Marine achieves childhood dream

Marine achieves childhood dream

Pvt Mark C. Cook, Platoon 2121, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, provides security for his squad during the Crucible at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Photo by Cpl Pedro Cardenas.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Oct. 25, 2013) - Pvt Mark C. Cook, Platoon 2121, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, left home for recruit training wishing to go back for his stepfather who is fighting against cancer to see him wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

From childhood, Cook dreamed of wearing the Marine uniform. Inspired by his ailing stepfather, himself a Marine, earning the title became a personal goal and a way to show gratitude. Cook grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. with his mother.

As a child, Cook wanted to enlist and become an airman because his grandfather served in the Air Force. At the age of six, the self-described grandpa's boy completed a homework project about the four branches of the military. During his presentation, the Marines dress blue uniform stood out to him.

"I remember telling myself that was me. When my friends asked me, I would say ‘I want to be a Marine,'" said 18-year-old Cook. "Ever since that day, I've wanted to be a Marine."

As if the Corps was meant for him, Cook's mother remarried a Marine. Stanley Adam Rose raised Cook from the age of 12. Cook described his stepfather as a stern man but, regardless of the circumstances he could always make him see there was a lesson behind everything.

Rose, a former sergeant with multiple tours to Afghanistan, taught Cook lessons he did not understand at first; until he experienced them in recruit training.

During his childhood, Cook had to make his bed a certain way. Some of the requirements Rose had for a perfectly made bed were tightness in the sheets; without wrinkles. Sheets at the bottom end had to be at 45 degree angles, similar to how recruits make their beds on a daily basis. Unknowingly, his father was training him for some of the demands of recruit training.

He grew fond listening to stories about his stepfather's time in the Marine Corps. As a result, Cook decided to enlist in the Marine Corps to his stepfather's delight.

"My dad had a big smile on his face when I told him," said Cook.

In 2010, his stepfather was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in the kidneys and liver. The doctors treating him also said Rose had four to six months to live. As described by Cook, Rose weighed roughly 260 pounds at the time of diagnosis, now a frail 120 pounds.

Rose had to fight the disease to see his stepson become a Marine. He defied the odds and has lived well past his original diagnosis.

"Since I decided to join, he has told me that the only reason he is still alive was to see me graduate recruit training," said Cook. "He wanted to see me walk off that parade deck."

Cook became more determined to become a Marine. Cook's motivation was to make his step father proud.

"You can tell he wants to be a Marine and has the self discipline to push through adversity." said 30-year-old SSgt Joshua C. Geidel, drill instructor. "This is a difficult time for him but he still jumps at the opportunity to be in leadership positions."

Cook's dream of becoming a Marine has come true. Unfortunately, Rose was instructed by his doctors to stay at home due to his health conditions. He wouldn't be able to make the trip to see his stepson graduate.

"It kills me to know he won't be there," said Cook. "I wanted him there as much as he wanted to see me graduate."

Cook has to wait a few more hours to get home and see his stepfather. He said he is excited to see his father's eyes light up with pride.

"He wanted to see the improvement in me," said Cook. "He will still get a chance to see me as a Marine and that's the most important part."

Cook will be going to Marine Combat Training and then to Assault Amphibious Vehicle Crewman School, both located at Camp Pendleton Calif. From all the lessons Rose has taught Cook, one teaching sums up Cook's relationship with his step father, gratitude.

"During the entire time here, all I kept thinking about was what I would say to him," said Cook. "I just want to shake his hand and say thank you."

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