1958: First Young Marine Unit formed in Waterbury, CT by members of the Brass City Detachment of the Marine Corps League for their sons to march in a community parade.

1959: Members of the Brass City Detachment opened the Young Marines program for enrollment to the general public, therefore, the year 1959 is celebrated as the official birth date of the Young Marines

1960: Young Marines of Waterbury grow to 300 Young Marines and 20 adult instructors.

1962: The Young Marines program grows to over 1500 boys in 10 cities and towns and gains national attention.

1965: Officially chartered on October 17, 1965 by the Marine Corps League and becomes a national youth program.

1974: Chartered as a subsidiary organization of the Marine Corps League.

1975: Membership is extended to females.

1977: Young Marines governing body is elected and the Young Marines National By- laws are adopted.

1978: National By-laws approved at the Marine Corps League.

1980: Young Marines granted not-for-profit status as a youth educational organization by the Internal Revenue Service classification of 501(c) 3.

1993: Young Marines grow to 1,000 Young Marines and 300 adults in 45 units and becomes the focal point for the U.S. Marine Youth Drug Demand Reduction Program.

1995: Young Marines become international with units forming in Okinawa, Japan.

1999: Former Marine Jim Parker retires after serving over 9 years as the National Director. Young Marines Board of Directors hire retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kessler as the National Executive Director.


  • Young Marines program expands to over 200 units in 38 States with over 11,000 Young Marines and nearly 2,000 adult volunteers.
  • Young Marines participate in Youth Restoration Corps project along the Russian River in Alaska restoring Salmon Habitat.


  • Summer Program of Adventures, Challenges, Encampments, and Schools (SPACES) is introduced with over 3,300 Young Marines participating.
  • Young Marine units are formed at U.S. bases in Germany for military dependents.
  • Young Marines introduce the first annual: Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week. This continues to be an annual one-week tribute each November

2002: An affiliation formed between the Young Marines and the Australian Young Marines.

  • The Young Marines officially adopt a new motto: "Strengthening the lives of America's youth".
  • Young Marines join with Army Cadets from Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden in its first cultural foreign exchange program.
  • The Young Marines welcome a very special new member to its ranks, Chester, our puppy bulldog mascot.

2003: The Young Marines officially introduce their new celebrity spokesperson, R. Lee Ermey.

2004: Eleven Young Marines travel to the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, along with veterans of that battle, to commemorate the famous flag raising by the Marines at Mount Siribachi. Young Marine members have returned to Iwo Jima on an annual basis every year since.

2005: The Young Marines celebrates their 40th anniversary of receiving their official charter.


  • Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week campaign achieves an all-time high by reaching out to over 30,000 veterans during the weeklong tribute.
  • Young Marines attend the inauguration ceremonies of the National Museum of the Marine Corps


  • One of the first Young Marines, once the program was open for public enrollment, Mr. Robert LaChance, donates his personal memorabilia, from the original Waterbury, unit to the Young Marines national organization.
  • Young Marines are named to the 2007 Associations Advance America Award’s Honor Roll

2008: The Young Marines prepare for their 50th anniversary celebration in April 2009 where the program began by a group of dedicated members of the Marine Corps League in Waterbury, CT in 1959.

2009: Hundreds of Young Marines from across the country travel to Waterbury, CT, the birthplace of the program, to celebrate 50 years of "Strengthening the lives of America's youth" where they met with some of the original founders and some of the very first Young Marines. At the 50th anniversary celebration, Young Marines marched in a parade that was held just for them in Waterbury, CT, the same street that the very first Young Marines marched. Waterbury, CT names West Main Street, "Young Marine Way“ An engraved marble bench on the town green in downtown Waterbury is dedicated to the Young Marines

2012: The Young Marines are awarded the Secretary of Defense Fulcrum Shield Award for outstanding efforts during Red ribbon Week and Drug Demand Reduction.