Former National Young Marines of the Year
2021 - 2022 National Young Marine of the Year
Greater Cleveland Young Marines, Fairview Park, Ohio
“Young Marines has helped me become who I am today. Throughout my ten years in the program, Young Marines and Adult Volunteers who have mentored me, taught me the skills of leadership in every aspect of life, as well as the importance of work ethic. The values that Young Marines have instilled in my everyday life are ones that I will proudly take into the next chapter of my life. The program has changed my life completely for the better, and everything I have learned will continue to help me on my journey.”
Mario Koch retired from the program in August 2022 and is attending Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is studying Exercise Physiology and plans to graduate with a BS degree in May of 2026. After graduation Mario hopes to become an athletic trainer for a professional sports team.
2020 - 2021 National Young Marine of the Year
Mountain View Young Marines, Centennial, Colorado
“I will forever be thankful for my time in the Young Marines program! The program has given me confidence, the ability to work as a team with anyone, the discipline to stick with my goals until they are achieved, and finally the knowledge I need to not only live a drug free life, but to advocate for it as well. I've learned that one person can make a difference, the Young Marines gives us leaders that come out of the program making positive ripples in communities across the country."
Abbi Waters will be shipping out to Paris Island in August of 2021 to join the United States Marine Corps. She will be working in aviation mechanics after graduation from recruit training and looks forward to eventually becoming a drill instructor. Her future goal is to become a SgtMaj in the Marine Corps.
2019 - 2020 National Young Marine of the Year
Southeast County Young Marines, Seal Beach, California
“The Young Marine program has truly made me the person I am today. For nine years, I grew up learning and leading while making many friends along the way. This program has prepared me for a successful future, has enriched my life with so much knowledge, and has offered impactful experiences as well as the blessings of long-lasting friendships. I will be forever grateful for this program and to those who volunteer to enrich the lives of our youth. Remember to always stay Passionate, Positive, and Productive! Oorah Young Marines!"
Megan Lynch retired from the Young Marines in 2020 and is attending Biola University in California. She is studying to earn an undergraduate degree in English - Secondary Education, with a minor in Theology. Currently she is serving as the English Guild President, First Generation Scholar and Mentor, and a future student ambassador. She is expected to graduate from Biola in May of 2024. After graduation Lynch hopes to work in civilian intelligence, or work for the Department of Defense of Education Activity (DODEA) as an English teacher for 8th graders.
2018 - 2019 National Young Marine of the Year
Tarrant County Young Marines at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas
“As my term as National Young Marine of the Year ended, my Young Marines career ended, too. It was bittersweet, and I left the Young Marines knowing I have impacted the program, but also knowing the program has impacted me in so many ways. I originally planned on going into the military straight out of high school, but unfortunately that did not go as planned. However, one thing the program taught me was to be resilient.”
Kayla Colacion received a scholarship to play Lacrosse at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. She is majoring in Exercise Science: Strength and Conditioning and minoring in Nutrition.
2017 - 2018 National Young Marine of the Year
Pikes Peak Young Marines, Fountain, Colorado
“The Young Marines taught me that service and leadership are inseparable. Service to others will always be a prerequisite for any leader. The Young Marines broadened my horizons and sharpened my passion for serving others. I met great people and forged friendships that stand today.”
Angel Orozco retired from the Young Marines at the same time he earned an associate degree in General Studies from Pikes Peak Community College. He was named a Daniels Scholar and was awarded a four-year, full-ride scholarship to any institution in the nation. After retiring from the Young Marines and graduating, Orozco pursued studies at Arizona State University and joined the Arizona Army National Guard.
2016 - 2017 National Young Marine of the Year
Westover Young Marines, Chicopee, Massachusetts
“The Young Marines helped me become confident in myself. It taught me how to be a compassionate leader.”
Joseph Bacon retired from the Young Marines and graduated from high school in 2017. He attended Norwich University, a senior military college in Vermont and studied Electrical and Computer Engineering. He completed 19 weeks of Rockdom training and became a member of the Corps. of Cadets during his freshman year. Bacon commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in May of 2021. He is now a Computer Developmental Engineer (62E1C) with the 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron.
2015 - 2016 National Young Marine of the Year
Midwest Central Young Marines in Peoria, Illinois
“The Young Marines filled me with a drive for leadership and a sense of civic duty that has made its way into every aspect of my life and now influences the way I see the world and the life I plan to make in it. It taught me that any problem can be solved, and that our failures are merely an opportunity for growth and betterment.”
Upon retirement from the Young Marines, Ward enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and attended boot camp and infantry training on the west coast. He was stationed in Washington D.C., where he worked in the Guard Company at Marine Barracks 8th and I. He transferred to the White House Communications Agency, where he was a section leader and occasionally worked as a White House NCO. Ward made three overseas trips with the White House Communications Agency, participated in five foreign head of state visits, and multiple annual ceremonies at the White House.
