Young Marines Celebrates 60 Years of Leadership and Teamwork

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Provided by Young Marines

The Young Marines began as a dream of several men who had proudly worn the uniform of America’s Corps of Marines. The year was 1959, and the place was Waterbury, Connecticut. Those Marines had the goal of mirroring the values of the Marine Corps but for boys. Their vision: to offer leadership training and other life skills that formed the bedrock of the organization known today as the Young Marines.

Sixty years later, Young Marines is headquartered in Dumfries. The program is a highly respected youth organization for girls and boys age eight through high school. The committed objective is maintaining a healthy, drug-free lifestyle and honoring veterans whenever, however, wherever they can. The Young Marines’ core values – leadership, teamwork, and discipline – are understood and practiced by all.

Young Marines Programs

The Young Marines’ Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) efforts began in the mid-1990s. In 2014, the Young Marines ramped up its DDR efforts by launching a program titled “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” Young Marines have distinguished themselves in leading the charge against illicit drug use. The program’s very ambitious and award-winning Drug Demand Reduction program was recognized by the Department of Defense and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Young Marines are committed to veterans of any war. From placing small American flags next to veterans’ headstones to traveling to Pearl Harbor for its annual remembrance on Dec. 7, the Young Marines are there. Also, since 2006, Young Marines have traveled to Arizona for the annual Navajo Code Talkers Day.

Young Marines participate in National Memorial Day parades in hundreds of cities across America. Also, ten Young Marines who have won top honors are invited to Guam and Iwo Jima, where they assist veterans any way they can. They attend the Reunion of Honor on Iwo Jima on the one day the island is open to the public. The reunion features veterans and their families – American and Japanese – who come together in peace and to remember the horrific battle.

Becoming a Member

Today, there are 8,500 youth members in approximately 250 units across the country. Individual units are led by the Young Marines themselves and are overseen by dedicated adult volunteers.

The recruits of the Young Marines undergo a 26-hour orientation program, sometimes spread out over several weekly meetings and sometimes over the course of a weekend. Youth members learn general subjects such as history, customs and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure.

After graduating from Young Marines recruit training, Young Marines learn even more new skills, earn rank, and wear the Young Marines uniform. They work toward ribbon awards, which are given for achievement in leadership, conservation, ethics, community service, swimming, academic excellence, first aid, orienteering, and drug resistance education.

During the summer, Young Marines can attend national summer programs, where they meet and become friends with other Young Marines from across the country and the world. One of the larger summer events is the National Leadership Academy held in Warrenton, Oregon. The Academy introduces experiential learning mixed with self-discovery to challenge Young Marines to be effective leaders who make well-informed decisions.

After six decades, tens of thousands of young people have benefited from participation in the Young Marines. Most have gone on to be successful leaders who strongly appreciate America and who lead healthy, drug-free lives.

The adult volunteers and the headquarters staff join the youth members in looking back in proud and fond remembrance. It is the future that inspires, and all look forward to the next 60 years. For more information visit


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