A Dallastown Area High School senior received a prestigious, highly-coveted JROTC award on Thursday.

Aaron Bentzel, 18, of Jacobus earned the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement Award. He's one of just six nationwide winners after an extensive application process that evaluated his grades, activities and other factors.

Bentzel, the battalion commander for Dallastown's JROTC program, is vice president of the National Honor Society, an Eagle Scout, a student mentor and coordinated the JROTC Toys for Tots campaign.

The breadth of the cadet's activities "really set him apart from other cadets" said Lt. Col. Joseph Innerst, the JROTC instructor.

More than 5,000 cadets across the country were eligible. Lance Cpl. Fred Monahan, a Navy Cross winner for his service in Vietnam while with the Marine Corps, handed the award to Bentzel at Thursday's school board meeting.

Bentzel said winning was "unbelievable."

"It's hard to comprehend," said Bentzel, the son of Steve and Meg Bentzel.

He is hoping to get accepted at the Merchant Marine or Naval academies.

"I want to serve my country. I want to give back to everything that's been given to me," he said.