Things to know about the Young Marines' visit to Pearl Harbor in December
A group of local kids will take part in ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor next month.
Twelve members of the 1st Wisconsin Young Marines and three adults will travel to Hawaii. Here are five things you need to know about the trip:
1. Who they are: The Young Marines are a nationwide youth organization sponsored by the Marine Corps League. The local group meets at the Marine Corps League building on Highway 51 north of Beloit. The group includes youths age 8-18 from Beloit, Janesville, Milton, Orfordville and elsewhere in the area.
Local commanding officer Curt Martin of Machesney Park, Ill., said the organization's goal is to get youths involved in activities so they don't turn to drugs. They learn military history, close-order drill, swimming, fire safety and survival skills. They are awarded for participation in sports, high academic achievement and for learning foreign languages.
2. It's not all about the Marine Corps: "I'm not a recruiter," Martin said, but if a member wants to join the Marines, he or she enters boot camp as an E-2, which is two pay grades above a normal recruit. But first, the prospective recruit will have to hear from Martin.
"I will tell them all the bad stuff about service first, so when they get in there, their eyes are wide open," he said.
"I will sit down with them and their parents and spill my five minutes of glory," which is what a Marine might expect out of a career, Martin said. "The rest is just an everyday job."
3. Why this is a big deal: The Dec. 7, 1941 attack was a landmark event in American history, and the numbers of those who remember it and fought in that war are dwindling.
This is the first time the Young Marines have been invited to the ceremony, and they probably won't be going again in the foreseeable future, Martin said.
In addition, "This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for 90 percent of these kids, probably," Martin said.
The trip will include visits to other historic sites and yes, some time at the beach.
4. What the local kids will do there: They will be part of a nationwide contingent of 2,700 that will be part of a wreath-laying ceremony at the visitors' center of the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. They also will march in a commemorative parade.
5. To help: The group has asked for business donations and has held fundraisers such as a spaghetti supper, but more is needed to pay for the trip. Contributions can be sent to 1st WI Young Marines, 124 Safe Landing Drive, Machesney Park, Ill., 61115. Include a note or mark on the check if you would like a receipt for tax purposes.