Young Marines honored at first ball

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – Although it did not actually mark the true anniversary of the start of the organization, the St. John the Baptist Parish Young Marines, which started in March 2010, recently marked a yearly milestone with its first Young Marines Ball.

The ball, which Unit Commander Brian Bertrand plans to make a yearly event, was held at the VFW Hall in LaPlace. It was an occasion for the young men and women in the unit to let their hair down a little bit and get together without uniforms or formations. It was also an occasion to honor some of the unit’s top cadets.

”Each time I have a conversation with the Division 4 commander, he’s blown away,” said Bertrand. “I feel like the luckiest unit commander in the country. I believe that this year is gong to be an unbelievable year.”

In addition to awards for perfect attendance, five Young Marines were singled out for their dedication to the program.

Kenyatte Cannon took home the coveted medal for Young Marine of the Year.

In introducing her, Bertrand told a story of how the young lady, while taking part in a graded running test, stopped to help some of her fellow Young Marines who had fallen behind. This selfless act pushed her over the top, he said.

Other award recipients were Adam Hoover, who received the Lt. Col. Joseph Lucia Award, Tyler Schaeffer, who received the Ox Award, named after a fallen member of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, Brittany Fleet, who received the Nikki Wilking Award, and James Mitter, who received the Most Improved Award.

Additionally, Instructor Denise Simoneaux was honored for her tireless dedication to the unit.

At the conclusion of the awards portion of the evening, Bertrand had a little surprise for the Young Marines.

Each year, one unit is chosen as the top unit in the nation. In order to receive this award, a unit must be chosen as the top unit in progressively larger levels.

“I’ve already been informed at the battalion level we are unit of the year,” said Bertrand.

In recognition of this achievement, each Young Marine received a ribbon for his or her uniform.

Bertrand seemed confident his unit would be chosen as the top unit.

“I don’t expect this to end at the battalion level,” he said. “What we have lined up for Red Ribbon Week is going to blow everyone’s minds.”

Following the awards, the Young Marines enjoyed a potluck meal and danced until the program’s conclusion.