Covington native Tyler Crook stands proud as a man who believes in sacrificing for others. The 21-year-old Marine will serve as a Towed Artillery Systems Technician and lead as a gunner for convoy security operations for his upcoming deployment before the end of the year.
Crook said he has wanted to be a member of the United States Marine Corps since he was a young boy. He said he has an uncle and a grandfather who were both in the Marine Corps, a cousin who was in the Army, and his other grandfather was a commander in the Navy.
With an extensive amount of military roots and background, Crook said he knew he wanted to join one of the armed forces. He said chose to be a Marine because he liked challenges. Crook is facing a challenge as he serves as a lead gunner searching for roadside bombers.
"It's just kind of grown on me honestly," Crook said. "It's better than any fraternity that you can be in a college, with more of a brotherhood and it's just something I like to do. I don't really see myself doing anything else now. I'm just doing the job so that they don't have to."
Crook has been in the USMC for three years. He said he has shot artillery with his unit in Korea and in Japan during those years and that he enjoys being on the front line because it makes him feel more useful and that he is highly trained.
"I know what I am doing and I am great with a machine gun and I know I can watch out for the guys who are there either covering trucks or on-loading and off-loading," Crook said.
Besides sacrificing for the U.S. and his military colleagues, Crook said he has made sacrifices for his family. Though he went to high school in Newton County, Crook made the decision to attend military school in Gainesville for his junior year.
After attending military school, he went back to high school his senior year and lived with his grandfather. While completing his senior year of high school, he took care of his ill grandfather.
"It was a sacrifice, but I enjoyed it and it was worth it," Crook said. "He passed away a year later when I was finishing boot camp."
Presently, Crook said the hardest sacrifice is leaving his family and friends behind.
He said his mother and his family supports him 100 percent, but that it was tough for his mom to see her son go to Afghanistan. He added that his mom was proud of him for wanting to serve others.
Crook said he loves to come back home to Covington. He said when he is here he enjoys fishing, hunting and catching up with old friends. He added that he also loves to eat and said his mother jokes with him saying she can't keep food cooked fast enough for him to eat.
"Most of my friends are off at college and when they come back here, we have to try and catch each other whenever we are home, which isn't very often, at least for me," he said.
He added that he is juggling with the idea of either going to college to study a major along the lines of criminal justice or either reenlisting in the Marines for another five years. But right now, he is focusing on his deployment.
"I'm looking forward to this deployment. I'm with a good group of guys and I'm pretty confident in our mission and I think we will do some good things over there and hopefully bring everybody back. That's our main goal."
The News is not including family names or background information about Crook due to recent attempts by terrorists to target U.S. military families.