Sgt. Phillip Bocks
(reprinted from RGJ.com, November 14, 2007)
Truckee Marine volunteered for combat
By GERALDA MILLER
Marine Sgt. Phillip Allen Bocks was working as a chef in a Detroit-area restaurant when he joined the Marines in 2000, without his parents’ knowledge.
The former Truckee High School student killed Friday in Afghanistan also had volunteered to go the war-torn country. He was 28.
“He was there because he wanted to be there and he knew the dangers,” Kent Bocks of Truckee said of his son.
Instead of accepting reassignment in April to the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command at Twentynine Palms, Calif., Bocks chose Afghanistan, said Capt. Abel Espinosa, adjutant and legal officer at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, Calif.
“It’s not unusual, but it’s not the usual,” Espinosa said. “You’re dealing with a special breed when you’re talking about Sgt. Bocks.”
An ambush Friday killed Bocks and five others in eastern Afghanistan as they returned from a meeting with village elders in Nuristan province. Militants attacked with rocket-propelled grenades, wounding eight other Americans and killing three Afghan soldiers.
For three years, Espinosa said Bocks prepared Marines for warfare at the training facility 100 miles south of Reno on U.S. 395. His specialty was training them how to use pack mules.
“That is something that he was really proud of,” Espinosa said.
In Aranus, Afghanistan, Bocks trained troops in the Afghan army as part of 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps.
“He was there fighting the fight but at the same time gathering information so we can use that in our training here,” Espinosa said.
Kent Bocks said he was proud of the decisions his son made.
“The Marines is where he wanted to be,” he said. “He re-enlisted twice and that was his life. He was totally in favor of protecting our country. He felt somebody had to protect us.”
Bocks, who moved with his family from Michigan to Truckee when he was in seventh grade, attended Truckee schools through the 11th grade. Because of his culinary interest, Kent Bocks said his son decided to return to Michigan for his senior year. His mother, Peggy Bocks, lives in Troy, Mich. He graduated from Niles Community High School.
Sgt. Bock’s body will arrive today in Reno for a private family viewing at Mountain View Mortuary before cremation.
A military service will be Monday at the training center.