The Young Marines youth organization announced the 2014 - 2015 “National Young Marine of the Year” – YM SgtMaj Blake W. DeWeese, 18, of Beaverton, OR. The Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school.
DeWeese represented Division Six in competing with five other Division Young Marines of the Year for the title which was announced at the Adult Leaders’ Conference for Young Marines June 4 – 7 in Washington, D.C.
“YM SgtMaj Blake W. DeWeese is the personification of all that is good about this organization,” said Michael Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “He has demonstrated all of the qualities we are looking for in that one Young Marine who will serve as our ambassador in his travels around the country and interact with Young Marines, parents and adult volunteers.”
“When my name was announced, I recalled my first day as a Young Marine recruit, and all the hardship I had to endure over the years to be where I am,” DeWeese said. “I thought of my Young Marines back home, and finally, I thought of the added responsibility. It will be no small task, but I am up to it.”
DeWeese said that word of his honor spread fast. People were at the airport to greet him, and the story was featured on the evening news. He received non-stop congratulations calls from friends and family.
"What's truly unique about the role of Young Marine of the Year is that it is newly defined each year by the Young Marine who earns the title,” said YM SgtMaj Dakota Richter, last year’s National Young Marine of the Year . “YM/SgtMaj DeWeese is the perfect character to take such a challenge and run with it; I can't wait to see where that road leads him."
Blake DeWeese joined the Young Marines at age 11, and today he’s in his seventh year in the program. He is a member of the Oregon Cascade Young Marines of Portland. He credits the Young Marines for providing a welcoming environment where he could thrive and develop leadership skills.
In 2013, he graduated 2nd in his class at the Advanced Leadership School and was chosen to participate in the annual National Advanced Leadership Symposium in Washington DC. He is a graduate of the Junior, Senior and Advanced Leadership School, all three at the national level.
“In 2014, I will be the academy Sergeant Major at the 2014 National Leadership Academies for which I am tasked with the management and overall mission success of the school,” DeWeese said. “I have fond memories of my schools, and I have the responsibility to ensure everyone in attendance walks away with the tools and resources necessary to better their respective units. Luckily, I have a great adult and Young Marine staff to help accomplish this task.”
As National Young Marine of the Year, DeWeese will travel throughout the country representing the Young Marines. In addition, he will be a mentor for the 11,000 youth members in the Young Marines.
“The Young Marines I have worked with have helped me so much,” DeWeese said. “I could not be where I am today without the lessons they have taught me. They lead by example and are all deserving of the highest of honors. I will do everything in my power to continue the stellar reputation of the Young Marines program.”
DeWeese plans to help increase the public awareness of the Young Marines program. In addition, he would like to foster improvement on the retention rate of Young Marines and provide members with the tools necessary to excel in the program.
“The National Young Marine of the Year is a great responsibility,” DeWeese said. “Those who came before me had their own flare and individuality, and I will emulate where I see fit. However, I am also excited to bring my own personality into the mix.”
He recently traveled to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor” trip with nine other youth members of Young Marines. The weeklong trip was for the American and Japanese veterans who fought on the two islands during World War II.
“The Guam/Iwo Jima trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” DeWeese said. “I grew closer to the other nine Young Marines attendees than I thought possible. Speaking with veterans from the Vietnam War, the Korean War and even World War 2 was so enlightening and humbling. I am so grateful for everything they have done for this country.”
The son of Crystal and Todd DeWeese, he has two siblings – a brother and sister. DeWeese is a senior at Westview High School in Portland, OR. For two years, he was a long/triple jumper on Westview’s track team.
After he completes high school, DeWeese’s goal is to serve with MARSOC (Special Operations Command) in the United States Marine Corps and eventually land a career in international espionage for the CIA.
“The Young Marines has taught me valuable communication skills that would be assets in my future career,” DeWeese said. I have learned to be confident about my ambitions. I understand the path will be long and demanding, but the Young Marines has equipped me with the tools necessary for success.”
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, Thailand, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.
For more information, visit the official website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.
Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations
630-789-8899 or firstname.lastname@example.org