The Young Marines is a youth program in the United States and Japan open to all youth between the ages of 8 to 18 or completion of high school (whichever is later, not to exceed 20 years of age).
Role and purpose
- To promote the mental, moral, and physical development in its members the principles of honesty, fairness, courage, respect, loyalty, dependability, attention to duty, and fidelity to the United States and its institutions
- To stimulate an interest in, and respect for academic achievement and the history and traditions of the United States and the U.S. Marine Corps
- Their three core values are leadership, discipline, and teamwork
- To promote the physical fitness through the conduct of physical activities, including athletic events and close order drill
- To advocate a healthy drug-free lifestyle by continual drug prevention education programs, including avoiding gateway drugs
- Can receive a higher initial pay grade upon enlistment in any Military Branch.
The creed that every Young Marine lives by is:
- Obey my parents and all others in charge of me whether young or old.
- Keep myself neat at all times without other people telling me to.
- Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.
- Keep my mind alert to learn in school, at home, or at play.
- Remember that having self-discipline will enable me to control my body and mind in case of an emergency.
The obligation which they stand by is: "From this day forward, I sincerely promise, I will set an example for all other youth to follow and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines. These I will honor and respect in a manner that will reflect credit upon them and myself. Semper Fidelis."
US Congress found in the Recruiting, Retention, and Reservist Promotion Act of 2000 that Young Marines and similar programs "provide significant benefits for the Armed Forces, including significant public relations benefits."
It should be noted that the Young Marines are not a recruitment tool for militaries of any sort, combat skills are not taught, and it is not a "Scared Straight Program" for wayward youth. At the same time, events that Young Marines may participate in may involve close connection with public relations aspects of the armed forces.
The Young Marines was founded in 1959, by the Brass City detachment of the Marine Corps League in Waterbury, CT. The Young Marines received its charter on October 17, 1965, and continued its affiliation with the MCL as well as becoming US Marine Corps drug demand reduction program for youth in July 1993. In 1975 the Young Marines extended its membership to females, and in 1995 the program went international with units in Okinawa, Japan. The Young Marine program was awarded the Fulcrum Shield in 2001. This was the first Fulcrum Shield Award ever bestowed.
The Young Marines are different from JROTC units, in that they are not part of high school and are a 501(c)3 non-profit instead of a government agency. It is open to children from the ages of eight years old through high school. Most units require a registration fee ranging from fifty to two hundred dollars to enroll, with an annual reregistration ranging from twenty to fifty dollars a year. Generally, units meet on local military bases or other locations such as American Legion, VFW, Fire or Sheriff Dept. etc. where a building serves as their headquarters and classroom.
The organization has over 300 units with over 13,000 Young Marines and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and affiliates in a host of foreign countries including Germany and Japan.
Like the Marine Corps, the Young Marines have 7 divisions, each with multiple regiments. The command is from national, to division, to regiment, to battalion, to unit. Unit commanders must normally be retired or former marines with an honorable discharge, or active or reserve marines in good standing. For additional information see the YM national website.
Young Marines learn survival techniques, physical training, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, rappelling, scuba diving, etc. depending upon the geographic location of the unit, and undergo leadership training, such as Junior Leadership, Senior Leadership, and Advanced Leadership. Different schools can be viewed on the Young Marines website. All battalions train differently, so schools may vary. Most schools are done at Camp Rilea in Oregon for Nationals, but some battalions,regiments,or divisions will do smaller leadership schools. All Young Marines learn military drill based on the U.S. Marine Corps and practice those skills in community parades; some units may have their own drill team.
All units accept new members differently as part of recruit training. Some units train new recruits over a period of several months, led by several recruit instructors (RI's), while other units train new members of a course of a few weekend meetings, while at least one unit has a 4-day long encampment for recruit training. At the end of recruit training, members are officially given the title of "Young Marine," are allowed to wear the standard camouflage uniform, and earn the rank of private (those that have not completed recruit training successfully are allowed to take part in most unit activities, but do not hold the rank of private). Honor recruits, recruits that have done exceptionally well during their training period, may begin with the rank of Private First Class.
Upon earning sufficient rank, Young Marines may enroll in a leadership school in order to enhance their leadership skills. Junior Leadership School (JLS) is available for LCpl's and Cpl's, and is necessary for advancement to the rank of Sergeant. The curriculum at JLS often involves leadership skills, map and compass navigation, US and Young Marine history, duties of billeted positions, and squad drill. Senior Leadership school (SLS), teaching Platoon Drill and advanced leadership skills, is available for Sgt's and SSgt's, and is necessary for advancement to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. Upon attainment of sufficient rank, advanced leadership school (ALS) is possible, and it is a requirement for the final rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant.
