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From a boy to a man: The journey of a soldier

By NEESEY PAYNE

neesey@southwesttimes.com

He endured 13 weeks of grueling training. One might say he went in as a boy and came out as a man. Pvt. Brandon Cook has not only learned that he has the physical capabilities to be one of “the few and the proud,” but the willpower to succeed at it.

Cook, a 2012 Pulaski County High School graduate, said his decision to become a Marine was pretty easy. Not only was his father a Marine, but he knew the opportunity would allow him to pay for college and travel the world.

Cook explained his transition from civilian to military life was easier than for some. He kind of knew what to expect from his father sharing his experiences as a Marine. He remembers the day he traveled to Paris Island, S.C., for boot camp all too well. The drill instructor gets on the bus and reality sinks in. Cook said he remembers the instructor’s loud, stern voice and scrambling off the bus to plant his feet on yellow footprints designated for the aspiring soldier.

Cook said chow time was how the platoon got through each day.

“Day to day we got up and were looking forward to breakfast chow, and as soon as we finished that, we were looking forward to afternoon chow. That kind of helped us get through day to day. You had to find something like chow time to look forward to, to help motivate you, said Cook.

He explained boot camp teaches a solider the basics of everything. Not only did he participate in physical training every morning, he was also trained in repelling, sparring and Marine martial arts. He participated in swim week and rifle week where he learned shooting positions and techniques.

After three months of training, Cook graduated boot camp. He said the weeks seemed to go by fast, but it was nice to finally see his family.

Looking back on it, Cook said the experience was not only a physical process, but an emotional one, as well.  “You definitely don’t want to go down there to get into shape,” he said. “I learned I could push myself farther than I thought I could.”

Cook recently completed Marine combat training. After enjoying some time with family, he is now at Virginia Beach attending jobs school as an Intelligence Specialist.

Cook’s family resides in Draper. His father is Richard Cook, mother, Kimberly Cook and sister, Brittany Cook.

He said it feels good every time he puts his uniform on knowing that he is standing as one of “the few and the proud” serving his country.

 

 

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