By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Angeles School Board approved a one-year contract for Capt. Jonathan Picker as senior naval science instructor to replace the departing Marine Corps Maj. Leo Campbell, who led the unit — the only ROTC on the North Olympic Peninsula — to national honors.
Picker is in Lisbon, Portugal, an active-duty officer assigned to the decommissioning and closure of the NATO joint military base there.
He is expected to visit Port Angeles next month and move to the area in August.
A helicopter pilot who also has been commanding officer for the Navy Center for Personal and Professional Development, Amphibious Squadron 1 and Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 6, Picker served as air boss of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship and vertical take-off and landing aircraft carrier.
He has a master's degree in campaign planning and strategy, and a bachelor's in geography and cartography from the University of Washington.
He received his commission after completing training at UW with the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps Husky Battalion.
The naval rank of captain is equivalent to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
A public farewell for Campbell is scheduled at the NJROTC awards ceremony at 6 p.m. May 31 in the Port Angeles High School gymnasium, 304 E. Park Ave.
Under Campbell's leadership, the unit achieved a 98 percent on-time graduation rate for cadets with four years in the unit.
The Roughrider Company received the Distinguished Unit with Honors Award, announced April 23, for the seventh year in a row.
The award marks the unit as being among the top 10 percent of units in the nation.
An international search for Campbell's replacement attracted a strong selection of candidates who were first approved by the Navy.
Then the list was narrowed to six finalists interviewed by a Port Angeles High School selection committee in April.
The six included a former U.S. Naval Academy instructor, a former college ROTC instructor, a U.S. Coast Guard captain and other highly qualified individuals, Campbell said.
Campbell, who has led Roughrider Company for 10 years, was selected as a 2013 Clallam County Community Service Award recipient in recognition of thousands of service hours in the Port Angeles community, both as an individual and through activities as leader of the NJROTC unit.
The School Board granted Campbell a one-year leave of absence in March to travel to South Dakota for surgery for service-related knee injuries, but days after the approval, Campbell learned that recovery will take more than a year.
Campbell said he is unlikely to return to Port Angeles, instead staying in South Dakota so that future treatment for his injuries will be readily available.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.