Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany --
When members of the Young Marine program met here Saturday, they had the opportunity to participate in Law Enforcement Day. Several local law enforcement agencies presented displays and talked to them about leadership, character and the dangers of drugs and gang participation.
The Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Police Department put on a demonstration involving military working dogs for the group.
“We asked law enforcement to bring something to the kids that they hadn’t heard before,” said retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Randolph Scott, a volunteer with the Young Marines, who completed 30 years active duty in the Marine Corps. He was stationed at MCLB Albany for his last tour of active duty before retirement.
“We want to make sure kids are aware of some of the problems that are out there today, how to say no to drugs, what gangs are, what do you say if gangs try to recruit you and let them see the different kinds of drugs that are out there,” he continued.
There are 22 Young Marines in the training program now, which consists of 13 Saturday’s of training at MCLB Albany, with graduation in December. A total of 55 Young Marines are registered.
Scott stays busy in the Young Marines program by staying in touch with regional schools to educate students about the training available.
“I give applications to principals and counselors and if they have a child that needs help, not necessarily a bad child, but one who needs help, the parents call me and we talk,” explained Scott.
After a three-Saturday training regimen, the Young Marine is evaluated, all Young Marines graduate because the goal is to keep a child on a positive track.
The Albany Police Department had a presence at Law Enforcement Day at the Base Theater.
Preparing young people for what they might encounter on the street is a primary focus of Law Enforcement Day.
“We want these young people to see what it is we do out on the streets,” said Cpl. Bert Jones, Albany Police Department, a 10-year law enforcement veteran who works as a traffic investigator.
“I wish when I was growing up there had been more programs like this. I would have known more about what’s going on out on the street,” he said.
Another Albany Police Department officer participating in Law Enforcement Day talked to the young people about the consequences of making the wrong decisions about drugs and gangs.
“After working for 18 years on gang issues, I tell these kids about what can happen to them if they make a wrong decision,” said Lt. James Williams, investigator, Albany Police Department.
Parents also attended Law Enforcement Day to support their children who were part of the Young Marines program.
“He needs it. He needs the discipline. He needs to know about the drugs and the gangs. There’s a lot of stuff going on out in Lee County where we live and I want him to be aware,” said Karen Hartman, Albany, whose 14-year old son is in the Young Marines.
Young Marine Cpl. Najee Berryhill, an Albany 8th grader, has been in the program since he was in 4th grade.
“I’ve learned a lot about drugs and how to be a leader. I’d like to be a Marine Corps drill instructor when I grow up,” he stated.
Other parents cited increased discipline, better focus and attitude as improvements they’ve seen in their children thanks to their participation in the Young Marines program.
Nathaniel Lowman, retired in 2002 after 24 years of service in the Marine Corps, was one of the founders of Young Marines at MCLB Albany in 1997. He’s now the commanding officer for the local Young Marines and is the executive officer for the state battalion of Young Marines.
“We make a lot of changes in the Young Marines. We deal with a lot of kids from single parent situations and we have parents from a military or a police background help us. We put Young Marines in a position where they can take leadership roles,” he said.
Once Young Marines members complete the program, it’s not uncommon to see them pursue military active duty.
“We have one in Iraq right now, some at Camp Lejeune, some in Okinawa, another one is a major in the Army and others have gone straight into college,” he added.