Young Marines Return from a Very Special ‘Reunion of Honor’ on Guam and Iwo Jima

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Young Marines have returned from their trip to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” The Young Marines were able to attend the memorial service which took place for veterans and family members at the Anniversary Monument on Iwo Jima.

Youth members of the Young Marines atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during the Reunion of Honor

Youth members of the Young Marines atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during the Reunion of Honor

"Our Young Marines had an opportunity that few will ever have," said Bill Davis, CEO of the Young Marines. "To walk the ground and have a personal view of the challenges our Marines and others faced during that battle is irreplaceable."

Youth members of the Young Marines, a national youth organization, have returned from their March trip to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” This year was the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the 72nd for Guam.

Each year, American and Japanese veterans come together for remembrances of their fallen brothers and to recall the fierce battles that took place on the two islands during World War II.

"Our Young Marines had an opportunity that few will ever have," said Bill Davis, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "To walk the ground and have a personal view of the challenges our Marines and others faced during that battle is irreplaceable. I know they truly appreciated this opportunity and will now be part of 'telling the story', so others will not forget the sacrifices made for our freedom."

The Young Marines who went on the trip include:

  • YM SgtMaj Lucas Ward, 18, of Farmington, Illinois, the National Young Marine of the Year
  • YM GySgt Shaina Halverson of the Eastern Mountain Young Marines in Pinetop, Arizona - Director's Choice
  • YM GySgt Kendra Base, 17, of the Eagle Young Marines in Oceanside, California – winner of the Jimmie Trimble Scholarship
  • YM MGySgt Jonathan Jimenez, 18, of the Milton Lewis Young Marines in Gainesville, Florida - winner of the Jimmie Trimble Scholarship

Also on the trip were all six Division Young Marines of the Year:

  • YM SgtMaj Joseph J. Bacon, 16, of Ludlow, Massachusetts - Division 1
  • YM SgtMaj Caleb Maurer, 15, of Bromley, Kentucky - Division 2
  • YM SgtMaj Cooper Johnston, 16, of Wakefield, North Carolina - Division 3
  • YM SgtMaj Seraphina Faye Gayle, 17, of Waco, Texas - Division 4
  • YM SgtMaj Matthew Carr, 17, of Greenwood, Indiana - Division 5
  • YM SgtMaj Abigail Bambilla, 17, of Vancouver, Washington - Division 6

"This was my second trip to Guam and Iwo Jima," said YM GySgt Lucas Ward, 17, the National Young Marine of the Year. "The trips had a lot in common but also contrasted quite a bit, which I liked, because I got to experience things differently. I think my absolute favorite part about this trip was the veterans, hands down. We had a much smaller group of veterans this year, which means I got a lot of personal interaction with each one. This made the journey very personal and emotional for me."

The Young Marines were able to attend the memorial service which took place for veterans and family members at the Anniversary Monument on Iwo Jima.

A 36-day assault resulted in an American victory but at great cost. There were more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead. Of the 20,000 Japanese defenders, only 1,083 survived. The Marines' efforts, however, provided a vital link in the U.S. chain of bomber bases.

About the Young Marines

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to 281 units with 9,600 youth and 2,400 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Okinawa with affiliates in other countries.

For more information, visit the official website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.

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Andy Richardson
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