Currently, Ward is a Sergeant stationed with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Hawaii and has completed one deployment. He plans to spend another four years in the Marine Corps as an instructor at Security Forces school while finishing his bachelor’s degree in pursuit of attending law school.
2014 - 2015 National Young Marine of the Year
Oregon Cascade Young Marines, Portland, Oregon
“Above all else, the Young Marines provided me with a sense of identity and conviction that has guided me to be true to myself and confident in any new endeavor I try.”
Since retiring from the Young Marines in 2015, DeWeese has continued his passion for travel, whether that be backpacking across Europe or hiking through the Icelandic mountains. In his spare time, he surfs, hikes and see’s every new movie that is released. He is working at Nike World Headquarters on the Sport Experience Team where he can blend his passion for activity with his career.
2013 - 2014 National Young Marine of the Year
Dakota Orr (nee Richter)
Northern Kentucky Young Marines, Covington, Kentucky
“Public speaking prowess, increased self-awareness, and nation-wide connections are all benefits of the Young Marines program. Even more critical were the interactions with diverse groups, both youth and adult volunteers, from all regions and walks of life. This early exposure to backgrounds and circumstances different from my own was a defining experience. It well-prepared me to be a more empathetic peer, classmate, and leader.”
Upon retiring from the Young Marines in 2014, Orr entered the United States Coast Guard Academy as a proud member of the class of 2018. During her time as a cadet, she attended the American Service Academies program, joining cadets and midshipmen in Poland to study the Holocaust as well as contemporary moral and ethical dilemmas facing our nation’s military leaders. In her senior year, she was selected to serve as the Regimental Commander of the Corps of Cadets. Orr graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Orr currently works for Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer in Seattle, Washington, where her husband (and classmate) is currently stationed.
2012 - 2013 National Young Marine of the Year
Hamilton Young Marines, Baltimore, Maryland
“Through my experiences as a Young Marine, I learned the importance of, and discovered my passion for, serving my community which has been the theme of my education and continues to be the driving force behind everything I do.”
After retiring from the Young Marines in June 2013, Behringer attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While at Duquesne she interned for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation working in community relations and Make-A-Wish Greater PA and WV helping the wish team fulfill children’s wishes.
Behringer also joined Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority that focuses on serving surrounding communities. She served as the chapter’s Service Vice President coordinating projects with service partners and more than 100 members.
In May 2017, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Multiplatform Journalism. After graduation, Behringer continued her education at Duquesne University to pursue a Juris Doctorate at the Duquesne University School of Law. She was a member of the Appellate Moot Court Board, competing at appellate advocacy competitions in both her second and third year. She also served as a research assistant. Behringer graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in May of 2020 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in December 2020.
Today, Behringer serves as a Judicial Law Clerk for The Honorable Meagan Bilik-DeFazio on the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, Casey.
2008 - 2009 National Young Marine of the Year
Columbia River Young Marines, Tri-Cities, Washington
“The attention to detail taught in the Young Marines was the most impactful for me and how it doesn't stop with the uniform. It goes beyond the uniform, or the serviceability of equipment, and ventures into the world of effectively communicating the execution of plans and ideas.”
After retirement from the Young Marines, Brim went to Washington State University on an NROTC scholarship. In 2013, He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and went on to serve as an aircraft maintenance officer following completion of The Basic School. Brim left active duty in 2018 and currently works for the state of Texas in data analysis and reporting. He is currently married and has one son.
2007 - 2008 National Young Marine of the Year
South East Wisconsin Young Marines, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
“Young Marines taught me to always take an opportunity and never hold back because of fear. This program has taught me to be adventurous, explore, and seize every opportunity that I am presented.”
Since Schmidt’s time in the Young Marines, she has studied elementary and early childhood education at Milwaukee Area Technical College and University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Currently, she is a Lead Conservation Educator for the Racine Zoological Society & Racine County Zoo. Daily, she gets to combine her interests through education of animals, conservation, and environment. Schmidt also owns a photography business specializing in family photography.
Schmidt is currently the public relations officer for the South East Wisconsin Young Marines, where her son is currently a youth member. She has four children, Gavin, Scarlett, Lawson, and Gemma who are all excited to experience the program.
2006 - 2007 National Young Marine of the Year
Chris San Jose
Dade County Young Marines, Miami, Florida
“The Young Marines taught me the ability to take initiative and be courageous in your decision-making in life.”
After retirement from the Young Marines, San Jose attended Florida State University and graduated in 2011 with a bachelors in Finance and Real Estate. Soon after graduation he partnered with a real estate broker and co-founded Yale Realty & Capital Advisors. The boutique firm has grown to more than 20 employees and sells and finances affordable housing properties, specifically manufactured home communities.
San Jose spent several years volunteering as an adult training officer for Miami Dade Young Marines. He enjoys traveling internationally, participating on mission trips, mentoring youth, and he is training to be a private pilot.
