The origins of the Marine Cadets of Massachusetts go back to when the USS Massachusetts had only been in Fall River for a few years. In 1977 a charter was given from the Young Marines of the Marine Corps League establishing the first Marine Cadet unit to be headquartered aboard a naval vessel.
In 1984 the Commanding Officer was Mr. Narciso. The unit met on Saturday mornings. Cadets were taught about the Marine Corps and often assisted the USS Massachusetts overnight staff coordinate Boy Scout Overnighters aboard the ship. Cadets enjoyed participating in field training (training in the woods) with Mr. Narciso. Field training was were Cadets were taught patrol procedures, daytime movement, night time movement, and how other military tactics US Marines were taught. Eventually the unit adopted the former Camp Smith as the units training area. Camp Smith was eventually turned into a private residential area. During this year three Cadets became US Marines, they were Joseph Baker, Jeffrey Lake and Tony Lesser. Baker was Honorably Discharged and attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. and is currently a Trooper with the Massachusetts State Police.
In 1985 a new Commanding Officer, Mr. Christensen joined the unit. He was a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer who had served with Marines in Vietnam as a Corpsman. While under his command Cadets began more intense field training and began extending field training hours. At this time we were still known as the Young Marines or as Cadets called it, the "Fleet Young Marines".
In 1986 Major Christensen, departed the Young Marines and Mr. Maurice Francoeur of the New England Jr. Navy Cadets commanded the Young Marines. Not long after relinquishing command Mr. Francoeur transferred to the New England Jr. Marine Cadets. At the time of his transfer Mr. Francoeur received the rank of Cadet Major. At this time another Cadet Officer, Cadet Lieutenant Devlin. During this time the Cadet organization grew in size to over 30 Cadets. The unit became known as the U.M.F. Marine Cadets. During this period Cadets trained mostly in the field. The standard was a minimum of one day in the field per month and a bivouac (night in the field) at least once every 6 weeks. The Cadets at that time also began getting involved in more honor guards and local parades. The most popular event the Cadets were involved in was the Fall River Celebrates America parade and festivities events. At that time two Marines served as instructors and trained Cadets to serve in Color Guards. The instructors were SSgt. Smith, who was the local Marine recruiter at the time, and Sgt. Banks, who retired as a Master Sergeant from the US Marines in 2002. These instructors taught Cadets better field skills and more effective methods of movement. During this time Cadets were afforded the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., 8th & I Barracks (Headquarters Marine Corps) and several other historical sights in our nations capital.
In 1988 the Cadets performed the opening and closing ceremonies in the first ever Worcester Franco-American Day. Because of their steadfast performance and positive representation of the Marine Corps uniform Cadets were increasingly getting mistaken for US Marines. During this year another Cadet would go on to join the US Marine Corps. His name was James Smith who later attained the rank of Corporal and became a member of the Marine Security Guard Battalion (MSG). MSG's are Marines who guard our nation’s embassies and consulates around the world and the dignitaries that serve in them. Cpl. Smith was assigned to the US Embassy, Beijing, China. Only the top ten percent of all MSG members receive orders to a Communist Block country. Cpl. Smith was Honorably Discharged and is now a police officer in the City of Fall River.
This year was the first year Cadets from the USS Massachusetts began an annual exchange with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps in Canada. The very first exchange was with RCSCC Trafalgar from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Since then Cadets have been visiting Canada every year thereafter for a period of 4 - 5 days for training.
1989 brought more ceremonies to the Marine Cadets and during this year two more cadets joined the United States Marine Corps. Those Cadets were Richard Moore and Andrew Conway. Both served in the Persian Gulf War during their time in the US Marine Corps. Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Moore eventually retired and was also a member of the MSG Battalion. While there he was assigned as a member of the Detachment that provides security to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Cpl. Conway continued his career in the Marines and was Honorably Discharged.
In 1990 Cadets began a new tradition with the exchange to Canada. It was the first year they participated in the summer camp at NCSM Quebec, located at St. Angel-De-Laval near the city of Trios Riviers (Three Rivers), Quebec, Canada. During this year yet another Cadet joined the Marine Corps. David St. Laurent. St. Laurent would attain the rank of Lance Corporal (LCpl) and was assigned to MAG-32 working with the Harrier jump jet. After being Medically Discharged from the Marine Corps LCpl. St. Laurent became an instructor with the Cadets and is currently a Police Officer in the City of Fall River.
During 1991 and 1992 while former Cadets served around the world, another cadet joined the Marine Corps. Peter Levesque entered the Marine Corps and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt). While on active duty SSgt. Levesque was sent to Somalia as part of the Marine contingent of the United Nations peace keeping force. Two more cadets, William Greaves and, Jason Martinez left our ranks and became members of the U.S. Army. Corporal Martinez served as a Bradley Vehicle Crewman in the Republic of Korea.
In 1993 the unit was still known as the New England Jr. Marine Corps. This same year Jose Barboza also would go on to join the US Marine Corps. During his time in the Marine Corps, he earned the rank of Corporal and was assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Cpl. Barboza was Honorably Discharged and served as an instructor with the Marine Cadets. Cpl Barboza is now a Police Officer in the City of Fall River.
