Ten Young Marines Join American and Japanese Veterans for the Annual ‘Reunion of Honor’ on Guam and Iwo Jima

Ten youth members of the Young Marines will travel to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” The trip enables the Young Marines to learn history from the WWII veterans who made history.

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The Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school.

The Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school.

The trip enables the Young Marines to learn history from those who made history. Once the veterans and Young Marines get to know one another, there’s a lot of respect and affection. Some even maintain contact years after the trip.

Washington D.C. (PRWEB) March 11, 2014

Ten youth members of the Young Marines will travel to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” They will depart on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. 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.

The Young Marines chosen to go include the two winners of the Young Marines’ Jimmie Trimble Scholarship; the six division winners named “Young Marines of the Year;” the current national Young Marine of the Year – SgtMajor Dakota Richter; and the Young Marine designated “Director’s Choice” by National Executive Director Mike Kessler.

Traveling to Guam and Iwo Jima are:

  •     YM SgtMaj Dakota Richter of Crestview Hills, Kentucky. – National Young Marine of the Year (YMOY)
  •     YM SgtMaj Austin Loppe of Mingo Junction, OH – Division 1 (YMOY)
  •     YM SgtMaj Jason Mooney of Parkville, MD - Division 2 (YMOY)
  •     YM SgtMaj Alexander Messmer of Havelock, NC - Division 3 (YMOY)
  •     YM SgtMaj Joshua Aikman of Marrero, LA – Division 4 (YMOY)
  •     YM SgtMaj Michael Borka of Swartz Creek, MI – Division 5 (YMOY)
  •     YM MSgt Blake De Weese of Beaverton, OR. – Division 6 (YMOY)
  •     YM MGySgt Mary Wessell of Cleveland, OH – scholarship winner
  •     YM MSgt Nathan Baker of Atlanta, GA - scholarship winner
  •     YM 1stSgt Oscar Pinate of Miami Springs, FL.- Director’s Choice
  •     Mr. George Biedenbender of Fredricksburg, VA – adult leader and chaperone
  •     Mrs. Lisa Farmer of Jacksonville, NC. – adult leader and chaperone
  •     Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines

“Each Young Marine was selected based on his or her dedication, loyalty, achievement and leadership, and for having been chosen as their divisions Young Marine of the Year,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, and every Young Marine treasures the experience.”

Kessler said past trips have been very successful, because World War II veterans who made up the “greatest generation” eagerly welcomed the young people. The Young Marines spend the trip engaging the veterans, helping with luggage and getting on and off the bus or ensuring that they have plenty of water.

“The trip enables the Young Marines to learn history from those who made history," Kessler said. “Once the veterans and Young Marines get to know one another, there’s a lot of respect and affection. Some even maintain contact years after the trip.”

On Iwo Jima, a memorial service will take place for veterans, families and the Young Marines near the landing beaches at the Anniversary Monument. Conducted by veterans from both the United States and Japan, the service will remember the young men on both sides who gave their lives during the brutal campaign for the Island.

Iwo Jima, 750 miles south of Tokyo, is the middle island of the three tiny specks of the Volcano Islands. Five miles long, the island is honeycombed with volcanic vents. In addition, there are hundreds of natural caves, deep sulphur-exuding tunnels and steep gulleys across the surface. Ragged sea cliffs surround the island. Only to the south is there level sand, but it is shifting black pumice dust making the beaches like quicksand and making it impossible to dig a fox-hole.

The island was riddled with pillboxes, gun-pits, trenches and mortar sites. A three-day naval bombardment on Feb. 16, 1945, was intended to rid the island of much of its defense. Unfortunately, the bombardment had minimal effect.

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.

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 over 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.

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