MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz., -- A group of 12 youth from the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps program, based in El Centro, Calif., visited the station on Sept. 29 to see the inner workings of a Marine base and find out the different occupational options the military has to offer.
The cadet corps is an anti-drug and anti-gang program for youths 13-17 and is designed to help participants learn about becoming effective citizens, said Pedro Alaniz, Desert Eagle Squadron commanding officer. It also gives the cadets the opportunity to see what the military is like, focusing specifically on the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and the Merchant Marines.
“They are also given an opportunity to use this as a stepping stone into the military,” said Alaniz. “If they do choose to go into the military, and do well in the program, they will be able to enlist in the (Navy) as an E-3 and the Marine Corps as an E-2.”
But it’s important for parents to know that this program is not a recruiting tool. It is only a way to introduce youth to the military while instilling its values into them, said Alaniz.
Gunnery Sgt. Stanley Meaderds, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 Headquarters Company first sergeant, and two soldiers from the 670th Police Battalion escorted the cadets around station and the Cannon Air Defense Complex.
The cadets started the day early by lining up in the public affairs parking lot, across from the Parade Deck, in a military formation and saluting the raising of morning colors.
After colors sounded, Meaderds took the cadets to the station indoor simulated marksmanship trainer to give them a taste of what makes Marines effective riflemen.
It was good experience for the cadets, because next year they will be firing military weapons, said Alaniz.
It was just cool be able to shoot the same course that Marines shoot, said Cadet Seaman Apprentice Ben Brown, 17.
The cadets also visited the station obstacle course and exchange area.
They finished their visit with a tour of the Cannon Air Defense Complex.
It was an awesome day, said Brown.
“The best part was seeing (Marines) my age doing what they love -- serving this country. I have a lot of respect for what these guys do and it gives me a lot of pride to be in this program.”
It’s always good to give back to the community whenever possible, said Meaderds, a four-year volunteer for the program. The best part about the day was being able too show them how Marines work and train and how much they care for the community.
It’s outstanding to see the Marines take time out of their schedules to spend time with these programs, said Alaniz.
These service members are positive role models and this is a day the cadets will not soon forget, said Alaniz.
The Naval Sea Cadet Corps was created in 1958 by the Navy League of the United States. It follows the same rank structure as the Navy and Coast Guard and offers more than 20 of the Navy’s military occupational specialty fields for the participants to enroll in.
The program consists of two weeks of a shortened Navy boot camp, followed by a military occupational specialty school. The cadets can move up rank, as far as a chief petty officer.