Rhode Island Young Marines

Who We Are

The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school.  The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members.  The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.  The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps' Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.

What we are NOT

The Young Marines is NOT a scared straight program, discipline tool, or recruiting system for the military.


The Young Marines is open to all youth ages 8 through completion of high school.  The only membership requirement is that the youth must be in good standing at school.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings, in 1958, with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Germany, Japan, and affiliates in a host of other countries.  Training Upon joining a local Young Marines unit, youth undergo recruit training, generally spread out over several weekly meetings.  The youth learn general subjects such as history, customs and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure.  After graduating from Young Marines recruit training, the youth have the opportunity to learn more new skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marines uniform and work toward ribbon awards.  Young Marines earn ribbons for achievement in areas such as leadership, community service, swimming, academic excellence, first aid, and drug resistance education.


First Young Marine Unit formed in Waterbury, CT by members of the Brass City Detachment of the Marine Corps League for their sons to march in a community parade.


Members of the Brass City Detachment opened the Young Marines program for enrollment to the general public, therefore, the year 1959 is celebrated as the official birth date of the Young Marines


Young Marines of Waterbury grow to 300 Young Marines and 20 adult instructors.


The Young Marines program grows to over 1500 boys in 10 cities and towns and gains national attention.


Officially chartered on October 17, 1965 by the Marine Corps League and becomes a national youth program.


Chartered as a subsidiary organization of the Marine Corps League.


Membership is extended to females.


Young Marines governing body is elected and the Young Marines National By-laws are adopted.


National By-laws approved at the Marine Corps League.


Young Marines granted not-for-profit status as a youth educational organization by the Internal Revenue Service classification of 501(c) 3.


Young Marines grow to 1,000 Young Marines and 300 adults in 45 units and becomes the focal point for the U.S. Marine Youth Drug Demand Reduction Program.


Young Marines become international with units forming in Okinawa, Japan.


Former Marine Jim Parker retires after serving over 9 years as the National Director. Young Marines Board of Directors hire retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kessler as the National Executive Director.


Young Marines program expands to over 200 units in 38 States with over 11,000 Young Marines and nearly 2,000 adult volunteers.


Young Marines participate in Youth Restoration Corps project along the Russian River in Alaska restoring Salmon Habitat.


Summer Program of Adventures, Challenges, Encampments, and Schools (SPACES) is introduced with over 3.300 Young Marines participating.


Young Marine units are formed at U.S. bases in Germany for military dependents.Young Marines introduce the first annual Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week.  This continues to be an annual one-week tribute each November.  The Young Marines officially adopt a new motto:  "Strengthening the lives of America's youth."


The Young Marines officially introduce their new celebrity spokesperson, R. Lee Ermey.


Eleven Young Marines travel to the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, along with veterans of that battle, to commemorate the famous flag raising by the Marines at Mount Siribachi.  Young Marine members have returned to Iwo Jima on an annual basis every year since.


The Young Marines celebrates their 40th anniversary of receiving their official charter.


Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week campaign achieves an all-time high by reaching out to over 30,000 veterans during the weeklong tribute.  Young Marines attend the inauguration ceremonies of the National Museum of the Marine Corps


One of the first Young Marines, once the program was open for public enrollment, Mr. Robert LaChance, donates his personal memorabilia, from the original Waterbury, unit to the Young Marines national organization.  Young Marines are named to the 2007 Associations Advance America Award’s Honor Roll. 


The Young Marines prepare for their 50th anniversary celebration in April 2009 where the program began by a group of dedicated members of the Marine Corps League in Waterbury, CT in 1959. ​ ​


Hundreds of Young Marines from across the country travel to Waterbury, CT, the birthplace of the program, to celebrate 50 years of "Strengthening the lives of America's youth" where they met with some of the original founders and some of the very first Young Marines.  At the 50th anniversary celebration, Young Marines marched in a parade that was held just for them in Waterbury, CT, the same street that the very first Young Marines marched.Waterbury, CT names West Main Street, "Young Marine Way"An engraved marble bench on the town green in downtown Waterbury is dedicated to the Young Marines.