Some sisters share Barbie doll collections. Some share a passion for ballet. The four Base sisters from Seal Beach, CA, can holler, "Oorah," and mean it. The sisters, ranging in age from 9 to 15 have found a steel-strong bond within the Young Marines youth organization which is dedicated to education and service.
They are Keira Base, 9; Kendra Base, 11; Klarisse Base, 14; and Kalista Base, 15. They are the daughters of Katja and Ken Base of Seal Beach, CA., and members of the Southeast County Young Marines.
The story begins in 2009 when the family went to a display of Marine assault amphibian vehicles in Oceanside, CA. The four sisters met members of the Camp Pendleton Eagle Young Marines who were manning a booth advocating drug demand reduction and providing information about the Young Marines.
After talking to the Young Marines, Kendra Base, then 9, was adamant about her desire to join the organization. Her parents were somewhat reluctant only because they feared the program would interfere with Kendra’s musical education. Their daughter pledged to continue her good grades and promised she wouldn’t lose any practice time. In April, 2011, her parents consented.
The next step was a week’s worth of recruit training. Kendra and older sister Klarisse attended Camp Talega at Camp Pendleton. As her dad drove off, Klarisse stuck her head out of the window of the bus and yelled, "Bye, Daddy, I love you!"
The girls’ father heard a deep voice on the bus say, gently but firmly, “Get your head back in the window and eyes forward, Base."
“We had just sent our 9 and 12 year olds off to nearly a week of recruit training!” Katja said. “Recruit graduation a week later was our first first-hand observation of the positives of the Young Marines program. It was neat, too, to be at Talega, where my husband's father had been a young recruit in training for the Marines more than 40 years earlier.”
Camp Talega was the first recruit graduation ceremony Katja and Ken witnessed, but it certainly wasn’t the last. In 2012, their youngest – Keira - and second oldest – Klarisse – joined the Young Marines.
“The Young Marines program inspires our girls to do their best,” Katja said. “They are encouraged to be independent and to focus on academics. In addition, they attend leadership schools, give speeches and apply for scholarships. YM has instilled the importance of exercise and living a drug free lifestyle. As an added benefit, they are meeting people from all over the United States and making lifelong friends.”
The Bases are especially glad their daughters are provided experiences that bring history to life such as when they participated in commemorations of Pearl Harbor, Veteran’s Day and other ceremonies.
The Young Marines program has made the younger two Base sisters more independent and self sufficient. One of the biggest challenges for an 8 or 9 year old is to pack his or her duffel bag for encampments. Katja and Ken were surprised when their 9-year-old followed the list and packed her own clothes and equipment, carefully checking off items.
Pvt. Keira Base, 9, really enjoyed meeting veterans at Navajo Code Talkers Day on Aug. 14, in Arizona, especially Gene Bell who was a witness to the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.
“At one of the encampments, I repelled off of a cliff,” Keira said. “I crawled up the side of the mountain to get to where the Marines were. It was really high, and I got scared. A Marine clipped me onto a rope next to him. I was still scared, so he gave me a bracelet and said, ‘This is a bracelet I made, and it brings you good luck. It will help you get down.’ I wasn't scared anymore. When we got down I said, ‘That was fun.’ He told me I could keep the bracelet. I took it to school and showed my friends. I can't wait to go back to regimental encampment and repel down the cliff again.”
PFC Klarisse Base, 11, enjoyed touring USS Sampson and being able to sit in the captain's chair.
“I noticed that there was a woman in charge of the destroyer ship,” Klarisse said, “so I learned that even though I’m a girl, I can accomplish anything. I am having fun taking the trips like Navajo Code Talkers Day and Pearl Harbor. Going to all these places helps me to learn history.”
Sgt. Kendra Base, 15, says that one of the best experiences she ever had was called SPACES MACH III. She was able to earn a Top Gun patch by participating in a fighter plane simulator.
“The academics at leadership schools and programs like MACH III are challenging, but rewarding,” Kendra said. “The best part about taking these trips is meeting great people from all over the U.S. who are now my friends. We keep in touch and plan for the next big national events such as leadership school, Pearl Harbor, Code Talkers Day and encampments.”
Cpl. Kalista Base, 14, received the title of "Most Motivated" when she finished recruit training. Her favorite activities are going to encampments, singing cadences, participating in color guard and meeting other Young Marines.
“I really enjoy talking to all the veterans and hearing their stories,” Kalista said. “They always give good advice to us. We met Tom Berg, who’s 94, at Pearl Harbor. He told us to go to college and get a degree. Recently, I was given the honor of carrying the Arizona flag at the Navajo Code Talker Day parade in Window Rock, Arizona.”
For the four Base sisters, the Young Marines is a family affair.
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 http://www.youngmarines.com.
Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations