The Young Marines, a national youth organization, has named its Division 2 “Young Marine of the Year.” YM/Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Paredes, 16, of Stafford County is the top Young Marine in Division 2 which includes Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Over the course of the year, he will travel to other units throughout the division to lead, motivate and serve as a role model.

“I am very honored to be named Division 2 Young Marine of the Year, and I’m glad to be setting an example for the division,” he said. “The program has provided me with vital and necessary skills that I will need for the future. The Young Marines has changed my life for the better.”

Paredes is a member of the Quantico Young Marines, which meets at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He joined the Young Marines at age 11 and is currently in his fourth year in the program.

“Once I joined, I was shown how big this program is and how far it expands beyond my local area,” he said. “Then, I wanted even more to do with this program. To me, it is always important to be part of a team and to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

Paredes received the Advanced Leadership Ribbon with the Gold X, denoting being one of the top 10 graduates. His unit has received the Unit of the Year award on a regiment level for the group’s efforts. In addition, he received multiple community service awards along with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

At Mountain View High School, Paredes is a cadet corporal in the Marine Corps JROTC, where he is a squad leader. The sophomore is the captain of the cyberpatriot team, a member of the rifle team and a member of the drill team with the JROTC. He is also a member of the Technology Student Association and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

After graduation, Paredes plans to attend a university on scholarship through the ROTC program in college along with Marine Corps options.

He hopes to earn a degree in computer engineering with a possible minor in cybersecurity. After college, he’d like to join the Marine Corps.

As Division 2 Young Marine of the Year, Paredes will escort WWII veterans to the annual Reunion of Honor trip to Guam and Iwo Jima in March. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima.

“Nathaniel Paredes is an extraordinary Young Marine,” said retired Marine Col. William P. Davis, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “All our division winners show great qualities of leadership and reverence to veterans. Each lives a healthy, drug-free lifestyle which is a foundation of the Young Marines.”

Paredes is the son of Erin Paredes, unit commander of the Quantico Unit as well as the executive officer of the Old Dominion Regiment.

Paredes will represent his division in competition with five other division winners for the title of National Young Marines of the Year which will be announced at the Adult Leaders’ Conference in May.

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