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BSO graduates 30th class of Young Marines

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(Photo by Allen J.M. Smith) Young Marine recruits bow in prayer led by Recruit Owen West during their graduation ceremony held Friday evening at the Bossier Sheriff’s Viking Drive Substation in Bossier City.

Twenty-nine recruits ranging from eight-years-old to teens earned the title as Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines as Class 30 graduated in front of a packed house of 200 people Friday night at the Bossier Sheriff’s Substation in Bossier City.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Guy Adams of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4588 in Bossier City presented a plaque of appreciation to Lavaro Ramey, commanding officer of the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines.  The Young Marines have supported the VFW post over the past few years by placing thousands of U.S. flags on the graves of fallen veterans laid to rest at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Haughton.

Dr. David Walden, addictions counselor and leadership development with Empower Group, LLC, in Bossier City and the first director of the North Louisiana Criminal Justice Academy with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, was the guest speaker.  He encouraged the young graduates to set realistic goals and not to let others stifle their dreams and ambitions.

(Photo by Allen J.M. Smith) Lt. Col. Mike Thornton, USMC (Ret.), presents Justice Oneal Taylor with the Floyd L. Baxter Leadership Award from the Red River Detachment of the Marine Corps League.
(Photo by Allen J.M. Smith) Lt. Col. Mike Thornton, USMC (Ret.), presents Justice Oneal Taylor with the Floyd L. Baxter Leadership Award from the Red River Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mike Thornton of the Red River Detachment of the Marine Corps League presented the Floyd L. Baxter Leadership Award to 14-year-old Justice Oneal Taylor.

Four recruits were meritoriously promoted to the rank of private first class – Justice Oneal Taylor; Jason Scales, 13; Taylen Brown, 14; and Jordan Parker, 15.

The honor graduate award was earned by Justice Oneal Taylor, and the academic award went to Jason Scales, 13.

The graduates recited the Young Marines Obligation, a statement that sums up what it means to be a Young Marine – “From this day forward, I sincerely promise, I will set an example for all other youth to follow, and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my Country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines. These I will honor and respect in a manner that will reflect credit upon them and myself. Semper Fidelis (Latin, Always Faithful!)

The Young Marines program is a national program founded in 1958 and is the official youth program of the United States Marine Corps.  More than 1,100 young men and women have graduated from the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines program since its inception here in 2002.  The volunteer program is sponsored and administered by Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington and is commanded by Marine Corps 1st Sgt. (Ret.) Lavaro Ramey of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.  Kim Elmore and Deputies Jeremy Johnston and John Jeter of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office served as instructors for Class 30.

The program gained national attention when U.S. Department of Justice denied $30,000 in funding for the Young Marines program last spring because of the mention of God and voluntary prayer in the program. As it stands now, Whittington told the Press-Tribune earlier this month that the the BSO is in one corner and the DOJ is in a separate corner.

“They’ve moved on from religious criticism to other parts they disagree with — style and methods of the program they don’t think are effective,” said a defiant Whittington. “We don’t have the money, but we’re still doing the program like we think it should be done.”

To find out more about the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines program, call 318-965-3500, go online at www.bossiersheriff.com  or visit the Viking Drive Substation at 2510 Viking Drive in Bossier City.