During 1994-1997 several more Cadets joined the growing ranks of Cadets and became US Marines. They were Rob Torres, Anthony DeCosta, Todd Rogers, Karl Daponte and John Sirois. Torres, who became a Corporal was a member of the Intelligence field. Sirois was a part of the Marine Corps Color Guard, which represents the Corps during its Battle Color Ceremony and Friday Evening Parades at 8th & I Barracks.
As of 1997 the unit once again changed the name to the Marine Cadets of Battleship Cove and new charter established. The Marine Cadets of Battleship Cove was finally formed completely independent from all other organizations and Battleship Cove served as the Headquarters. During this time the organization has seen tremendous growth as our ranks swelled to almost 60 Cadets in the latter half of 1998. In addition the amount of ceremonies, parade and functions continued to grow and became the units # 1 way to serve the community. The most prestigious event is providing the Color Guard and security for the 4th of July fireworks for the City of Fall River on the USS Massachusetts.
At the turn of the millennium several more Cadets became United States Marines. In 2000 and shortly after, Frank Andrade, Brendan Burke, Jared Donahue, Timothy Giasson, Mike Viveiros, Mike Cabral, and Todd Rapoza all became Marines within months of each other. Sergeant Andrade and Corporal Donahue, both were selected as Honor Graduates of their recruit training class. Sgt Andrade and SSgt Rapoza served as Embassy Guards with the MSG Battalion. SSgt Burke was an armorer assigned to oversee the Marine Armory at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia; Cpl Donahue was a member of Marine Barracks 8th and I. The entire generation would go on to became Combat Veterans of the Iraqi War.
In 2003-2004 more Cadets took up the challenge of becoming United States Marines. Joseph DaChaves (USMC), Brian Fish, Troy Laferria (USA), Sean Donovan, Ryan Cabral (USA) and Matthew Martowska (USMC). Officer Candidate Martowska will be our first Marine officer from our ranks. Additionally Laferria and Sean Donovan joined the National Guard feeling service to their state in the tradition of the Minutemen of the Revolution. Most recently Cadets Zolton Laczy, Brandon Leonardo and Joshua Pagan would enlist into the US Marine Corps delayed entry program awaiting their departure for Boot Camp. In the closing months of 2004 Cadet Lt Col Francoeur stepped down as Commanding Officer after 22 years of serving the organization and named Cadet Captain David St. Laurent as his successor.
During 2004-2007 many changes occurred. Marine Cadets have begun regular appearances in both the Bristol 4th of July Parade (our nation's oldest parade), the Hartford (CT) Veteran's Parade and have time and again traveled to Canada. More importantly they have begun regular weekend training (March-November) aboard Camp Edwards MMR. The Marine Cadets have been exposed to every imaginable training scenario using vehicles and equipment that real life Marines and Soldiers train with.
In 2007 several former Cadets returned as instructors. Those former Cadets are Cpl Donahue, Sgt Andrade, SSgt Burke, and SSgt Cabral. Cpl Donahue departed as instructor in 2009.
Also in 2007 a retired Gunnery Sergeant, Joseph Benevides, became the new Commanding Officer briefly before relinquishing his command to Cadet Lt Col Nelson Soares. Cadet Lt Col Soares served as Commanding Officer for approximately 2 1/2 years.
In June of 2009 Cadet Lt Col Soares left the organization after dedicating 22 years of his life to the organization including his time as a cadet. Cadet Lt Col Soares' departure left the organization's Executive Officer, Sgt Frank Andrade, our current Acting Commanding Officer until a replacement is found.
During the remainder of 2009, realizing times are changing and different measures to ensure the success of the organization are needed, the current staff altered the organizations mission from just a military aspect to a more community oriented mission focused at getting youth off the streets and on the right track in life. The staff began for the first time hiring outside help. An accountant / Lawyer and his expertise were utilized in order to change the name of the organization signifying a new beginning in 2010. The new name is the Marine Cadets of Massachusetts. The staff also revamped the organizations structure, method of accomplishing goals, concepts, updated policies and procedures, established a new training plan, developed new recruiting methods, etc... all to better accomplish the organizations mission. The staff recruited six Board of Directors to oversee the organizations fundraising and overall operations. staff also aggressively recruited for additional adult volunteers. Once the unit has met the goal of 5 - 10 instructors on the roster the recruitment of additional Cadets will take precedence. Our goal is to have upwards of 120 cadets, Staff, and Instructors one day.
In late November 2010 Sgt Andrade accepted the duties as perminent Commanding Officer and President of the organization. SSgt Cabral remains the Treasurer and Air National Guardsman SrA Matthew Carroll was assigned the role of Adjutant and Chief of Staff of the organization. A 7th Director to our Board was also added in late 2010. On Monday January 24th 2011, days shy of the one year anniversary of the newly formed organization, the units 501(c)(3) Non Profit Tax Exempt application was finally completed and mailed for review. In March of 2011 we received a letter from the IRS granting the federal tax exemption. This status will open many doors for the organization and only prove to be an important element in our units success.
In February of 2013, a new set of Board of Directors were voted in. Former Cadets Joseph Cabral, Karl Duponte, Derrick Silva, and Joseph Hilchey (recent graduate of Marine Corps Boot Camp) also joined as Cadet Instructors. Executive Officer / Chief of Staff, Matthew Carroll resigned in March of 2013.
As we look ahead in the coming years, the Marine Cadets of Massachusetts look to continue the fine heritage of the last twenty-eight years with Honor, Integrity & Pride and plan to continuously improve our organization to better serve our local communities.
Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)