On January 23, 2018, the City Council of the City of San Diego issued a proclamation to and for YM/MSgt Sophia M. Righthouse, declaring the date to be Sophia M. Righthouse Day in the City of San Diego. The proclamation was presented by Councilmember Chris Cate during the city council meeting. Young Marines Division 6 Commanding Officer Wilson Lee was present, as were dignitaries from the Poway School District, Girl Scouts USA, and San Diego Police Department.

YM/MSgt Righthouse received the honor for her heroism and bravery and for her numerous accolades and achievements in the Young Marines, NJROTC, and Girl Scouts USA.

On November 4, 2017, YM/MSgt Righthouse, dressed in her Service C uniform, was en route to stand a Battalion Young Marine of the Year Board when she recognized the signs of a structure fire, took action, and personally assisted with the evacuation of a condominium complex in Rancho Pensaquitos. YM/MSgt Righthouse conducted the evacuations at risk to her own life and safety in a calm, professional manner that she attributes to her training with the Young Marines.

Councilmember Chris Cate said, “I think it’s something that really is true bravery. For someone her age to have those instincts and to recall the training she received is something that not only kids her age but also adults need to take notice of.”

In the Young Marines, her accolades include earning Honor Graduate during Recruit Training; Junior Leadership School and Senior Leadership School; and Young Marine of the Year at the unit, battalion, and regimental levels. Also, she completed more than 600 community service hours; scored her 11th Perfect Physical Fitness Award; and founded the Valuing Our Veterans flagpole program, where she gathers funding to purchase 20-foot flagpoles for local military veterans in recognition of their service. The flagpoles are installed by Young Marines and are presented to the veterans with a Color Guard ceremony.

In Naval JROTC at Westview High School, where she is a 4.0 student, she serves the community as a cadet seaman. She earned the title of Honor Cadet in Basic Leadership Training and has been awarded a Certificate of Merit and the Meritorious Achievement Ribbon, the highest honor that is bestowed on a member of JROTC.

She is First Squad Leader and a member of the Field Meet Team, competing in physical fitness, academics, color guard, and unarmed drill. In Girl Scouts USA, she serves her community as a Senior Girl Scout and has earned the prestigious Bronze and Silver Awards.

Leadership Training


Although I have been to Navajo Code Talker Day for the last 4 years, every single time I return, I learn precious lessons that I would never be able to experience anywhere else. National trips, such as Navajo Code Talker Day, allow Young Marines to grow out of their comfort zone, meet other Young Marines from around the country, and undergo a once-in-a-lifetime trip that can never be replicated. Navajo Code Talker Day is so breathtaking that the only way to feel the impact that the Code Talkers, their families, and the Navajo people have on the Young Marines is to experience it in person.

The Navajo served as Code Talkers in World War II and played a vital part in the United States capturing several crucial islands and, in the long run, winning the war. They produced a code from their native language that no one could break! When the war ended, and the Code Talkers returned home to their families, their secret language and their role in the war had to be a part of the past, because they were not allowed to share their encounters. After several decades, the Navajo Code Talkers were finally allowed to share their stories, for the benefit of past and future generations, and they were awarded for their bravery! In my opinion, every single part of the Navajo Code Talker Day trip was a blast—from the 10-hour car ride there; to attending the event and celebrations in Window Rock, Arizona; to another 10-hour drive back to San Diego!

This year, my unit invited 12 Miramar Young Marines; 2 Temecula Valley Young Marines from California; and even one New River Young Marine from North Carolina, who is a former Miramar Young Marine. The road trip to and from Window Rock is always exciting. We stop at hotels; swim in pools; and visit interesting shops and restaurants, such as Bass Pro Shops, Cracker Barrel, and Famous Dave’s. The car rides are long, but we always find fun games or music to play.

Arriving at Window Rock is one of the best feelings in the world! Seeing that huge window in the background is an awesome sight. I love attending Navajo Code Talker Day because you learn so many valuable life lessons from the Navajo and the senior Young Marines. You also meet and make so many new friends that you can keep a connection with throughout your life! You might even be able to see them at other Young Marines events. At national, division, regimental, and even battalion events, I think the most important role that you should always try and achieve is earning a billet! Especially at national events, you should never miss an opportunity to apply for a billet. Even though a billet may sound intimidating, it allows you to attend and view the trip from a different perspective—one that shows you all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been put into the event to make it happen. There are countless billets at different events—ranging from Young Marines Sergeant Major and 1st Sergeant; to Scribe and Special Guest Escort; to Photographers, Public Relations, and Account; and even to Hotel/Room Coordinators. There are tons of different billets that fit and match the needs of every event and every person. Apply for more than one or apply for every competitive billet. You never know what awesome experience may await you unless you try! I love attending Young Marines events!

Community Service


Hurricane Florence, a violent category-2 hurricane, hit the coast of North Carolina just south of Swansboro, where our unit is located.

We had record-breaking flooding that threatened our nearby communities, but most of the damage in our area came from strong (137 mph) winds. The destructive winds sent debris everywhere, blocking many major roads and key points of access. The winds and debris also ripped apart many homes and businesses. Hurricane Florence remained stationary in our area for 2 days; and within the week, it had covered our entire state in devastating storms. Thousands of people in our area were trapped by flood waters and downed trees, and they were without water, electricity, or even food. Sadly, many people even lost their homes.

After the storm, my family and I couldn’t make it back to our home for 5 days, but when we did, we immediately got to work. On the first day back, we helped rake leaves and sticks out of our neighbors’ yards, and we began to clean debris off of several homes. Also, a tree had fallen on an elderly neighbor’s house, so we cut off the tree and hauled branches and logs to the curb. But helping people didn’t stop there.

