News: First Marine in 150-year family tradition of service
MONROE, N.C. - By earning the title Marine, Pvt. Cody Thrailkill carried on a multigenerational tradition of service above self that stretches back to at least the Civil War.
Thrailkill became the first Marine in the long line of service members when he graduated boot camp with Platoon 2040, Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, on June 6, 2014.
The family traces their military service back to Benjamin Jackson Sr., Thrailkill’s third great-grandfather, who worked in religious services during the Civil War as a grief counselor. A family heirloom journal helped Thrailkill connect with his ancestor and learn about Jackson's experiences during that horrific time period in American history.
Thrailkill, a 19-year-old native of Monroe, N.C., said his interest in joining the military was sparked his father, Byron Thrailkill, who shared stories of past soldiers in their family.
Before beginning his training, Thrailkill knew that some of his family had served in the U.S. Army. What he didn’t know was how far back the line of military service went or that he was opening a new chapter in his family’s history by becoming a Marine.
Although most of his ancestors served in the Army, Thrailkill knew that the Marine Corps was the branch for him. His best friend, who joined the Marine Corps before him, assured him that, upon graduating high school, he would need something to do with his life, and the Marine Corps was a great opportunity.
Thrailkill took the advice and decided to speak to a recruiter.
“From the moment I stepped in the office and started talking to the recruiters, I was set,” said Thrailkill. “There was just this feeling that this was what I was supposed to be doing.”
Once Thrailkill enlisted on March 9, 2014, he spent six months in the Delayed Entry Program, asking as many questions as possible and physically preparing himself with the help of his friends and recruiter.
Byron Thrailkill understood his son’s drive to join the United States Marine Corps, a place Cody Thrailkill felt called. His father instilled in him a sense of how important it is to serve your country and protect freedom.
Thrailkill acknowledges that having earned the title he must now uphold not only its honor but his family's honor as well.