St. John Parish Young Marines have busy fall schedule planned

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011



LAPLACE – As the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines program continues to grow in ranks, the group’s reach has also expanded with a broader spectrum of events on the horizon.

Unit Commander Brian Bertrand said the program recently added 20 new members as part of the unit’s third, or “Charlie,” platoon. He said the program now features more than 50 young men and women from the parish and includes a waiting list of more than 70.

“I am constantly getting calls and communication from parents who want to get their children in the program,” Bertrand said. “When someone gets the chance to be a part of something good and popular, everyone wants to be involved, and that is evident here. It is pure positive.”

Bertrand said the program, which started in the summer of 2010, has grown faster than he ever could have imagined. He said he is overwhelmed by how much the group has caught on in the community.

“I thought it would be at least three or four years before we got to this point,” Bertrand said. “I have a great staff, but there are also a great team of parents who want to volunteer their time. And now we also have area businesses who want to be a part of it.”

Through donations from various local entities and businesses, along with aid from St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones, Bertrand said the Young Marines have been able to thrive where other units in the region have struggled. As a result, Bertrand said his platoon often holds fundraisers to benefit other area Young Marines who may need that extra boost.

“Our annual car wash directly benefits Young Marines programs in our district,” Bertrand said. “The money goes to the district commander, who distributes it as he sees fit. We are one of the few lucky units that has strong community support.”

In addition to the car wash, set for Sept. 10 at Riverlands Ford in LaPlace, Bertrand said the Young Marines have a busy fall on the horizon.

The day after the car wash, the Young Marines have organized a tribute event to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I told my group that we needed to do something big to show the region that the people of St. John Parish have not forgotten,” he said. “The tribute will include police, firefighters and the entire community.”

On Sept. 17, the Young Marines will make an appearance at the annual Sheriff’s Office Expo at Home Depot. The group will participate along with the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit and other elements of the force.

On Oct. 29, the unit will organize a trick-or-treat event for children in the area in advance of Halloween.

“I told the platoons that this is their unit and asked them what sorts of things they wanted to do,” Bertrand said. “A Halloween event was one of those things. They wanted to do something that would allow kids from all parts of the community to come get candy in a safe atmosphere.”

On Nov. 11, Bertrand has organized a Veterans Day Parade and celebration at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve. He said he has been pushing for the parade because of a lack of organized activities on actual Veterans Day.

“The parish has events for the veterans, but it is always the day before,” Bertrand said. “My thought has always been that since there is a day set aside for veterans we should honor them on that day.”

The parade, which has no set start time, will begin at Home Depot in LaPlace and travel west on Airline Highway.

It will conclude at the veterans home in Reserve.

“We don’t know how many veterans will participate yet, but we want the community to line the streets and celebrate them,” Bertrand said.

For more information about the events, or the Young Marines program, visit