CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCT) – A local teen received a national scholarship to escort veterans to Guam and Iwo Jima for a special battle anniversary.
Young Marine Master GySgt Eric Phung, 17, recently made the trip to Washington, D.C. to accept the Jimmy Trimble Scholarship. He will escort those veterans next spring during the Reunion of Honor. Phung will join nine others as they travel overseas.
“It’s important for the youth to kind of get out there and share that. Because once they’re gone, they’re just going to be kind of names in the book. And we won’t get to share the actual experience face to face,” said Phung.
Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for kids 8 to 18. Phung is one of two to receive the Jimmy Trimble scholarship. The other was another Young Marine from California.
Phung explains the scholarship is three parts: the first is extra funds for college, the second is the trip overseas and the last is a trip to D.C. to receive the award.
“Being in D.C. and being around all those veterans and all those people that actually cared about like the United States and their history, and all the veterans, like, I just felt like it, I truly can’t explain it,” Phung said.
The scholarship is presented annually to two Young Marines who exemplify the qualities of the late James Trimble III, a star athlete who passed up the opportunity to play baseball to serve his country in the Marines.
Next year, they will escort WWII veterans for the 77th annual Reunion of Honor, a special reunion of Japanese and American veterans.
“They know that they’re not going to live forever, they just want to go back to see it one more time and kind of just make amends and kind of just make peace with what happened,” said Phung.
Phung explained why he is excited to escort these veterans.
“They’re just names that people might not know about, and you never know what their stories are, and you never know what they’ve done. So being able to go there and know what those names are is. It’s a huge honor,” said Phung.