The Young Marines forms partnership with Madison Rising, America’s most patriotic rock band
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The Young Marines, a national youth organization, announces a new partnership with Madison Rising, America’s most patriotic rock band. The partnership will kick off as Madison Rising embarks on the Concerned Veterans for America’s 23-city Defend Free
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Young Marines scale Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima
Friday, March 20, 2015
Today, 11 youth members of the Young Marines are accompanying 49 veterans on a plane trip from Guam to Iwo Jima as part of the annual “Reunion of Honor.”
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Eleven Young Marines join American and Japanese veterans for the annual ‘Reunion of Honor’ on Guam and Iwo Jima
Monday, March 16, 2015
Eleven youth members of the Young Marines are travelling to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor” which takes place March 16 – 23, 2015.
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World War II vets headed back to Iwo Jima, Young Marines make it possible
Friday, January 30, 2015
Medal of Honor recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams will be among the 15 World War II veterans headed back to Iwo Jima next month, and he has the Young Marines to thank for it.
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Young Marines Names Division Young Marines of the Year
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Young Marines youth organization has named six division winners of one of its most prestigious awards - the “Division Young Marine of the Year.”
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Two Young Marines awarded Jimmie Trimble Scholarship
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Young Marines SgtMaj Alex Loria of Chantilly, VA, and Young Marines GySgt Brittany Hannah of Miami, FL, are the recipients of the Young Marines’ Jimmie Trimble Scholarship Award.
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Young Marines units from across the nation traveled to Hawaii for 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
One hundred forty one youth members of the Young Marines from nine states traveled to Hawaii to participate in the 73rd anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration.
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Red Carpet Event for the Young Marines Documentary Premiere Followed by PBS Airing in KY
Friday, October 31, 2014
The national premiere of a 30-minute documentary film, “Generations of Honor: A Year with the Young Marines”, will take place at the historic Kentucky Theatre. The film will air on PBS in KY on Veteran’s Day.
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Young Marines Alumni Association is Launched
Monday, October 27, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization now has an Alumni Association for its more than 60,000 former members. Former YM SgtMajor Edgar Huff, who was the 2004 National Young Marine of the Year, has been named executive director of the new association.
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Young Marines Wins its 6th Dept. of Defense Award for Anti-Drug Education
Monday, October 20, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization’s Drug Demand Reduction Program is the winner of the 2014 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education.
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GLOCK donates $50,000 to the Young Marines at the 2014 AUSA Annual Meeting
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Young Marines received a $50,000 donation from GLOCK on Monday, Oct. 13, at the Association of United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Expo.
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American Legion Child Welfare Foundation Recipients Share Success of Grant
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Joe Lusignan, Deputy Director, West Coast Operations of the Young Marines, discusses "Closing the gate on Drugs" Drug Demand Reduction kits with American Legion family members during the eighth annual Children & Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
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223 Young Marines meet World War II Navajo Code Talkers
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Two hundred twenty three members of the Young Marines including registered adult leaders traveled to Window Rock, AZ, to be part of Navajo Code Talkers Day which was Thursday, Aug. 14. Seventeen veteran Navajo Code Talkers attended.
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Scott Riley of the Columbus Young Marines named ‘National Adult Volunteer of the Year’
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization has named Scott Riley the “National Adult Volunteer of the Year” at the annual Adult Leaders Conference held in Washington D.C. Riley is the Unit Commander of Columbus Young Marines from Division 5 located in Colu
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Young Marines announces ‘National Unit of the Year’ - Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Unit from Knoxville, TN
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization announced the “National Unit of the Year” – Division Three’s Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Unit in Knoxville, TN, under the command of Virgil L. Young, Jr.
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National Executive Director and CEO Mike Kessler announces future retirement from the Young Marines
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Mike Kessler, National Executive Director and CEO of the Young Marines, announces his retirement which will take place in late 2015.
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The Young Marines unveil a new and expanded Drug Demand Reduction Program: ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’
Monday, July 14, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization took its drug demand reduction efforts to the next level by launching a new program titled, “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The program focuses on the drugs that our youth are exposed to early and most often - the ga
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The DEA and Young Marines present Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena Awards to six units
Monday, June 16, 2014
The DEA and Young Marines announce Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Award winners. The award honors six units, one award per division, for drug demand reduction efforts through community education and peer-to-peer role modeling.
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Blake DeWeese named ‘National Young Marine of the Year’
Friday, June 13, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization announced the 2014 - 2015 “National Young Marine of the Year” – YM SgtMaj Blake W. DeWeese, 18, of Beaverton, OR. As National Young Marine of the Year, DeWeese will travel throughout the country representing the Y
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Young Marines grateful for a grant from American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation has provided a $90,000 grant to the Young Marines youth organization for the purpose of creating printed materials to use in its campaigns to reduce the demand for drugs through education.
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Ten Young Marines Return From a Very Special ‘Reunion of Honor’ on Guam and Iwo Jima
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ten youth members of the Young Marines have returned from their March 12th trip to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” Each year, American and Japanese veterans and their families 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 who went on the trip include:

