By Pamela Jackson
“I couldn’t let him drown because they (leaders of the young Marines program) have instilled values in me,” said an Albany Young Marine after he received a Life Saving Award here, Friday.
Nick Leggett, a 16-year-old Lee County High School student saved another teen’s life in a Charlotte, N.C., hotel swimming pool on Aug. 7.
Leggett, one of several young Marines attending a Division III Unit Management Course in Charlotte, said he never thought all of this recognition would happen for doing something that came naturally to him.
“We were swimming in the pool at the hotel when another boy started to kick, struggle and panic in the deep end,” Leggett said. “His mother couldn’t do anything and it just came to me to save him.”
For his quick actions, Maj. Gen. James Kessler, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany, presented him with the National Life Saving Award. After presenting the award Kessler addressed the crowd and spoke of how presenting the award to Leggett was a great privilege, especially since his brother (retired Marine Mike Kessler) signed the citation. Mike Kessler is the national executive director of the Young Marines program.
Leggett, a five-year Young Marine participant, said he wasn’t even going to tell his mother about the incident after it happened, but later decided to mention it.
“It was just something I felt I had to do,” he said. “Getting this award is a great honor for me. I want to stay with the Marine Corps and plan to join after graduation from high school.”
According to the Young Marines’ Web site, www.youngmarines.com, the program focuses on character building, leadership and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Web site reads: Young Marine units are community-based programs led by adult volunteers. Many of these volunteers are former, retired, active duty or reserve Marines who believe the values they learned as Marines had a positive affect on them. It is through these adults that Young Marines learn the inner values of honor, courage and commitment.
“We work with youth to help them become leaders, make better choices and stay away from drugs,” said retired Master Sgt. Nathaniel Lowman, commanding officer, Albany Young Marines.
“The faculty and members of the Young Marines of Albany are very proud of Leggett,” added Randolph Scott, the program’s 2nd Battalion executive officer. “He used his leadership training provided by the program to take charge of a situation where he observed someone needing help to prevent a drowning. He quickly accessed the situation and took the appropriate action.”
Scott said Leggett applied the life saving skills that he learned in the mandatory cardiopulmonary resuscitation class taught to Young Marines.
The Albany, Ga.-based program started in 1997 and since inception, has graduated more than 1,000 Young Marines.
In the past 52 years, the national program has evolved into a premier youth education program for boys and girls, age 8 through the completion of high school. The program promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members.
To learn more about the Young Marines program, call 639-5285.
PHOTO BY JASON M. WEBB/MCLB ALBANY
Young Marine Sgt. Nick Leggett is congratulated by Maj. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, after receiving a Life Saving Award during a special ceremony at Schmid Field in front of Building 3500 here, Friday, while Sgt. Maj. Stephen Balczo, sergeant major, LOGCOM, looks on.