MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. (MCN - July 29, 2010) — Thirteen school-age children packed their bags and loaded three 12-passenger vans July 17, on their way to receive critical leadership training in Tennessee for Albany's Young Marines, Second Battalion of Georgia, program.
|The Tennessee Regiment of the Young Marines is scheduled to conduct senior leadership and junior leadership training to the group Monday-Saturday at the Tennessee Army National Guard Training Base in Smyrna, Tenn.|
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls ages 8 through completion of high school, according to their Web site. Focusing on character building, leadership and promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle, the Young Marines program helps to promote the mental, moral and physical development of its members.
The Albany, Ga.-based program started here in 1997, and since inception has graduated more than
Nathaniel Lowman, commanding officer, 2nd Battalion of Georgia, (left) shakes hand with a newly-promoted Albany Young Marine, as Staff Sgt. Corey Chism, (center) reads the citation on July 17, 2010.
|1,000 Young Marines, said Randolph Scott, the program's Battalion Executive Officer for 2ndBN of Georgia.|
“We stress to our Young Marines the dangers of drugs, teach them how to effectively deal with peer pressure, provide them leadership traits and have them attend law enforcement courses,” Scott said. “They come into the program just like the military – at the lowest level – holding the rank of private, but just like any other service member, they can gain rank as they accept responsibilities and display maturity and leadership.”
The most senior Young Marine in the Albany program is 16-year-old Staff Sgt. Corey Chism who attends Westover High School in Albany. Chism actually promoted several of the Young Marines members prior to the group departing the area. Little did he know he would be promoted to the rank of gunnery sergeant once he arrived at the senior leadership school.
“I've been a member of the Young Marines for nine years now,” Chism said. “The main thing I've learned is discipline, not to be a follower and how to tell people ‘no' when they try to persuade you to do something wrong.”
Chism appears to take the Young Marines program seriously and is said to be a quick learner. As a matter of fact, the rising high school junior graduated at the top of his class when he took similar leadership training in 2009.
“I enjoy coming back [to Albany] and teaching the other Young Marines at my home unit who didn't have the chance to go because of their age,” Chism said.
Young Marines have to be 13 years old to attend the weeklong training.
Nathaniel Lowman, commanding officer, 2nd Bn. of Georgia, said his soon-to-be promoted gunny is one of two participants who have been with the program since age 8.
“I started with the program in 1997 and since that time I believe I've seen about 100 kids stay for the entire program – from age 8 until they graduate from high school.”
Lowman added the Young Marines are not only looking for more youth to join their program, but they also recruit dedicated adults who are willing to volunteer their time to make a positive impact in a young person's life.
“In addition to myself and Scott, we have a company first sergeant, 1stSgt. Anthony Merriweather, a battalion adjutant, Karen Hartman, and a company adjutant, Jackie Tobias,” the CO said.
“In addition, we have four instructors who come from all walks in life – one Army National Guardsman, one civilian and two Marines,” he added.
The company first sergeant said he thoroughly enjoyed working in the program.
“We get to teach these young people a multitude of things, from land navigation and drill to public speaking and leadership traits. It is just as gratifying for the adult volunteers as it is for the Young Marines when they complete the program and graduate high school,” Merriweather said.