News: Young Marines take a little trip
Story by Lance Cpl. Garrett White
BARSTOW, Calif. - More than 40 military trained adolescents brought their drill to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., April 11 - 13.
These children are part of the Excelsior High Desert Young Marines, a youth education and service program for boys and girls ages 8 through 18. It is the focal point for the Marine Corps’ Youth Drug Demand Reduction Efforts, explained Mark Rhoades, volunteer with the Young Marines. The program allows children to earn rank, wear the Young Marines’ uniforms and earn ribbons for different achievements.
Rhoades, who has a son in the program, explained the trip to Barstow was a lot of fun for the kids. The Young Marines have been around since 1958; however, this is a new unit within the Young Marines and was their first encampment together.
During the trip to MCLB, the Young Marines stayed in Marine barracks, went on a hike, shot weapons on an Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer (ISMT), conducted physical training, received a demonstration from the Marine Corps Police Department’s K-9 unit here, performed drill, received professional military education, and interacted with active-duty Marines stationed here.
“The hike was a good experience,” said Young Marine Lance Cpl. Brooklyn Hendrickson, 16. “We worked as a unit and learned teamwork and leadership.”
Young Marine Pfc. Jennifer Becerra, 8, also said she enjoyed the hike and the ISMT.
“My favorite part was the (physical training) we did together … I like pushups,” added Becerra, who wants to join the Marine Corps when she’s older.
Overall, the goal is to instill Corps values into these children, explained Rick Brahier, commanding officer of the High Desert Young Marines, retired gunnery sergeant and former drill instructor.
“The program isn’t geared for the children to grow up and become Marines … it’s for them to grow up and become productive members of society,” he added. “The Marine Corps has high standards ... if they (the children) learn the Corps values today, they will be better adults tomorrow.”
However, if the children do decide to join the military, they will be a step-ahead of everyone else, he further explained.
“We meet two Saturdays each month,” Brahier said. “During each session, we focus on military education, drug prevention, and having fun.”
The retired Marine further added that leadership is a big part of the program.
“We (volunteers) are here for guidance … we let Young Marines lead Young Marines. Not only does this instill leadership qualities into each of them … but it uses peer pressure to keep them off of drugs. A child’s peers telling them to stay off drugs is more effective them me, as an adult, telling them the same thing,” he said.
Brahier concluded that the biggest thing is to be a positive influence for the kids and get them off the streets. After a weekend of fun and PME, the Young Marines were picked up by their parents with a little more honor, courage, commitment and taste of the military lifestyle from MCLB Barstow.