By: Calista Boggess
Derek Summers served both active duty with the Marines and currently is part of the West Virginia National Guard. He lives in Ripley WV.
Q: What made you join the military?
A: I wanted to have a purpose for my life, do something that mattered. I had a need to serve my country.
Q: How old were you when you first joined?
A: I was 18 when I officially signed my contract into service on Dec 24, 2003 and just turned 19 before I shipped out to basic training on Jan 26, 2004.
Q: What branch of military did you serve in?
A: I joined the United States Marine Corps and served eight years total, four years active duty and four years with the Reserves. I am currently serving in the United States Army National Guard.
Q: Where were you stationed?
A: I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC for my active service with the Marine Corps and for my Reserve years I was at Moundsville,WV and Monroeville, PA. My National Guard unit is in Eleanor, WV.
Q: Were there any wars going on when you were in the service and if so what?
A: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation New Dawn were the wars I served in.
Q: Please share a memory.
A: Well there's a lot of memories to share, but during a mission near the Syrian border during my first deployment to Iraq. My unit was out in the desert for weeks securing a certain area for an ongoing operation. Our route was bombed, luckily missing our convoy, but it did enough damage to the bridge we just crossed to alter movement, so we were kind of stuck and cut off from supplies. We knew food and water would become scarce so we started finding, making routes to travel to search for these things as well as patrol the area to insure our security. After a week of traveling (by truck and on foot) in the 140 plus degree weather we found this one lonely building all by itself in the desert. We were cautious to check it out at first, not sure what was inside or why it was there, but finally did and boy were we glad we did! This random, desolate building was basically an ice factory, storing six foot long bricks of ice. We couldn't believe it, like it was a mirage or something from being out in the heat for so long with nothing else around. It was a comical, yet very relieving find to say the least. It's a memory I'll never forget!
Q: How has serving affected your life outside of the military?
A: Military affects on my life as a civilian, I guess I'd say it has shaped me to want to better myself, a sense of discipline, respect. The things I've learned and how I carry myself reflect my overall appearance and it's a noticed difference than from someone who hasn't served.
Q: What opportunities has the military provided that you might not have otherwise?A: Being in the military has allowed me the chance to travel to many countries, I've trained/ trained with military forces from around the world. I'm a part of history for generations to read about in later years and I think that's pretty cool.