  • 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 Geneva, OH – scholarship winner
  • YM MSgt Nathan Baker of Atlanta, GA - scholarship winner
  • YM 1stSgt Oscar Pinate of Miami Springs, FL.- Director’s Choice

Adults who accompanied the Young Marines were:

  • George Biedenbender of Fredricksburg, VA – adult leader and chaperone
  • Lisa Farmer of Jacksonville, NC. – adult leader and chaperone
  • Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines

Young Marines with Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, James F. Amos, at the Anniversary Monument on Iwo Jima.“The Young Marines were able to spend several hours listening to the experiences of the veterans,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “This is living history, not a third party interpretation of what someone thinks might have happened, but the unvarnished reality of war through the eyes of those who were there. Whether they were a trigger puller or a logistician, a runner or a boat driver, their stories are all very real and captured a slice of history that Hollywood will never be able to put on the big screen and that our history books will sadly never reveal.”

“Watching the reactions of the veterans to us was priceless,” said YMSgtMaj Dakota Richter of Crestview Hills, Kentucky, who is the National Young Marine of the Year. “From sitting beside them at breakfast each morning to assisting them all over the island of Guam on our tours, what began as suspicious curiosity quickly transformed into a grandparent/grandchild relationship. Those kinds of bonds are so rewarding, and I’m so thankful we could connect with the veterans in that way.”

The Young Marines were able to attend the memorial service took place for veterans and family members at the Anniversary Monument on Iwo Jima. Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, James F. Amos, delivered a poignant eulogy for the fallen of both sides.

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.

According to Kessler, one thing that set this trip aside from the others was the pride that he saw in the family members accompanying their father on this adventure. Also, none of the returning veterans seemed to be lamenting the return nor did they show any malice for the Japanese.

“They clearly understood that despite the fact that many of them lost close friends to the tenacity of the Japanese defenders,” he said, “they understood that the enemy had a job to do, and they performed as best they could given the circumstances.”

A veteran - Mr. Owen Agenbroad - shared a story with the Young Marines. During WW II, he served with the 5th Marine Division. While assaulting across the island, he came upon a recently abandoned Japanese position. There he found a straight edge razor and soap dish which he picked up as war treasures. Later in life and in looking more closely at the razor, Mr. Agenbroad saw that it had Japanese writing on it, and he set about finding a translator. After confirming that it was the name of the Japanese soldier who owned it, he tried to find out what happened to him. On learning of his death on the island, he felt duty-bound to find out if there were family members still alive. This was confirmed. On March 19, at a very private but emotional setting on Iwo Jima, he returned the razor to the family.

“Makes the hair stand up, doesn’t it?” Kessler said.

YMSgtMaj Richter feels that the sheer magnitude of the reverence that these veterans still carry with them today is awe-inspiring: reverence for their leaders during the battle; their fellow Marines who served with them; and for many, for their buddies who never came home.

“It’s been 69 years, and yet these veterans still choke on their words when describing memories,” she said. “That’s how strong the bond of brotherhood is between those men.”

The Young Marines impressed not only the veterans but the Governor of Guam as well.

“Following his speech at the banquet on March 18th, the Governor commented to General Snowden that he was truly impressed with the Young Marines and wanted to start a unit on Guam,” Kessler said. “We are working on providing all of the information they need to make that a reality.”

Mr. Yoshitaka Shindo, the grandson of the Japanese island commander, LtGen Kuribayishi, is very proud of his grandfather, and he hasn’t missed a Reunion of Honor (RoH) until last year. His job prevents him from attending mid-week events. As president of the Bereaved Iwo Jima Japanese Family Association, Mr. Shindo requested that the 70th anniversary next year be held on Saturday, March 14, 2015. This request was granted.

“Unfortunately and yet understandably, there were far fewer Iwo Jima veterans this year compared to last, and yet we made the most of every minute with them,” said YMSgtMaj Richter. “It’s a somber reminder as to the rate at which these heroes are passing, and every memory we can gather from our veterans deserves to be cherished and documented for future generations.”

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:


Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations
630-789-8899 or