MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The youth hold their bright blue rifles up and peer over them, looking for the enemy. Behind them a mangled body lies on the ground with others hovering over it. One of the them wears a white helmet and attempts to put a tourniquet over a limb.
The tourniquet breaks. One of the smallest in the group- a thirteen-year-old quickly pulls of her belt and offers it for use.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Williams, an ensign within the ranks of Naval Sea Cadet Corps and its commanding officer aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, smiled brightly as he recalled his Sea Cadets’ journey through the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course.
“It’s amazing how smart they are,” said Williams. “They can be so inventive.”
The Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a national program with a local branch that gives youth adventure while teaching military customs and promoting good citizenship.
Being a cadet exposes youth to the real world of the military. They are able to go out to sea and conduct training in a variety of subjects from marksmanship and photojournalism to culinary arts.
Cadets also have the opportunity to travel the world. The organization has partnerships with similar programs in Australia, Russia, Hong Kong and many other countries.
However, the program is not a recruitment tool. Its main intent is to help create productive citizens, said Williams.
“It teaches discipline in a productive environment,” said Williams. “Cadets can get together with others who are interested in doing good and having fun.”
Members are authorized by the Navy to wear uniforms and are sponsored by the Navy League of the United States. They can earn ribbons for things like earning good grades and being physically fit, and get promoted by going through training.
The Sea Cadets meet once a week for drill. They work out together and take classes. They may go on trips to the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer, or go through an endurance course.
During summer and winter school breaks Sea Cadets can go to ‘boot camp’, a nine-day or two-week experience where the cadets train with others from throughout the country.
While the program teaches discipline, it is not a gruff environment full of stress. The instructors are volunteers who act as mentors to the children. They come from all aspects of the community, regardless of military background. Volunteers go through training and face a screening process.
Membership requires youth to be U.S. citizens, a full time student with at least a C average and free of felony convictions.
For more information visit lejeuneseacadets.org.