Young Marine gets award

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

MCLB-ALBANY, Ga.-- A 16-year-old Lee County High School student saved a boy two years his junior from drowning in a pool last month, prompting the Albany military community to recognize him for it.

Young Marine Sgt. Nick Leggett was presented a "Life Saving Award" aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany Friday.

During the first weekend in August, Leggett was one of several participants in a Young Marines program, attending a Division Three Unit Management Course in Charlotte, N.C.

On Aug. 7, Leggett and another member of the program were playing in a hotel pool. Just before 8 p.m., a family came into the pool. It eventually became apparent that the family's 14-year-old boy was having difficulty staying afloat.

As the boy's mother started to panic, Leggett and the other Young Marine dived into the deep end to lend assistance.

"When we were in the pool playing football, we were watching the other family," the 16-year-old recalled. "After a while, the boy drifted into the deep end. When we got him out, we made sure the water was out of his lungs.

"It just came to me (to save him). I couldn't let him drown."

Leggett, who has been a Young Marine for more than two years, said he has benefited tremendously from the program, and that getting the award was a great honor for him.

"They (leaders of the Young Marines program) have instilled values in me," he said. "(Getting the award) is an indescribable feeling."

Maj. Gen. James Kessler, commanding general of Marine Corps Logistics Command, presented the award to Leggett.

"It's a great privilege to be able to do this," Kessler said. "I'm so proud we could do this."

The citation presented to Leggett was signed by Mike Kessler, the national executive director of the Young Marines program, a retired Marine and the commanding general's brother.

The Young Marines program is a youth education and service program for children, starting from age 8 and going through the completion of high school, that focuses on positive character building.

"We work with youth in the area to help them stay away from drugs and become leaders," said retired Master Sgt. Nathaniel Lowman, head of the Albany program. "It's to help them make better choices in life."

Lowman stressed that enrolling in the program does not obligate a student to join the Marine Corps, although many of its participants opt to enlist, as Leggett said he may do one day.

"I want to stay in the Marine Corps," the Lee County High School student said.

Since the Albany chapter was established in 1997, more than 1,000 area students have graduated from the program.

The chapter's head seemed proud of Leggett for what he did.

"This is an honor, and many Marines are following in his footsteps," the retired master sergeant said.

There are 35 students currently in the program from Terrell, Mitchell, Lee, Worth and Dougherty counties. For more information on the program, visit www.youngmarines.com.