Young Marines part of Pearl Harbor events

REPRESENTATIVES — Three Tri-State Young Marines members selected to represent the Ohio Valley at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade and commemoration activities under way through Dec. 9 are, front, from left, Young Marine Pvt. 1st Class Richard Barr Jr. and Young Marine Lance Cpl. David Connors; and back, Young Martin 1st Sgt. Enrique Herrera. -- Contributed

WEIRTON — Each year, Young Marines from across the country travel to Pearl Harbor and the Navajo Code Talkers in Window Rock, Ariz., to honor surviving veterans and their families for their historic and dedicated service to the United States.

This year, three members of the Weirton-based Tri-State Young Marines have been selected to represent the Ohio Valley at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade and commemoration activities that began Dec. 2 and continue through Dec. 9.

The three are Young Marine 1st Sgt. Enrique Herrera of Follansbee, a junior at Brooke High School; Young Marine Lance Cpl. David Connors of Weirton, a fifth-grade pupil at St. Paul Catholic School; and Young Marine Pvt. 1st Class Richard Barr Jr. of Mingo Junction, a fourth-grade pupil at Pugliese West Elementary in Steubenville.

The representatives join with other Young Marine units from around the country in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States’ entry into World War II.

“Our unit will be proudly representing the Ohio Valley on a national stage,” a Tri-State Young Marines spokesperson said.

“They are very excited about this incredible opportunity. Their experience will undoubtedly change their perspectives and enhance their education as a whole,” the spokesperson added. “They are most looking forward to meeting World War II veterans from around the United States to hear them recall their experiences.”

The Tri-State Young Marines will host an open house from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at the VFW Post 2716 , 3534 Main St., Weirton, an occasion for the three representatives to share their experiences of touring Pearl Harbor, staying aboard USMC base Kaneohe Bay, meeting WWII veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors and participating in the parade.

“Individually, these three Young Marines have been working hard raising funds through donation-request letters for personal sponsorships to raise funds to cover meals, transportation and airfare for themselves plus two chaperones,” the spokesperson noted.

Each raised more than $1,000 through donations from local veteran groups, such as AMVETS, the American Legion and VFW. Donations also came from local businesses, the Young Marines’ friends and family members and fundraising through candy bar sales.

“Because of those donations, our Young Marines will get to experience an amazing educational opportunity,” the spokesperson explained. “They will meet with Pearl Harbor survivors, lay a wreath at the National Memorial of the Pacific and become part of history by participating in the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Parade and festivities. They will perform community service of beach cleanup for the USMC base, take a hike on sniper hill and even have a luau.”

Looking ahead, the Tri-State Young Marines are pre-planning a trip in August to Window Rock, Ariz., to participate in the Navajo Code Talkers Day. The unit as a whole has been and will be continuing to raise funds throughout the year via tag days, car washes and candy bar sales. They hope to raise enough funds for all eligible members of the unit to attend and participate.

Gifts can be made any time via check to: Tri-State Young Marines, P.O. Box 2502, Weirton, WV 26062.

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age 8 through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members and focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle, according to a news release.

Since its beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to 281 units with 9,600 youth and 2,400 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Okinawa with affiliates in other countries.