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thedrifter
06-07-03, 09:14 AM
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification Number: 200365233037
Story by Cpl. Krystal N. Leach



MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(June 6, 2003) -- Although they are smaller in stature, their ideals and standards mirror those of the real Marine Corps. The Miramar Young Marines meet two Saturdays a month at Camp Elliot, where they learn skills intended to make them productive citizens.

"We develop responsible citizens using the volunteer resources of civilian and military partnership," said Staff Sgt. Jose Escarsega, commanding officer, Miramar Young Marines, about the group's mission.

According to Escarsega their mission also states that the Young Marine program is a national organization that educates and inspires youth, between the ages of eight and 17, within their communities by promoting a healthy and drug free lifestyle through instructional and adventurous activities.

"We take them camping for the weekend where they learn land navigation, outdoor survival, and first aid," Escarsega commented. "They learn to cook a meal, build a house, and build a campfire safely."

The youths also learn common Marine Corps standards, which are used to enhance the productivity of their lives and communities.

"We try to be the (positive) example in their school and community," said Lance Cpl. Robert W. Gomes, Young Marines instructor.

Gomes, who volunteers his free time to be an instructor for the program, recalls his involvement with the program at an early age.

"I participated in the program in high school and it help me find my way in life," Gomes recalled. "I was at that fork in the road in life and where I could have traveled down the wrong path, but this program helped save me."

Gomes explained how now as a Young Marine instructor and a Marine he hopes to make a positive impact in a young person's life.

According to Young Marine Pfc. Michael K. Knight, 11, the program inspired him to want to serve his country.

"The Young Marines will get me ready for when I go into the service," Knight said. "I want to be more of a front-line person."

Knight also admitted to having become a little more disciplined since joining the program.

Perhaps discipline is the reason why Lance Cpl. Samantha N. Adair, 12, is a straight "A" student in school. She was recently meritoriously promoted due to her level of performance in the program.

"I thought I wasn't going to make it through boot camp," Adair explained. "Boot camp was very challenging, but with the motivation of my instructors telling me 'you can do it,' I made it through."

Similar to Marine Corps recruit training, each recruit must make it through Young Marine boot camp successfully, which goes every Saturday for three months, before earning the title as a Young Marine, according to Escarsega.

"We hold them to Marine Corps standards, but we also keep in mind that they are kids," Gomes concluded.


The Drifter