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Andy Richardson – Guest Contributor
Feb 5 @ 14:57
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The Young Marines, a national youth organization, has named the Division 4 Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj Kayla Colacion, 16, of Keller, Texas. She is a member of the Tarrant County Young Marines which meets in Fort Worth. Colacion is a sophomore at Timber Creek High School.

Colacion is the top Young Marine in Division 4 which includes seven states: Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Over the course of the year, she will travel to other units throughout the division to lead, motivate, and serve as a role model.

"I'm amazed about being named Division 4 Young Marines of the Year,” she said. “This has been a goal of mine since I first joined, and for it to become a reality – amazing.”

Colacion joined the Young Marines at age ten and is in her sixth year in the program.

“I've always wanted to join the military,” she said, “and I thought the Young Marines would help me get ahead of the game. What caught my attention was how close each Young Marine is to one another. It’s truly a big family.”

Colacion is an honor graduate of the Young Marines’ Junior Leadership School. She was also named Senior Leadership School Molly Marine, Advanced Leadership School Top Ten, and she was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award Gold.

Outside the Young Marines, Colacion is involved in her high school as a cross country runner and as a student athletic trainer for both football and girls’ basketball.

As Division 4 Young Marine of the Year, Colacion will escort WWII veterans next spring to the annual Reunion of Honor trip to Guam and Iwo Jima.

She would like to attend the United States Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy to become a pilot.

She is the daughter of Christine Colacion who is a registered adult volunteer for the Tarrant County Young Marines. Her step-father is Jesse Zuniga who is a USMC SSgt (Ret). She has one sister who is a law enforcement psychologist.

“The Young Marines has helped me create a pathway for my future,” Colacion said. “I am so grateful for this program, because I have met some of the greatest people. They have helped me along the way, and I can’t thank them enough.”

How it works

The Young Marines organization is divided into six divisions across the United States. Each Young Marine goes through a series of selection processes starting at the unit level, going through battalion, regiment and on to the division. Then one Young Marine of the Year is selected from each division.

From these six winners, one will be named the National Young Marine of the Year.

Colacion will represent her division in competition with five other division Young Marines of the Year for the title of National Young Marine of the Year which will be announced at the Adult Leaders’ Conference on Saturday, May 11, in San Antonio, Texas.

"I am very proud of the 2018 division winners," said Col William P. Davis USMC (Ret), national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "Each winner radiates qualities of leadership, self-confidence and good citizenship. In addition, each lives a healthy drug free lifestyle which is a cornerstone of the Young Marines. It will be quite a challenge to select just one as the National Young Marine of the Year."

About the Young Marines

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c (3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 270 units with 9,000 youth and 2,600 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.

For more information, visit the website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.