2004 - 2005 National Young Marine of the Year
Camp Johnson Young Marines, Jacksonville, North Carolina
“The Young Marines has given me the necessary skills and tools to be an active global citizen and a contributing member of the society we live in today. Through the experiences and opportunities I have been afforded through the Young Marines, the high school classroom is where I have chosen to use those skills and tools to carry on the message of living a healthy drug-free lifestyle.”
After retirement from the Young Marines, Huff earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, while on a full athletic scholarship to play baseball.
After a life-changing car accident days before graduation and the Major League Baseball draft his senior year, Huff went back to school after recovering. He received a master’s degree in Teaching with a concentration in Social Studies and a teaching license at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Huff served as an intern for Headquarters Young Marines beginning in 2006 and each subsequent year during the existence of intern programs.
Huff was the executive director of the Young Marines Alumni Association in 2014 and served until 2018. Today, Huff is a high school social studies teacher and owns a photography business. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Tiara, and two children Aubrie and Ansley.
2003 - 2004 National Young Marine of the Year
Jason Asbill, J.D., M.P.A.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines, New Orleans, Louisiana
“At an early age, the Young Marines set me on a path to success. The Young Marines helped me develop leadership skills which I continue to use in my professional life. The youth organization also instilled a duty to serve others. The experience I am most thankful for, however, is the opportunity to work on teams where diversity is the norm."
Since retirement from the Young Marines, he earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and a Doctor of Jurisprudence. During and shortly after law school, Asbill clerked for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office legal department, his home unit's sponsor. A member of Phi Delta Phi Legal Honor Society, he excelled in law school and graduated cum laude.
Asbill opened his own law firm and is a practicing attorney and certified mediator in the New Orleans area. As a member of the Louisiana State Bar, he was appointed to the Bar Association House of Delegates and today, he spends countless hours volunteering as a judge for high school civic and mock trial competitions, Wills for Heroes sponsor, and pro bono legal services.
Asbill served as an intern for Headquarters Young Marines in the summer of 2005, and then as an Adult Volunteer in Louisiana and Arkansas. He was a member of the Young Marines Alumni Association Advisory Council (2014-2018) and currently serves as the Executive Director of the of the Young Marines Alumni Association. In 2018, Asbill was elected as Councilman for the City of Harahan where he lives with his wife, Tiffani, and two children, Cooper and Camille.
2002 - 2003 National Young Marine of the Year
Tri-State Young Marines, Weirton, West Virginia
“The Young Marines opened the doors to many incredible and unimaginably positive experiences throughout my adolescent years. The program provided the necessary guidance and discipline I needed at that time in my life and gave me to opportunity to grow above and beyond what I believed I was capable of achieving. The discipline, dedication, and leadership it instilled continues to serve me well on a daily basis. I am sincerely grateful to all of the staff from the National level down to the Unit that helped shape the person I am today."
Following the Young Marines, May enlisted in the Marine Corps as an Infantry Assaultman in 2003. During his time in the Corps May was meritoriously promoted to both Corporal and Sergeant. He then became the Assault Section Leader and a company level trainer in IED identification and countermeasures. May also completed two combat tours in Iraq before leaving in 2010. Following the Corps, May entered the Oil and Gas field where he continues to work to this day developing and managing 24-hour control/operations centers. May currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Ashley, and his three sons, Brenden, Carson, and Kameron.
2000 National Young Marine of the Year
Manuel (Manny) Villavicencio
Young Marines of Dade, Miami, Florida
“The Young Marines taught me leadership skills and dedication to service. My experience in the Young Marines has guided me to become a better more confident communicator in my business dealings and taught me how to give back to my community. I am grateful for my time with the Young Marines and would encourage anyone who is looking for a youth development and leadership program to join the Young Marines.”
Manuel Villavicencio has owned M&K Plywood and Hardware since 2017. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his family of three, his wife Kathy which he has been married to since 2011, his daughter princess Emily, and his son Levi.
1999 - 2000 National Young Marine of the Year
Aaron Frey, DO
Central Virginia Young Marines, Lynchburg, Virginia
“The Young Marines completely changed my life. It gave me an appreciation to learn from those who came before me and a desire to mentor those who are under me. It taught me that honor, courage, and commitment are the most important qualities to pursue and that 'Semper Fidelis' is not just a slogan, but a way of life.”
Since retiring from the Young Marines, Frey attended Campbell University and double majored in government with a concentration in international studies and Spanish with a minor in history. During his undergraduate education he became a firefighter, emergency medical technician, and search and rescue diver.
Frey continued his education and earned Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. He completed an emergency medicine residency in Allentown, Pennsylvania at the Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Recently Frey worked as emergency medicine physician in a small community hospital in Pennsylvania that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, he is a medical toxicology fellow and clinical instructor of emergency medicine at the University of Virginia.