Meridian teen Oriana Puaauli named Division 6 Young Marine of the Year

BOISE, Idaho – The Young Marines, a national youth organization, announced the Division 6 Young Marine of the Year: YM/Sergeant Major Oriana Puaauli, a junior at Meridian High School and a member of the Captain Art Jackson Young Marines in Nampa.

The organization is divided into six divisions in the United States. Each division sends its chosen Young Marine of the Year to compete for the title of National Young Marine of the Year, the highest honor bestowed by the organization.

Each candidate must meet strict leadership, academic, and physical fitness requirements.

Puaauli has been a member of the Young Marines since she was 8 years old. Her accomplishments since joining include being named Unit Young Marine of the Year twice, placing fifth at the Advanced Leadership School, and receiving the First Sergeant Ribbon for Division 6.

At Meridian High School, Puaauli has a 4.0 GPA, is president of her junior class, captain of the school rugby team, serves on the student council, and is the athletic coach of her school athletic teams.

Puaauli will represent Division 6, comprised of Young Marines from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The honor includes trips to other units in the division to lead, motivate and serve as an example.

“A proven leader, Puaauli is a model Young Marine,” said Col William P. Davis USMC (Ret), national executive director and CEO of Young Marines. “Your young Navy and academic achievements are outstanding. At the young age of 17, she has already received numerous awards from her division. Like each of our six division winners, Puaauli displays great leadership and demonstrates a genuine reverence for veterans. A foundation of the Young Marines program, each of these division winners practices a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

Puaauli says she is grateful for the program and grateful for the camaraderie and friendships.

“Young Marines made me who I am. The program goes much deeper than it looks on the surface — the relationships and friendships, the self-reflection that takes place, and the overall improvement in discipline and leadership within me,” Puaauli said. “The Young Marines joined me at such a young age and helped me choose the right friends. The program has allowed me to travel and make friends from all corners of the country. These friendships are very important to me. With the trips come unique learning experiences. What have the Young Marines done for me? The answer is – everything.”

Puaauli is the daughter of Katie and Puletele Puaauli. And like her father, she plans to enlist in the US Air Force with the ultimate goal of becoming a combat medic or medical evacuation nurse.

The National Young Marine of the Year election is scheduled to take place during a retreat in Virginia April 18-22.

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