National Young Marine of the Year
Young Marines’ honors are bestowed as recognition of exceptional achievement and serving as a positive example to other youth members and adult leaders. The Young Marines strongly supports achievement and is pleased to reward members whose performance merits extra special attention.
The highest honor given to a youth member is the title of, National Young Marine of the Year (NYMOY).
The NYMOY serves as the official ambassador and spokesperson for the Young Marines. The NYMOY travels to other units throughout the country to lead, motivate, and serve as a role model for the program. In addition, the NYMOY travels across the world to participate in remembrances and ceremonies such as the Reunion of Honor on Iwo Jima, the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Hawaii, the National Navajo Code Talkers Day in Arizona, and more.
Many Young Marines have been inspired by the NYMOY, and many have set goals to someday deserve the honor of being named the National Young Marine of the Year.
The Young Marines organization is divided geographically into six divisions across the United States. Each division selects a Young Marine of the Year who must meet vigorous requirements such as graduating from Advanced Leadership School at the Young Marines National Leadership Academy, maintaining high academic achievement in school, and maintaining high standards of physical fitness. From the six Division Young Marines of the Year, one Young Marine is named National Young Marine of the Year.
2020 - 2021 National Young Marine of the Year
YM/SgtMaj Abbigail Waters
Mountain View Young Marines in Centennial, Colorado
Greetings Young Marines!
My name is YM/SgtMaj Abbigail Waters from Mountain View Young Marines in Centennial, Colorado. I joined the Young Marines program when I was 11 years old in 2014. I loved the program from the first day of recruit training and before I really understood what opportunities would be ahead. I found the Young Marines to be a program where I could be myself, build friendships with youth from around the country, and learn things that would help me be more successful in school.
Throughout my five years in the program, I have been able to attend some amazing SPACES events such as Cowboy Adventure in Montana, Adventure Links in Virginia, Flight Academy in Florida, DEA/LEO in Virginia, and Navajo Code Talker Day in Arizona. The trip to Guam/Iwo Jima was the trip of a lifetime. Hiking Mount Suribachi and escorting the WWII Veterans are things I will treasure forever.
My favorite Young Marine memories have been made while at the National Leadership Academy. The journey through Junior, Senior, and Advanced Leadership schools in Oregon is not only where I have grown as a leader, but where I have met and formed bonds with so many outstanding Young Marines. Finishing in the “Top 10” of ALS allowed me to attend the National Symposium where Young Marines can work together to share ideas on improving the Young Marine program.
I am incredibly honored and excited to serve as your 2020-2021 National Young Marine of the Year. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and working to keep us all connected as our country finds a new normal. I aspire to take part in as many events as possible while focusing on my main goals for the year: getting more of our Young Marines Project Alert-certified, more of our Young Marines earning the DEA device, and multiplying good leadership.
This program has taught me that one Young Marine can make a difference, and I want you all to be part of my positive ripples that we send out into the world. Thank you for this opportunity and honor, Semper Fi!
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Former National Young Marines of the Year
2019 - 2020 National Young Marine of the Year
Southeast County Young Marines
in Seal Beach, California
“The Young Marine program has truly made me the person I am today. For nine years, I grew up learning and leading while making many friends along the way. This program has prepared me for a successful future, has enriched my life with so much knowledge, and has offered impactful experiences as well as the blessings of long-lasting friendships. I will be forever grateful for this program and to those who volunteer to enrich the lives of our youth. Remember to always stay Passionate, Positive, and Productive! Oorah Young Marines!"
Megan Lynch is attending Biola University in La Mirada, California with the goal of earning an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts Multidisciplinary Education with a focus on English/Language Arts. She expects to graduate Biola in 2024 and hopes to join Officer Candidate School (branch to be determined) or work for the Department of Defense of Education Activity (DODEA).
2018 - 2019 National Young Marine of the Year
Tarrant County Young Marines at
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas
“As my term as National Young Marine of the Year ended, my Young Marines career ended, too. It was bittersweet, and I left the Young Marines knowing I have impacted the program, but also knowing the program has impacted me in so many ways. I originally planned on going into the military straight out of high school, but unfortunately that did not go as planned. However, one thing the program taught me was to be resilient.”
Kayla Colacion received a scholarship to play Lacrosse at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. She is majoring in Exercise Science: Strength and Conditioning and minoring in Nutrition.
2017 - 2018 National Young Marine of the Year
Pikes Peak Young Marines, Fountain, Colorado
“The Young Marines taught me how to want and demand more of myself. I learned what it meant to work passionately and tirelessly for what I believed in. The Young Marines broadened my horizons and sharpened my passion for serving others. I met great people and forged friendships that stand today.”
Angel Orozco retired from the Young Marines at the same time he earned an associate degree in General Studies from Pikes Peak Community College. He was named a Daniels Scholar and was awarded a four-year, full-ride scholarship to any institution in the nation. He attends Arizona State University where he is seeking a business degree in Global Politics and a bachelor’s degree in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. During his freshman year, he enlisted in the Arizona Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer. He currently lives in Tempe, Arizona with his wife.
2016 - 2017 National Young Marine of the Year
Westover Young Marines, Chicopee, Massachusetts
“Lead by example and hold no one accountable for a higher standard than the one you set for yourself.”
Joseph Bacon retired from the Young Marines and graduated from high school in 2017. He attends Norwich University, a senior military college in Vermont and studies Electrical and Computer Engineering. He completed 19 weeks of Rockdom training and became a member of the Corps. of Cadets during his freshman year. Bacon completed field training for the Air Force in the summer of 2019 both of which he has risen through the ranks. This year in the Corps. of Cadets, he is a Cadet Major and Officer in Charge of S-6 where he oversees the entire Corps.’ IT operations. In Air Force ROTC, he is a Cadet Major and Group Commander who oversees the training and development of all incoming Air Force ROTC freshmen. Bacon is on track to commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force, and he will graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in May of 2021. He hopes to be part of Air Force Engineering or Space Operations.
