Ten Young Marines Travel to Guam and Iwo Jima for the Annual ‘Reunion of Honor’ Trip

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Ten youth members of the Young Marines will travel to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Joint Reunion of Honor” trip. The week-long event is for the American and Japanese veterans who fought on the two islands during World War II.

Youth members of the Young Marines in Iwo Jima during the 2012 annual “Joint Reunion of Honor” trip to Guam and Iwo Jima.

Youth members of the Young Marines in Iwo Jima during the 2012 annual “Joint Reunion of Honor” trip to Guam and Iwo Jima.

“The trip enables the Young Marines to learn history from those who made history,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “Once the veterans and Young Marines get to know one another, they become almost inseparable."

Ten youth members of the Young Marines will travel to Guam and Iwo Jima, leaving March 7, for the annual “Joint Reunion of Honor” trip to Guam and Iwo Jima.

The weeklong event is for the American and Japanese veterans who fought on the two islands during World War II. Planned are symposiums, tours and memorial events.

“The trip enables the Young Marines to learn history from those who made history,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “Once the veterans and Young Marines get to know one another, they become almost inseparable and some maintain relationships following the trip.”

The Young Marines chosen to go include the two winners of the Young Marines’ Jimmie Trimble Scholarship; the six winners of “Division Young Marines of the Year;” the National Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj McCall Behringer; adult volunteer Robert Borka; adult volunteer Vivian Price-Butler, and GySgt Allyson Fagga, honor graduate at the National Leadership Academy and designated “Director’s Choice” by Kessler.

“Each and every Young Marine participating in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was selected based on his or her dedication, loyalty, achievement and leadership,” Kessler said. “They represent the hundreds of Young Marines in their respective divisions.

Traveling to Guam and Iwo Jima are:

  •     Young Marine MSgt Pierce Gilman of Candia, NH – Division 1
  •     Young Marine MGySgt Dakota Richter of Crestview Hills, KY – Division 2
  •     Young Marine GySgt Austin Cobb of Cary, NC – Division 3
  •     Young Marine SgtMaj Shana Perez of Waco, TX – Division 4
  •     Young Marine MGySgt Corin McKee of Plainfield, IN – Division 5
  •     Young Marine MSgt Ian Search of Sweet Home, OR – Division 6
  •     Young Marine SgtMaj McCall Behringer of Baltimore, MD – National Young Marine of the Year
  •     Young Marine MGySgt Storme DiGiovanni of Kailua, HI – scholarship winner
  •     Young Marine MGySgt Gianni Mattucci of Baltimore, MD - scholarship winner
  •     Young Marine GySgt Allyson Fagga of Romney, WV – Director’s Choice
  •     Mr. Robert Borka of Swartz Creek, MI – adult leader and chaperone
  •     Mrs. Vivian Price-Butler of Baltimore, MD – adult leader and chaperone
  •     Mike Kessler, National Executive Director and CEO of the Young Marines

“My experience shows that World War II veterans who made up the ‘greatest generation’ are eager to have these Young Marines along,” Kessler said. “Our kids will spend the entire trip engaging the veterans, assisting them in any way they can whether that means helping with luggage, assistance with getting on and off the bus or ensuring that they have water. The manner in which the Young Marines conduct themselves is refreshing and welcome by all who participate in 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 rendering it impossible to dig a fox-hole when in need of cover.

The island was riddled with pillboxes, gun-pits, trenches and mortar sites and a three-day naval bombardment beginning 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, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.

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

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