View Full Version : Young Marine praised by general, supervisors, peers

12-15-05, 11:24 AM
Young Marine praised by general, supervisors, peers
MCAS Cherry Point
Story by Cpl. J.R. Stence

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Seventeen-year-old Michael Messmer, a senior at Havelock High School, is the embodiment of the hero in every children's story. Don't let the thin, unassuming, Harry Potterish lad tell you, "I'm just like every kid." From day to day, the regimental sergeant major of the Cherry Point Young Marines commands the respect of his peers and his superiors.

This year, his Young Marine career is culminating. Messmer, who has been named Cherry Point Young Marine of the Year three out of the six years he has been a part of the program, recently returned from touring Iwo Jima with a handpicked group of Young Marines from all over the nation. In March, he will be part of the National Leadership Symposium for the Young Marines, in which he will get to provide input on possible changes to the program.

Even Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Moore, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, has taken notice of Messmer. The general is writing him a letter of recommendation to the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina.

In a scholarship recommendation, Robert J. Sabdo, Messmer's youth group leader, wrote, "Michael is a young man who I can only wish the greatest and best things for because that's all he ever gives of himself. I can honestly tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would be pleased if all three of my boys grew up to act like and carry themselves like Michael Messmer."

From talking to Messmer, his friends and his family, it seems that he begins each day with a purpose. In addition to the Young Marines, Messmer is involved in with several civic organizations in his community, including the Boy Scouts, and is a member of the Cherry Point Baptist Church youth group.

It's plain to see that Michael's mother, Paula Messmer, is proud of her son. She can spout off his awards and accomplishments like a recruit answering questions at a battalion commander's inspection, and she is just as quick with a story about the small things he does that go unnoticed by most people.

Paula mentioned Michael's volunteer work in the community, which includes doing yard work for his neighbors deployed to Iraq without being asked.

"Michael noticed that the lawns were getting high, so he started mowing lawns," she said.

Michael was mowing three lawns and his own, all without pay.

"How many teenagers can you get to mow one lawn?" she asked in astonishment.

Messmer's consideration for others and his initiative are a boon to him in the Young Marines, said Eneida Zavala, the commanding officer for the program here at Cherry Point. Zavala used a story about Staff Sgt. Margarete Arthur, the acting first sergeant of the Cherry Point Young Marines, as an example of Messmer's attributes. Messmer saw that Arthur needed help preparing for a promotion board and began training her without being asked.

"He's a real go-getter," said Zavala. "I didn't tell him anything about Staff Sgt. Arthur, and he made sure her boots were polished, her ribbons were squared away, her uniform was pressed, and her confidence was where it needed to be."

Like a sergeant major in the Marine Corps, Messmer's job is to look after the welfare of his subordinates and ensure that they are being trained adequately. He supervises and organizes training in first aid, land navigation, swimming, close order drill and physical fitness.

In Messmer's Young Marine service record book, there are more than 15 full pages that document his service to the community and his fellow Marines; the breast of his service alpha blouse is crammed with ribbons that disappear under his left lapel.

Messmer is satisfied with his accomplishments in the Young Marines, but he is no prima donna.

"I wanted to be a sergeant major," he said. "Now, here I am, six years later, a sergeant major."

However, Michael recognizes his shortcomings - he isn't an exceptional athlete - and realizes he will have to improve in certain areas as he takes the next major step of his life, basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. He seems to have a grasp of the importance of each of his decisions, and he appears to see the Young Marines as a training ground for his next career step.

"I am who I am because I'm a Young Marine," said Messmer. "It has led me to make some better choices," he said, specifying his decision to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

By all accounts, Messmer is a careful, serious person, but he is also a 17-year-old. He is into girls, surfing the internet, going to the movies, and managing "Black Ice," a cover band for the "Misfits," a legendary punk rock band. Michael's mom said a lot of his classmates would probably describe him as a funny kid, and Arthur, an eighth-grader in Havelock Middle School, said "We're really close. He's like a brother to me."

But, the qualities that make Messmer stand out among his peers are his maturity and his strong set of moral values.

In a scholarship recommendation, Marion Sykes Jr., the chairman of deacons at the Cherry Point Baptist Church, paid Michael what may be the highest compliment.

"He conducts himself in an impeccable manner," said Sykes, "and I have never observed or heard of any activity that was suspect … It is upon the shoulders and character of young men like Michael that the future of this nation rests."