Meet California Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Kelhi

Story by U.S. Army Sgt Marla Ogden
California Military Department Public Affairs

Jan. 17, 2024

Los Alamitos, Calif.— The cadre at California Military Institute strive to instill a foundation of leadership, academic excellence, and physical fitness within its cadets.

Each morning, at its gates, cadets are greeted by cadre, the faces of the California Military Department's very own service members.

“We're very involved with everything at the school,” expressed California Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Kelhi, CMI's operations and training noncommissioned officer and the boys' volleyball coach.

“Our focus here is leadership and applied leadership, so we give the kids the opportunity to become great leaders,” said Kelhi, noting that some of their cadets have gone on to attend prestigious universities like Harvard, Berkeley, and the United States Naval Academy.

“Scholastically, it helps them to add the leadership opportunities they gain at CMI to their resumes when applying for these prestigious colleges,” he said.

Like other Task Force Torch programs, the CMI operates as a quasi-military institution, encouraging California's youth to pursue the path that best aligns with their individual interests and aspirations.

"Many people tend to think that because it's the CMI - we kind of push them to try to join the military when really what we're doing is trying to push them into what's best for them," Kelhi explained. “It's about having that ability to show them that they can do more, being able to tell them and explain to them that if you stick to these standards and disciplines, it's going to pay dividends in the future.”

For Kelhi, the most rewarding aspect of the job is when cadets graduate and come back to share their success.

“It's extremely rewarding to see them come back and accomplish things that they may not have realized they could before,” he said. “It’s great when those kids graduate and come back, and they thank the guardsmen for everything they’ve instilled into them.”

"At the end of the day, it's about the kids, and I believe that falls in line exactly with what Task Force Torch represents," said Kelhi. "We're here to better the youth and the community."