MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- The Young Marines program aboard the Combat Center graduated nine new Young Marines from its boot camp during a ceremony Saturday.
During the 13-week boot camp, the recruits met every weekend to practice drill, study military history and customs, and train for a final physical fitness test that included push-ups, pull-ups, a shuttle run and crunches.
According to 1st Sgt. Jesse Warren, H&S Co., 1st Tank Battalion, the program offers more to the participants than just physical fitness and military knowledge.
?Our main purpose is to make sure they complete school, obey their parents, and encourage their friends and family to get involved in organizations like this,? said Warren. ?It?s doesn?t have to be this particular organization, but getting involved in any kind of program gives kids something to belong to and instills in them a sense of confidence.?
The official ?Young Marine Purpose? states that the program promotes mental, moral, and physical development, stimulates an interest and respect for academic achievement, and promotes a drug-free lifestyle.
Marine and civilian volunteers, led by acting commanding officer, Sgt. Keith L. Harris, take on the role of mentors to the Young Marines to train them in military discipline and leadership.
?The biggest thing we can do for them is encourage them to strive for their goals, whether those goals are with college, the military, or something else,? said Warren. ?By choosing to participate in the Young Marines, they?re already getting off on the right foot.?
Newly-promoted Young Marine Cpl. Indigo Johnson, platoon sergeant, joined the program in September 1999 to surprise her father, Staff Sgt. Eric Johnson, C Co., 1/7.
?My dad was deployed, and I wanted to surprise him when he got back by joining the Young Marines,? said Johnson. ?I knew it would make him happy because I want to be in the military one day.?
During her three-year career with the Young Marines, Johnson has participated in camps, fundraisers, and various other events.
?My favorite thing we?ve done is definitely rappelling,? said Johnson. ?I was scared at first, but then my dad went down with me and taught me that it was actually a lot of fun.?
The honor graduate from this boot camp?s platoon was PFC Brittany Miranda. Miranda also won the Jane Wayne award, an award given to the girl who scores highest on the physical fitness test. The Iron Mike award, for the high male PFT score, went to Pvt. Jose Beltran, and the Gung Ho award, for the most motivated recruit, went to Pvt. Anthony Altemos.