One of the places that Hurricane Florence damaged was our local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Hall. Cleaning up the VFW was a crucial thing to do. Not only is it a meeting place for retired military in our community, but also, it’s where the Swansboro Young Marines holds drill meetings. Our VFW had downed trees on the property, broken branches that littered the lot, and large amounts of fallen leaves that made the grounds unsightly. Within days of the storm ending, many of our Young Marines and staff joined up to help with cleanup. With teamwork and determination, our unit was able to get our VFW grounds looking good again, and the VFW members were grateful that Young Marines stepped in to help.

Our Young Marines also helped serve meals with our local fire department after the storm. Our fire department passed out free hot meals to people in need. They were always in need of volunteers, and one of our staff members reached out to them and sent some of our Young Marines (including me) to help distribute meals. We returned to the fire station day after day to distribute meals to the needy. Some days, we handed out so many meals that we ran out before the next shipment of hot meals came in. Our unit’s volunteer work made a big, positive impact on our community.

Community service is one thing that we all need to do regularly. An easy way to achieve this is by being active in your community by volunteering at schools, nursing homes, churches, or other organizations. We don’t have to wait for a natural disaster or a desperate need for volunteers before we do our part in our community. We can start donating time now, even within our own neighborhoods. By getting out there and doing good deeds in our towns, we are showing others not only what it means to be a Young Marine but also how Young Marines actively support their community.

Leadership Training
Community Service


Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) is very important to all Young Marines units. Not only is it important but it requires that a Young Marine complete four presentations. My DDR is specifically about gateway drugs (marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol). I’m also working on another DDR presentation covering the dangers of inhalants (abusing them is referred to as huffing). I am writing this article for a number of reasons. First, my unit commander, Chris Chinchilla, along with my parents, encouraged me to write; and, second, I wanted to give other Young Marines encouragement. I want you to know that this is a very important and positive thing we are doing, and we need to spread the word about “doing the right thing.”

My gateway-drug presentation took place at my school, with 27 of my peers. I was confident because I was before a small group of people I was familiar with. Before the presentation, I was still very nervous and kept thinking about things such as not being able to answer their questions or being made fun of. Well, none of that happened!

So, at my second presentation, I arranged to speak about DDR to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Mission Division Cadets. Their ages ranged from 14 to 18 years, and there were 67 present. I was really nervous all over again. My thoughts were, “I’m only 9 years old; and all these big kids, who are police cadets, are probably wondering, “What can he teach us?” But I knew there was no backing out, and I had a mission to accomplish. I just went on with what I knew, and it actually became really easy after the first two minutes.

When the time came to take questions, I was able to answer the one question someone asked. I felt very proud after that. Everyone was so nice, and they thanked me for bringing the educational awareness to them. A little about myself: I’m in the 4th grade, and I have two more presentations scheduled that will be completed before my 10th birthday on March 27, 2018.

I’m autistic and have ADHD. I know that this diagnosis is a part of who I am and can complicate the way I do things, but I do them to the best of my ability—and that’s all anyone can ask of you. I follow the Young Marines Obligation and Creed to its fullest and work to set an example for others to follow.

I hope that my presentations will keep kids from using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and, in turn, will inspire them to do their best. “Thank you” to my fellow Quartz Hill Young Marines for making a difference in our communities.

Drug Demand Reduction


The Deputy Directors Mr. Lee and Mr. Lusignan decided to offer a new SPACES event. This summer they piloted a Drug Demand Reduction and Law Enforcement SPACES event. They invited 12 Young Marines, 2 from each division to participate in this premier event. They chose Young Marines who were Project Alert certified, had earned their Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) device, and who received a recommendation from their Division Commander. We arrived in Washington D.C. in early August for a week of learning and training. It was planned and run by Mr. Lee and Mr. Lusignan with the help of Miss Lonergan and Mrs. Nakano.

The first night we spent getting to know each other and preparing for the up- coming week. Throughout the week, we visited the DEA training facility as well as the DEA museum. At both the DEA training facility and museum, we had the opportunity to talk with DEA agents about what is involved in being an agent as well as have a Q&A with them. When we were at the training facility, we were able to watch a video about what happens during training and have presentations by DEA agents. We toured the DEA Academy training lab and two instructors walked us through how they test certain things to make the agents job easier in the field. Our whole group participated in National Night Out in Dumfries, VA near National Headquarters. During National Night Out we were able to talk to kids about Young Marines, hand out bracelets, and drug pamphlets. We also were able to talk to Dumfries Police Officers about their jobs. A couple of days later, they came to give us a class as well as bring their narcotics K-9 unit over to do a demonstration for us.

We were able to go to Quantico for a ride along with the Military police as well as visit a training facility and do a shoot or no shoot training simulation. Throughout the week, we had classes taught by all the staff. We learned about crime prevention strategies, situational awareness and how to not be oblivious to the world around us, how drugs effect our brains. Discussion was held on the many career opportunities within law enforcement and we were also able to help develop new Drug Demand Re- duction (DDR) courses. While we were there, we also took a trip to High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in Maryland to learn about the problems drug facing the communities across the region and was provided insight how HIDTA is structured across the country. And of course, no trip to Washington D.C. would be complete with a trip to the Museum of the Marine Corps.

Overall, it was an incredible week where we learned about how to be safe, live drug free and what our law enforcement officers do for all of us. It was time for challenging our beliefs and experiences. We all left with so much knowledge to pass on not only to our Young Marines but to our communities. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am beyond thankful I was able to attend.

Drug Demand Reduction


The Young Marines National Foundation
PO Box 530543
St. Petersburg, FL 33747

Email: giving@ymfoundation.org


Sign up to receive updates from the Foundation.