Mountain Warfare Training Center Dedicates Classroom To Fallen Marine
(March 8, 2010)
|Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport,
Calif. (MCN - 3/5/2010) — A very special Marine is gone but
not forgotten. This was the message Marines and sailors made
clear to his family and friends at the dedication ceremony
of the Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks Mountain Leaders Classroom at
the multi-purpose building here Tuesday.|
|Friends and family members of Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks pose for a photograph inside the newly-dedicated Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks Mountain Leaders Classroom after a ceremony at the multi-purpose building here Feb. 22. Bocks, a 28-year-old former Mountain Leaders Course instructor stationed here, was killed during combat operations Nov. 9, 2007. Those who knew Bocks described him as a dedicated Marine and loyal friend.
Bocks, a 28-year-old former Mountain Leaders Course instructor stationed here,
was killed during combat operations Nov. 9, 2007. His platoon was hit with
direct fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from multiple
positions during an enemy ambush while returning from a meeting with village
elders in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province, according to the official casualty
A Michigan native and Truckee, Nev., resident, Bocks moved with his family to
Nevada when he was in the seventh grade. He attended Truckee schools until the
11th grade, then returned to Michigan where he graduated high school.
Long-time friend and neighbor, Gary R. Schroeder, knew Bocks for 17 years. He
said he remembers Bocks as both the young boy who was looking for direction in
life and as the man who later found it in the Corps. The transformation was
evident, said Schroeder. “He took to the Marine Corps like a water dog to the
river. The Marine Corps was very good for him.”
Just how good is evident by the plaque that now hangs over the doorway of the
room where Bocks spent so much time, first as a student, then as an instructor.
It reads: “As a Mountain Leader, Pack Master, and Embedded Training Team
Advisor, Sgt. Bocks epitomized the ethos and dedication of a Mountain Warrior.”
Bocks' journey to MWTC began when he enlisted in the Marine Corps May 9, 2000.
That same year, he graduated from basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot,
Parris Island, S.C. He then reported to the School of Infantry East at Camp
Lejeune, N.C., where he graduated and became a Marine Corps rifleman. He later
served with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division,
in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where he deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch
from Sept. 1, 2001 to Feb. 3, 2002. Sgt. Bocks then deployed to Afghanistan in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom from May 5 to Aug. 15, 2003, according to
his service record book.
He arrived at MWTC in 2004, where he completed the Summer Mountain Leaders
Course and the Winter Mountain Leaders Course, before becoming a Mountain Leader
and an instructor.
“I just think the classroom dedication is such an honor,” said Kent A. Bocks,
his father, after the ceremony. “In coming here to the Mountain Warfare Training
Center, he fell into the most perfect situation a Marine could ever want to
have. He loved it here. He loved the outdoors. He was a hiker, he was a skier
and loved everything to do with snow,” said Mr. Bocks.
“He loved animals. He loved dogs, cats, and was just wonderful with them.“
So it was no surprise to Mr. Bocks when his son volunteered to train to become a
“Mule Pack Master,” who teaches Marine Corps units alternative methods for
transporting crew served weapons, ammunition, supplies and wounded personnel to
and from rugged and inaccessible areas using mules.
“All the things he could ever want in life, he had here. He was as happy as I've
ever seen him. The friends that he had here were just the best friends a young
man could ever ask for.”
But it wasn't perfect for Bocks. Friends said he yearned to return to
Afghanistan to practice what he was teaching and make a difference in the war.
This was the type of Marine Bocks was, said Gunnery Sgt. Charles M. Evers, a
good friend from 3rd Platoon, Company B, Anti-terrorism Battalion, Reno, Nev.
“It's a well-deserved recognition that couldn't bear a better name. I know he
loved this place and I know he loved what he did up here,” said Evers, who first
met Bocks when Evers was as an an instructor and he was a student at the Summer
Mountain Leaders Course in 2004. “After he became an instructor, we became good
friends and worked and played together for about a year and a half.”
Evers remembers Bocks as a Marine who always had a smile on his face and never
let anything get him down. “He was a clown, a good clown, and someone who was
always there for you no matter what. He was a good man, just a good dude
In a solemn speech outside Bocks' classroom, Col. Norm Cooling, commanding
officer of MWTC, expressed the gratitude Marines and the nation feel for Bocks'
“The ultimate sacrifice, in my mind, quite honestly, was not made by Sgt. Bocks.
It's made by you, his family members and those who knew, worked with and
remember him,” said Cooling. “You will always have that piece missing in your
lives...his service, his love for you.”
Cooling told family members and those present what most Marines believe: Bocks
is now serving in a better place. Then he paraphrased the closing stanza from
the Marine's Hymn, “If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes; They
will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.”
In his short life, Sgt. Bocks contributed more to his fellow man, fellow
comrades-at-arms, and to the units he served in, said Cooling. “He touched more
people in more ways than many of us could in a lifetime,” he said. “The evidence
of that is why we are all here today.”
Article and photo by USMC GSgt. Sergio Jimenez
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms
Marine Corps News
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