Gunner Muth leaves twenty-three year legacy as JROTC leader



Richard “Gunner” Muth will be retiring this year after leading JROTC for twenty-three years

DANIELLE DENMAN, Staff Writer, Editor

Gloucester High School’s own Richard Muth, known to everyone as Gunner, is retiring after teaching JROTC classes for 23 years.

Muth has had a long and extensive career in the Marines and JROTC programs. Starting as an infantry Marine, he was a Private at the age of seventeen. He has been wearing a uniform ever since.

By the age of eighteen, he was deployed to Japan, and had already visited six countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Between trips, he was promoted to Corporal. He then reenlisted, and was promoted to the position of Sergeant at nineteen.

As a Sergeant, he was transferred to Quantico, VA, and served as an enlisted Instructor for Marine Officer Training. He was then selected for Embassy Duty, and after training was assigned to Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines – a position that only nine other Marines in Indonesia have served.

He rose to the rank of Marine Gunner, a coveted position in Marine infantry, with only one of every Battalion of about a thousand men. Before his retirement in the Marines, he had visited a total of 32 countries.

At the time of retirement, he was persuaded by a JROTC officer to start teaching at the high school level. His first job was at Gloucester High School. He left to teach at Lynn English, but returned after only two years because of his connection to the town.

“I could not leave Gloucester behind. I use the term ‘fishermen for life’,” said Muth. “Gloucester is its own thing, and people have to be in, around, and near it to understand.”

Muth says he was initially challenged by students in his class, but was able to adapt quickly and lead the classroom. After some time and experience, his perspective about what it meant to be a JROTC teacher changed.

“When I first came to the high school, I told a kid to do something, and he said no,” he said. “It is a learning experience, you have to come to the realization that the kids in your class are just the kids in your class. Your job is not to turn them into Marines, but to show leadership skills and make them better people.”

Muth has found his job to be very rewarding throughout the years, and most appreciates the outreach he has had on his students. He finds reward in improving the imperfect cadets, rather than having a perfect classroom.

“For me the biggest joy is not necessarily the super great kid…” said Muth. “Those kids will be great in our class or not. The ones that make me happy are the average to below average cadets, that I see a few years later and living a successful lives.”

Muth says good cadets should be defined not by skills, but by effort and merit.

“[Good cadets are] people who do everything they’re asked to do, as well as they possibly can,” said Muth. “That does not mean they do it better than everyone else, just as best they possibly can.”

Many JROTC students feel that Muth has left an unforgettable impact on the students and overall JROTC program as a whole.

“Gunner always preached leaving a legacy,” said GHS senior and Cadet Commanding Officer Elizabeth Schuster. “And through 23 years here, he has left a legacy that will not be forgotten.”

“Gunner has taught countless cadets many important leadership values, his main one being that: ‘leadership is in actions, not words’,” said GHS junior and JROTC Executive Officer Willow Phoenix. “These are important lessons for the cadets in the program to learn. Gunner has had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives, mine included.”

When asked about his plans for the future, Muth says he is still considering what to do with his new found free-time.

“I don’t know what I am going to do when I grow up,” said Muth. “I still love what I am doing, but at the same time, I want to get someone in here that can figure it out, and do it for a long time.”