Tyson Henry was only 11 when he decided he wanted to be one of The Few, The Proud.

Like many boys that age, the Gilbert youth was accustomed to playing soldier with friends, but his mother Dawn Henry “thought I should find a program because she didn’t want me to offend the neighbors.”

He looked at ROTC and the Boy Scouts and wasn’t drawn to them.

Then, as only a seventh-grader, the Gilbert teen went to an East Valley Veterans Day Parade in Mesa and saw the Young Marines marching.

He knew where he belonged.

Now, Tyson is one of only two members of the Young Marines nationwide to receive the Jimmy Trimble Scholarship from the American Veterans Center.

The honor will be bestowed during American Valor: A Salute to Our Heroes awards banquet on Oct. 27 at the American Veterans Center in Washington D.C. In spring, he will escort WWII veterans to Guam and Iwo Jima for the Reunion of Honor and the 74th anniversary of the battles there.

His trip to Iwo Jima will be especially memorable: It is only accessible one day a year.

Tyson, 17, will join nine other members of the Young Marines as they travel to the island of Iwo Jima which is accessible only one day a year.

He also will receive $1,000 toward his education at Arizona State University once he graduates in May from Mountain View High School in Mesa.

He plans to major in criminal justice at ASU – and joined the Marine ROTC with an eye toward entering the Marines as an officer.

A member of the East Valley Young Marines, based in Mesa and commanded by Dana Lippincott, Tyson said the organization “has provided me with a pathway for the future.”

“Through the experiences that I have gained through this program, I have had the opportunity to explore various military avenues and career options. I have been able to create a plan for my future.”

His scholarship was awarded partly on the basis of his numerous activities not only at school but also in the Young Marines.

He was Young Marine of the Year for his unit, battalion and regiment. He received the Distinguished Order of Merit, and he is a graduate of the Junior, Senior and Advanced Leadership Academies.

He has participated in the Pearl Harbor commemoration, Navajo Code Talkers Day, National Encampment, the Air and Space Academy, and the presentation of the Fulcrum Shield at the Pentagon. In addition, he attended the Marine Corps Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy.

His scholarship is named after James “Jimmy” Trimble III. Trimble, a star athlete who passed up the opportunity to play professional baseball to first serve his country in the Marines. He died at age 19 on March 1, 1945, on Iwo Jima.

“Jimmy Trimble gave up professional baseball and many other offers to serve his country,” said Bill Davis, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “We are grateful to the American Veterans Center for keeping his spirit alive and for allowing the Young Marines to play a key role in that effort.”

Tyson’s scholarship also was based on the judge’s enthusiastic reaction to his essay – which is part of the award competition.

He wrote about Samuel Tom Holiday, a Navajo Code Talker he had met. Holiday passed away three years ago and Tyson only met him once, but his story left a lasting impact.

He said he was touched by Holiday’s description of the challenges he faced as a Native American and found he related to Holiday’s experiences when it comes to diversity and racial intolerance.

“From his story and the stories of Navajo Code Talkers, I found a new motivation,” Tyson said. “It is from the lessons I have learned from heroes like Mr. Holiday and the Navajo Code Talkers that have taught me not to quit.”

Today, Tyson sees himself as “a leader who is focused on developing synergy and skilled in building successful programs aligned with organizational initiatives.  I am able to apply leadership concepts and theory into contemporary leadership issues in order to stimulate thought and encourage the exchange of ideas.”