Youngsters milling around American Legion Post #241 in Waynedale in Navy uniforms aren’t on shore leave from an aircraft carrier, they’re proud members of the post’s Sea Cadet Corp.
Youth, from as young as 10 years old, all the way up through high-school graduation, are welcome to join. The children and their families pay $60 to join, plus a $40 administration fee. There is an additional $100 deposit for the teens’ uniforms, but that covers uniform costs throughout their time in the group – even if they outgrow their first duds and need new ones.
The uniforms are almost identical to the ones worn by actual Navy sailors. About the only difference between the two are flashes (patches) on the chest signifying the teens are cadets and not actual Navy members.
As for their activities?
Cadets have taken part in several local events, including marching in our local Waynedale Memorial Day parade and the Veterans’ Day parade in early November. They also are involved in planting small American flags on the graves of local veterans at the Prairie Grove Cemetery here in Waynedale. They’ve worked a booth selling pulled pork and mac-n-cheese to raise money at the local air show. And, they even helped out a local veteran with his yard work and cleaned up litter and trash from Waynedale streets.
“This really gives them a sense of pride,” said Terry Vice, Lieutenant Junior Grade and Commanding Officer of the Summit City Division of the Sea Cadets. “It’s a plan to go and do something, and it will continue to educate them throughout their life.”
The eight cadets currently enrolled in the program take part in two drills per month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
What their time in the group earns them is a spiffy uniform, possible advanced placement if they eventually enter the actual Navy and the chance for multiple college scholarships.
Nationally, the program was established in 1962, and is a youth development program supported by the U.S. Department of the Navy and the Navy League of the United States. The Junior Program, is called the Navy League Cadet Corp, and is for kids ages 11-13. The Senior Program, known as the Naval Sea Cadet Corp, mentors youth from 13 years old all the way through high school graduation.
Vice said while the kids reap many rewards from the program, the Post mentors do, as well.
“If we save one kid,” said Vice, a 52-year-old Navy veteran, “That’s a success.”