Col. Edward Dowgin has taken over as leader of the Cape High JROTC program, succeeding Col. Ronald Erale, who retired after 29 years as instructor.
Following in Erale’s footsteps is amazing, Dowgin said.
“Col. Erale started this program when I began in the military,” Dowgin said.
Dowgin, an experienced football coach, said he loves working with kids. Active military careers only last so long, he said, so he had begun thinking about what to do after retiring when Erale’s position opened up.
Dowgin said he wasn’t ready to leave the military, but he didn’t want to wait another 29 years for the position to open up again. And, the Cape mission and promise appealed to him, Dowgin said.
“Excellence, equity and responsiveness,” he said. “If you give every student what they need every day, how can you go wrong with that?”
Dowgin said he will draw upon his nearly 30 years of experience in the military, combined with his coaching and parenting knowledge, to help students become better citizens and leaders down the road.
The kids are all like sponges, and it’s exciting to be a part of it, he said, noting the nine courses he teaches all include valuable life lessons. Providing a welcoming classroom environment is important.
“If they’re not having fun, they’re not learning as much as they could,” he said.
The community is very supportive of Cape High’s JROTC program, Dowgin said, noting he has a strong team of instructors in Sgt. Richard Hurt and Sgt. Philip Webb.
Cadets can be seen regularly performing community service in the Cape Region, from the color guard at home football games to assisting with some of the many local races and festivals.
After a year in Iraq, Dowgin returned to the U.S. in 2021. As his last assignment in the Army, he was director of logistics at Fort Dix, serving as the general’s primary advisor on all logistical matters for the state of New Jersey.
Originally from Cranbury, N.J., Dowgin lives in Hockessin with his wife and her school-aged children on the weekends, and stays in their Millsboro home during the week.
His son is a senior football player at Bucknell, where he majors in mechanical engineering and will go into active-duty infantry upon graduation. His daughter works in human resources and has a young daughter.
Dowgin is certified as a military science teacher in New Jersey, which transfers to Delaware, he said, and he previously taught in the Army’s officer candidate school, a curriculum that is similar to the one at Cape High. He is currently continuing his studies to become a certified JROTC instructor.