Alexander Messmer wants to set an example for others that rises above and beyond.
Messmer, 18, who is sergeant major of the Cherry Point Young Marines, was recently named Division Three Young Marine of the Year.
The Early College East student calls the distinction “an incredible honor.”
“At first it was kind of an unbelievable moment, and after that I became extremely grateful for having that position,” said Messmer. “Not everyone can say they’ve been Young Marine of the Year. You can only go up for it once. When you do get named out of the six other Marines that were there, I was really grateful for what they gave me.”
Messmer will represent six Southeastern states in competing against six other regional Young Marines of the Year for the title of National Young Marine at the adult leaders’ conference for Young Marines in June in Washington. Messmer will have to answer questions about his duties and current events.
It’s going to be a big year for Messmer, who will graduate this spring and enroll at N.C. State University in the fall to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.
Also this year, Messmer will join other division Young Marines of the Year for a trip to Hawaii, Guam and Iwo Jima where he will participate in a major documentary on the interaction between the Young Marines and World War II veterans who fought at Iwo Jima. Messmer looks forward to hiking up Mt. Suribachi while he is at the site of one of the most notable battles of the war in the Pacific.
Messmer led a group of Cherry Point Young Marines in physical training, drills, map and compass training, field skills and other classroom training during a meeting last week.
“I want to lead in such a way that people want to follow me, not because they have to but because they want to,” Messmer said.
He likes to set a good example and he likes to see his fellow Young Marines, who range in age from 8 to 18, setting a good example as well.
“Since most people have never heard of the program, you are the representative of the program to that person,” Messmer said. “If you are setting a good example, people are really going to see that that Young Marine over there is really setting a good example for the youth and is really going above and beyond.
“We teach the Young Marines that they are leaders. They are setting an example for all other youth to follow.”
There is a huge emphasis on education in the organization, he said.
“Taking education seriously shows the other youth that are around them that education is important and it’s going to get you a good job,” Messmer said.
Messmer has plans to join the Marine Corps Reserves while in college and wants to be a pilot for the Marine Corps while spending his career maintaining aircraft.
The Young Marines is not an organization geared toward recruiting for the Marine Corps, but Messmer said he would follow that path like others in his family.
“Most of my family is Marine Corps. I’ve been fascinated with it,” Messmer said. “Being in the Young Marines all these years, it has shown that I could really have a bright future with the Marine Corps.”