerica MJCROTC on the Facebook search page.
“Finally thank you Gunny Bradley for teaching us all,” wrote Balkan.

Ellie