2014 - 2015 National Young Marine of the Year
Oregon Cascade Young Marines, Portland, Oregon
“The Young Marines shaped the foundation on which my person was built. The values, principles and ethics imparted to me during my time in the program continue to guide me in my decision making to this day. I reflect on my time in the Young Marines with sweet melancholy. It was a time of growth, expansion, and new experiences. Do not take your time for granted. It is fleeting.”
Since his retirement from the Young Marines, Blake DeWeese has been studying Marketing with a focus in supply chain management at Portland State University in Portland, OR. He attended the Jr's. course for Officer Candidate School in the summer of 2017 with an aim to return for Sr's soon. The Young Marines sparked a passion for traveling that has not dwindled with the passage of time. He spent three weeks traveling across Europe in the summer of 2016. He has maintained several of the relationships formed during my time in the program including his best friends to this day.
2013 - 2014 National Young Marine of the Year
Dakota Orr (nee Richter)
Northern Kentucky Young Marines, Covington, Kentucky
“My time in the Young Marines and my experience representing the program as the Young Marine of the Year contributed largely to my success as a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and even now as a working professional. Public speaking prowess, increased self-awareness, and nation-wide connections are all benefits of the program. Even more critical were the interactions with diverse groups, both youth and adult volunteers from all regions and walks of life. This early exposure to backgrounds and circumstances different from my own was a defining experience. It well-prepared me to be a more empathetic peer, classmate, and leader.”
Upon retiring from the Young Marines in 2014, Dakota Orr entered the United States Coast Guard Academy as a proud member of the class of 2018. During her time as a cadet, she attended the American Service Academies program, joining cadets and midshipmen in Poland to study the Holocaust and contemporary moral and ethical dilemmas facing the nation’s military leaders. In her senior year, she was selected to serve as the Regimental Commander of the Corps of Cadets. She graduated with honors earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Currently, she works for Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer on the Space Coast of Florida, where her husband (and classmate) is stationed currently.
2012 - 2013 National Young Marine of the Year
Hamilton Young Marines, Baltimore, Maryland
“Through my experiences as a Young Marine, I learned the importance of, and discovered my passion for, serving my community which has been the theme of my education and continues to be the driving force behind everything I do.”
After retiring from the Young Marines in June 2013, Behringer attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While at Duquesne she interned for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation working in community relations and Make-A-Wish Greater PA and WV helping the wish team fulfill children’s wishes.
Behringer also joined Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority that focuses on serving surrounding communities. She served as the chapter’s Service Vice President coordinating projects with service partners and more than 100 members.
In May 2017, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Multiplatform Journalism. After graduation, Behringer continued her education at Duquesne University to pursue a Juris Doctorate at the Duquesne University School of Law. She was a member of the Appellate Moot Court Board, competing at appellate advocacy competitions in both her second and third year. She also served as a research assistant. Behringer graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in May of 2020 and is currently studying to take the Pennsylvania Bar Examination. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her fiancé and will be married in August of 2020
2004 - 2005 National Young Marine of the Year
Camp Johnson Young Marines, Jacksonville, North Carolina
“The Young Marines has given me the necessary skills and tools to be an active global citizen and a contributing member of the society we live in today. Through the experiences and opportunities I have been afforded through the Young Marines, the high school classroom is where I have chosen to use those skills and tools to carry on the message of living a healthy drug-free lifestyle.”
After retirement from the Young Marines, Huff earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, while on a full athletic scholarship to play baseball.
After a life-changing car accident days before graduation and the Major League Baseball draft his senior year, Huff went back to school after recovering. He received a master’s degree in Teaching with a concentration in Social Studies and a teaching license at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Huff served as an intern for Headquarters Young Marines beginning in 2006 and each subsequent year during the existence of intern programs.
Huff was the executive director of the Young Marines Alumni Association in 2014 and served until 2018. Today, Huff is a high school social studies teacher and owns a photography business. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Tiara, and two children Aubrie and Ansley.
2003 - 2004 National Young Marine of the Year
Jason Asbill, J.D., M.P.A.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines in New Orleans, Louisiana
“At an early age, the Young Marines set me on a path to success. The Young Marines helped me develop leadership skills which I continue to use in my professional life. The youth organization also instilled a duty to serve others. The experience I am most thankful for, however, is the opportunity to work on teams where diversity is the norm."
Since retirement from the Young Marines, he earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and a Doctor of Jurisprudence. During and shortly after law school, Asbill clerked for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office legal department, his home unit's sponsor. A member of Phi Delta Phi Legal Honor Society, he excelled in law school and graduated cum laude.
Asbill opened his own law firm and is a practicing attorney and certified mediator in the New Orleans area. As a member of the Louisiana State Bar, he was appointed to the Bar Association House of Delegates and today, he spends countless hours volunteering as a judge for high school civic and mock trial competitions, Wills for Heroes sponsor, and pro bono legal services.
Asbill served as an intern for Headquarters Young Marines in the summer of 2005, and then as an Adult Volunteer in Louisiana and Arkansas. He was a member of the Young Marines Alumni Association Advisory Council (2014-2018) and currently serves as the Executive Director of the of the Young Marines Alumni Association. In 2018, Asbill was elected as Councilman for the City of Harahan where he lives with his wife, Tiffani, and two children, Cooper and Camille.