Retired Gunnery Sergeant and Arthur native James Cazel is set to launch the “Kaskaskia Valley Young Marines” unit here in town for boys and girls ages eight through high school graduation.
The Young Marines is a national youth program (over 300 in the U.S.) focused on leadership and citizenship through community service, self-discipline and living a healthy, drug free lifestyle.
Their goal is to help young people learn that true success comes in serving others, living with integrity and working as a team.
Under the goal of CITIZENSHIP, young people will learn to help others, better their community, feel accomplished and earn community service hours.
Under the goal of LEADERSHIP, students will gain confidence, improve communication, inspire new ideas, learn humility and learn how to motivate others.
James commented, “You’re ahead of your generation if you know how to give a good handshake, look someone in the eye and speak with respect.”
James’ 15 year old son Aiden experienced these core goals and values when he attended a Marine Corp JROTC based high school in New Orleans prior to the family’s move to Arthur las year and asked his Dad to consider starting a Young Marines unit here.
Several years earlier while stationed in Camp Pendleton, CA, James had worked with a Young Marines camp for 2 weeks and had been “insanely impressed by it”, so when his son Aiden asked him to consider starting a Young Marines unit, it brought this very positive experience back to mind.
James first approached the VFW and American Legion here in town, and after gaining their support, set out to look for an Executive Officer whose duties would be to act as commander in his absence and lead the staff in all their tasks. He was pleased to find Brian Keagle.
Brian graduated from Tuscola High School, served in the Navy, is a former volunteer fireman of 8 years here in Arthur, and currently works at Mueller in Decatur as a Process Engineer.
The last needed position was as the Unit Adjutant, whose job is to maintain record books, logistics, and order supplies, and James wife, Chastity filled that. The “team” was formed.
To better understand the purpose of the “Young Marines”, James asked us to mention what it is NOT.
It is NOT preparation for the military or a corrective program to address troubled or wayward teens to “scare them straight”, as they will not be equipped with counselors to assist with such issues; rather, it’s a program designed for parents and kids to work in partnership to meet the goals and give the tools necessary to build character that leads to disciplined, service-oriented, team-minded, responsible young people who can make an impact on their community and the world.
James shared, “The first step in success is maintaining consistency in life and I want to offer that element as well as the amazing benefits of learning to work as a team.”
One of the services they have in mind is “Senior Support Day” when young people go out into the community to serve the elderly with needed tasks saying, “If you can’t do something yourself, we want you to know that there is someone who can help you.
Our community here in Arthur is a team as much as our sports teams and we should look for ways to take care of each other the best we can. I want to teach young people to have that kind of heart and passion for others.”
The next informational meeting to learn more details is scheduled for Saturday, August 12 10am – 1pm at the Arthur Fire House 323 W. Columbia St. with the hopes and tentative plans of launching the unit on Saturday, September 2 at the Southern Baptist Church in Arthur.