Young Marines program promotes 15 youths
The Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines promoted 15 people Saturday to various ranks, ranging from private first class to sergeant, in a ceremony at the program’s headquarters in Bossier City.
“Today’s promotions mark a huge accomplishment for these young men and women, and I encourage them to hold their heads high in their achievements as they set an example for others to follow,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington.
Promoted to private first class were Ray Cox, Caleb Dillick, Jacob Elmore, Collin Winne, Micha Dunn, Robert Cook, Tanner Kendal and Louis Smith.
Promoted to lance corporal were Jacob Lapprarie, Joseph Mitchell, Bradley Davis and Connor Bartlett.
Promoted to corporal were Joseph Stephens and Joshua Stephens.
Promoted to sergeant was Daniel Stephens.
“This achievement means their hard work is paying off,” said Deputy Steve Hoff, commanding officer of the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines and eight-year Marine Corps veteran.
For Michelle Cox, seeing her son promoted was a very proud moment.
“In the Young Marines, they learn respect and honor for their country,” said Michelle, mother of Pfc. Ray Cox and chemistry teacher at C.E. Byrd High School. She said Ray has always wanted to be in the Marine Corps, and Saturday’s promotion is a step in that direction.
“In the Young Marines, he’s now thinking about life and how he can achieve his goals,” said Michelle, whose younger son, Corey, is also a Young Marine. “Ray has learned a lot, his respect level is higher, and he’s learned how to communicate better,” she said, noting that her son knows how to address people much better in face-to-face communication instead of simply talking or texting on a cell phone. His promotion also comes with more responsibility.
“I’ve been able to teach les sons to other Young marines on drug demand reduction, physical training and leadership,” said Cox, who’s been a Young Marine for a little more than a year. “I can help others, and it helps them grow up.”
The Young Marines were promoted after successfully completing various requirements, including completion of their guidebooks, being a part of the Young Marines staff or attendance at the Young Marines Encampment and Junior Leadership School in Bunkie, La., in June.
Deputy Hoff, a four-year veteran of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, says he sees a lot of disci pline issues in youth, whether in the school room or the court room.
“There seems to be a lack of guidance and direction with young people,” he said, “and in the Young Marines we’re giving them the tools that give them selfconfidence. Some kids come here to the Young Marines and can’t even look you in the eye. Before long, though, you see a completely different kid.”
For 12-year-old Pfc. Lisa Thomas, who was previously promoted to private first class, the Young Marines has changed her.
“There are so many other things I could be doing, but I come here, and it’s an honor,” said Thomas, who is now in her second year as a Young Marine. She was one of a dozen Young Marines who laid flags at the graves of hundreds of service members at Hillcrest Cemetery in Haughton During Memorial Day weekend on May 25. She says she now has a tremendous passion and respect for the American flag and what it represents after visiting the cemetery.
“It’s not just a piece of cloth with stars and stripes,” Thomas said. “It’s a symbol of the men and women who have supported it. In America, we have freedom to make choices, and the flag is a symbol of all the men and women who died for that flag.
“If those people weren't there to protect us so we can sleep in our beds at night, we would need another flag flying on our flagpoles, on our soil,” Thomas noted.