The standard Young Marine uniform is the woodland-pattern BDU. Unlike the Marine Corps JROTC, the Young Marines are not authorized to wear the MARPAT MCCUU. As for dress uniform, the current dress uniforms allowed are Service Alphas, Bravos, and Charlies. The U.S. Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem is replaced with the a gold Young Marine emblem on all uniforms where an EGA is used. On service uniforms, the garrison cover is the only headgear permitted. Marine Corps Dress blues are NEVER authorized for a Young Marine to wear, unlike MCJROTC units which are allowed to wear modified Blue Dress "A" and "B" for balls and other formal events.
When Young Marines first join the program they will enter as a recruit, spending anywhere from 3–4 months at that rank. After graduation they are considered a Young Marine Private (Pvt) (unless they receive the title of Honor Recruit, which advances them to the rank of Private First Class (PFC). In larger recruit classes, an additional recruits can also be promoted to PFC. These meritorious promotions to PFC does not excuse the Young Marine from completing the PFC requirements before earning the next rank. After that, the Young Marine will have to advance to higher ranks based on actual ranks in the United States Marine Corps. The rank structure, in ascending order, goes as follows: Private (Pvt), Private First Class (PFC), Lance Corporal (LCpl), Corporal (Cpl), Sergeant (Sgt), Staff Sergeant (SSgt), Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt), Master Sergeant (MSgt), and then finally to Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt). After the completion of Master Sergeant (MSgt) you can be billeted as a First Sergeant (1stSgt) and as a Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt) you can be billeted as a Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) for a short amount of time.
Young Marines may be billeted with both certain ranks and certain positions. Billeted positions include, but are not limited to, the following: Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Guide, Platoon Sergeant, Platoon Leader, Unit Guide, Unit Gunnery Sergeant, Unit First Sergeant, and Company Sergeant Major. In some cases, a Young Marine need not have the rank their billet entitles to be granted that billet, such as a Staff Sergeant being able to have the billet of Unit Gunnery Sergeant. Billets may also apply to different positions in the organizational structure, from a position within the squad (i.e. Squad leader) to the battalion (i.e. Battalion Sergeant Major.) Not all billets may be available, depending upon the size of the unit.
|Rank Structure of the Young Marines|
|Abbreviation||YM/Pvt||YM/PFC||YM/LCpl||YM/Cpl||YM/Sgt||YM/SSgt||YM/GySgt||YM/MSgt||YM/MGySgt||YM/1stSgt [Billet]||YM/SgtMaj [Billet]|
Upon completion of the Young Marines, during an honorable discharge at the end of high school, one may enlist in the U.S. Military with the rank of E2 if the rank of YM/Sergeant has been attained in the Young Marines. This typically takes about 3 years.
To show completion of certain requirements, Young Marines are awarded ribbons and devices. There are currently 58 ribbons that can be earned. Every year a Young Marine is chosen for Young Marine of the Year. There are different types of Young Marines of the Year. There is a Unit Young Marine of the year, Battalion YMOY, Regiment YMOY, Division YMOY, and a National YMOY.
Ribbons are awarded in 4 levels:
- Level 1 – Personal Decorations
- Level 2 – Achievement Awards
- Level 3 – Service Awards
- Level 4 – Qualification Awards
- Distinguished Order of Merit (D.O.M.)
The ribbons awarded to the Young Marines are as follows:
Young Marines Alumni Association
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- United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Navy League Cadet Corps
- Civil Air Patrol Cadet
- The United States Marines
- Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps
- American Cadet Alliance
- California Cadet Corps
- Boy Scouts of America
- "Registered Adult Manual" (PDF). May 2013. p. 2‑3.
- "Young Marines--What we do".
- "Young Marines Basic Guidebook" (PDF).
- "Recruiting, Retention, and Reservist Promotion Act of 2000 (HR 4208)".
- "DOD ANNOUNCES COUNTERDRUG AWARDS". defense.gov. October 24, 2001. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25.
- Tehama County Young Marines Commitment Archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20130804165657/http://www.tehamacountyyoungmarines.com/Commitment.html
- Major General Melvin G. Spiese (8 Nov 2008). "Marine Corps Order P1533.6D" (PDF). The United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-10.
- S. E. Murray (18 Mar 2010). "Marine Corps Order 5760.4C" (PDF). The United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-24.
- "Young Marines Ribbon Chart – Order of Precedence" (PDF). Young Marines. Retrieved 19 February 2018.