Camp Lejeune – A teenager from the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune has received a Jimmy Trimble Scholarship from the U.S. Veterans Center and will accompany World War II veterans to Guam and Iwo Jima next spring for an honor reunion, the 77th anniversary of battles at those locations.
Young Marines, Master Sgt. Gunnery. Eric Fong, a 17-year-old student at Lejeune High School at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, attended the 24th Annual Conference of the American Veterans Center Saturday in Washington, D.C., to receive his honor. As part of the prestigious award, he will join nine other members of the Young Marines as they travel to Iwo Jima Island, which is only accessible one day a year.
Eric joined the Young Marines in 2015 when he was 11 years old, according to a statement.
“The best part of being a young Marine,” he said, “is being able to meet and have experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise.” Some of these experiences include attending the National Flight Academy, attending an adventure sailing school, and completing a service project in Hawaii. I was able to meet young Marines, adult volunteers, and veterans who mentored and motivated me. I also had opportunities to volunteer and support our military communities, so they never feel forgotten.”
The Jimmy Trimble Scholarship is awarded annually to two young Marines who exemplify the qualities of James Trimble III, a star athlete who missed the opportunity to play professional baseball for first service in the Marine Corps. He died at the age of 19 on March 1, 1945, at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“Jimmy Trimble has given up professional baseball and despite many other offers, he has remained focused on serving his country and staying in the fight,” said retired Marine Col. William Davis, National Executive and CEO of Young Marines. “We are grateful to the American Veterans Center for keeping its spirit alive and for allowing young Marines to play a key role in this effort.”
Eric was an honorary graduate of enlistment training, both in Senior and Junior Command School, awarded the 2020 Pyramid Rock Unit Young Marine of the Year and was the first California Youth Marine Regiment for the 2020-21 year.
Outside of the Young Marines, Eric maintains a 4.0 weighted GPA and is a member of his high school football team. His goal is to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa and study sports medicine or kinesiology, the statement said.
“Being selected for the Jimmy Trimble Scholarship means that someone believes I can properly honor his legacy,” he said. “Being able to accompany the veterans to Guam and Iwo Jima is a huge deal, and I will have the opportunity to pay my respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
After graduating from college, Eric would like to work closely with athletes and other sports-minded individuals so that they can develop their skills in a way that prevents them from getting injured. He also likes to work with injured athletes so they can stay motivated, which will ultimately help speed up their recovery.
Eric is the son of Quinn and Laurie Fong. Quinn Fong is a 4th active-duty officer in the Marine Corps and to date, he has served for 23 years. Eric has a sister, Emily Fong.
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