Originally Published: October 30, 2011 9:57 p.m.
Members of the Central Arizona Young Marines visited with friends, made sure their uniforms were just right, and eyed the triple-layer cake before a ceremony to celebrate their 10th anniversary this past week at the National Guard Armory in Prescott.
The Central Arizona Young Marines started 10 years ago with about three youths and has grown to about 30 now, said John Watson, quartermaster of the organization for those between 8 and 18 years old. The group focuses on a drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free lifestyle and instills leadership, teamwork and discipline as well as a respect for the U.S. and those who serve in the armed forces.
Lance Cpl. Ian Watson described how he earned some of the ribbons on his uniform for learning CPR, first aid, and other skills.
"I like the physical training best and being outdoors," said Pvt. Caleb Stober, 11.
Pvt. Noah Hight, 11, and Recruit Gabe Mendibles, 14, said they joined to help give back to the community.
"I like that you can get promoted," said Pvt. Steven Domina, who also noted how much fun he had on a recent camping trip to Chauncey Ranch.
"During that trip, 23 kids went over the wall in less than 15 minutes because they all worked together," said Sherri Lyon, paymaster of the group, which is supported by the Marine Corps League in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Parents Tony and Robbie Carcoba said they've seen a big change in their sons since they've joined the Young Marines.
"It's given Levi, who is 14, that confidence that he can do this," Tony said. "Now when he talks to someone he looks them in the eye, before he used to look away or at the ground."
Tony said they hope their younger son, Marshall, who is 8, will develop more discipline as part of the group.
As the ceremony began, the Central Arizona Young Marines stood in formation while their Honor Guard presented the colors and the group said the pledge of allegiance.
Norm Stephens, the group's executive officer, said their successful raffle helped pay for 28 new pair of boots for some Young Marines, 13 new camping tents, new rifles "that look more like the real thing" before the drill team's next competition in Phoenix in November, a donation of $1,100 to the Semper Fi Fund and a donation of $1,100 in toys to the local Marine Corps League's Toys for Tots program.
"The Young Marines will shop and help sort the toys that go to children, because who can decide what a 12-year-old boy would like better than a 12-year-old boy?" Stephens said.
Then the group had a traditional U.S. Marine Corps cake-cutting ceremony using an officer's sword to cut the cake and present the first piece of cake to the oldest member there, and then the youngest.