201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


New JROTC teacher brings experience

Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Pearce loves three things: his family, the military and motorcycles. Stemming from his dirt-biking hobby when he was 14, Pearce spends time riding his cruiser and exploring national parks for motorcycle roads.

Lt. Col. Jerry Pearce (Photo courtesy of Jerry Pearce)

He is just as passionate about teaching.

Pearce was hired in February to replace Lt. Col. Mike Albertson and lead the JROTC program here at Fullerton. Pearce said he never knew that joining the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), a college leadership program for the military, would result in him spending over two decades teaching high school JROTC cadets.

Pearce was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, but moved six times before sixth grade because his father was in the Army. Pearce’s family finally settled down in Oklahoma.

“Although my dad had just returned home from Vietnam, he volunteered to go back just to keep my family in Oklahoma,” Pearce said. “He had sacrificed himself to go to war for a second time to keep his family in a stable environment.”

Pearce continued his schooling in Oklahoma until he graduated high school. Pearce’s father was then stationed in Hawaii; his family followed, and Pearce attended the University of Hawaii. 

In college, Pearce was drawn to the ROTC booth because of the activities. 

Pearce spent most of his time in the military as a part of the 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion. Pictured is an M109 howitzer firing during a training exercise ((Photo courtesy of Jerry Pearce))

“At the college level, it is very adventurous with all the rappelling and ziplining and helicopters,” Pearce said. “With all the opportunities that they had, it was very enticing to me.”

Pearce took up ROTC and received a scholarship in exchange for a commitment to the Army. Four years later, he graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and was commissioned as a second lieutenant specializing in field artillery.

Pearce spent his four-year commitment stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma then Monterey, California. At the end of his initial commitment, Pearce could have left the Army, but he decided to continue his service. He spent his next 18 years rotating among various assignments, including Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Germany.

“[The military] was very familiar to me,” Pearce said. “I came from a family where serving and giving back to the country was very important.”

Pearce loved being in uniform, but it was during his last five years of service that he discovered his love for teaching.

(Left to right) Jerry Pearce’s son Taylor, daughter Brittany, wife Ann, and son Kyle. Pearce and Ann have been married for 25 years. Although his children never went into the military, Pearce ensured they learned the importance of leadership and giving back to the community. ( (Photo courtesy of Jerry Pearce))

In 1996, Pearce was stationed at USC as a professor of military science teaching cadets. He also ran the school’s ROTC program, where his job was to recruit students to USC, award scholarships, and oversee the high school JROTC programs at 15 different schools.

Pearce was originally only meant to be stationed at USC for three years, but the program was doing so well that he appealed to the Army and extended his assignment by another year. He did the same for his fifth year, but was ultimately denied for a sixth year; the Army gave him a new assignment in Korea.

“I had served in the Army for 22 years at that point and I feel like I had neglected my family for a long time,” Pearce said. “You’re traveling and a lot of times leaving family behind. I wanted to make a change in my life at that time and make my family happy.

Pearce gives a Memorial Day speech during a flag-folding ceremony at Western High School. ( (Photo courtesy of Jerry Pearce))

Pearce retired from the military in 2001, but he found a new career in education. Pearce became a JROTC teacher at Western High School in the Anaheim Union High School District, where he spent his next 22 years teaching before coming to Fullerton.

¨I like working with students,¨ Pearce said.¨I’m developing the future leaders of our country and I take that very seriously.¨

In JROTC, Pearce’s job is to motivate young people to be better citizens and help students become more successful, whether it be in school, relationships, or with friends and peers. He follows the Army acronym LDRSHIP: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Sophomore Ian Cruz was promoted to Cadet Command Sergeant Major; he will represent cadets and ensure activities run smoothly. Other leaders selected for next year include Karen Zimmerman as battalion commander (left), special teams commander Gregory Patlan and executive officer Ashley Nava (not pictured). (Photo courtesy of Laura Rubio)

Sophomore Ian Cruz, who will be next year’s battalion command sergeant major, has learned to be more disciplined thanks to Pearce.

“[Pearce] helped me understand how to properly address someone,” Cruz said. “Before he came, I would always report in incorrectly. As in, I would not address them as ma’am or sir. He helped me understand how to be more educated in a military manner.”

Pearce is excited to work at Fullerton and lead the JROTC program. The cadets have already done well, scoring 99.88% during an accreditation that took place in March. 

“That’s why I enjoy teaching,” Pearce said. “It’s teaching these life skills and trying to make it where these students are more successful as they leave Fullerton High School and go on to do bigger, better things and be able to compete out there. It’s getting tough and I’m here to make their future easier.”

(Left) Lt. Col. Jerry Pearce enjoys hiking, including in Arches National Park, Utah. One of Pearce’s hobbies is riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Peace has been in love with motorcycles since he was 14. (Photos courtesy of Jerry Pearce)
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