Azle teen named 'Young Marine of the Year,' will escort WWII vets to Iwo Jima

Sgt. Maj. William Jenson

The Young Marines, a national youth organization, announced the Division 4 Young Marine of the Year — Sgt. Maj. William Jenson, 16, of Azle. 

He is a member of the Tarrant County Young Marines from Fort Worth, under the command of Dan Hall. Jenson is a sophomore at Excel Academy.

Division 4 includes nine states: Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Over the course of the year, as Young Marine of the Year, Jenson will travel to other units throughout the division to lead, motivate and serve as a role model for other Young Marines.

Jenson will also escort WWII veterans to the annual Reunion of Honor trip to Guam and Iwo Jima in the fall of 2021. The island of Iwo Jima is open only one day each year for this special reunion of Japanese and American veterans.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to better the program and work with new people,” Jenson said. “I have big plans for this year and will do whatever I can to help this division and the Young Marines program as a whole.”

Jenson joined the Young Marines at age 9 and is in his sixth year in the program.

“I joined Young Marines because I wanted a challenge,” he said. “I had tried another group and various sports, but I knew they weren’t allowing me to reach my full potential. I first saw Young Marines participating in a parade and signed up as soon as I got home.”

Jenson was named Regimental Young Marine of the Year, and he received the Drug Enforcement Agency device at age 10. He graduated from Junior Leadership, Senior Leadership and Advanced Leadership, where he was one of the Top 10.

Outside of the Young Marines, he plays guitar for a band and is an avid skateboarder.

After high school, Jenson hopes to join the Marine Corps, and said he later expects to become a security contractor.

“I absolutely think Young Marines will help me achieve these goals,” he said. “This program has taught me so much and being in leadership positions for the program has given me the experience I will need to thrive in the Marine Corps.”

“William Jenson is an extraordinary Young Marine,” said Col William P. Davis USMC (Ret), national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “All our division winners show great qualities of leadership and reverence to veterans. Each lives a healthy drug-free lifestyle which is a foundation of the Young Marines program.”

He is the son of Jon and Vickie Jenson. He has one sister.

The Young Marines organization is divided into six divisions across the United States. Each Division Young Marine of the Year must meet vigorous requirements such as graduating from Advanced Leadership School at the Young Marines’ National Leadership Academy, maintaining high academic achievement in school, and maintaining high standards of physical fitness.

In the spring, Jenson will represent his division in competition with five other division winners for the title of National Young Marine of the Year.

About the Young Marines

The Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age 8 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 235 units with 8,000 youth and 2,500 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Japan, and affiliates in a host of other countries.

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