MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Young Americans who just received the right to vote are joining the nation’s armed forces to proudly serve their country. One Boone County, Ky., native became a Marine before reaching the legal voting age.
Private First Class Timothy A. Spreder, 17, couldn’t wait until he turned 18 to join the Marine Corps. He wanted to enlist as soon as he became eligible.
As a young man attending Simon Kenton High School, Spreder wasn’t involved in many activities and describes himself as being a troublemaker because high school wasn’t for him.
In July 2003, the 16-year-old boy without any direction in his life joined the Army National Guard’s Bluegrass Challenge at Fort Knox, Ky., to start a journey that would eventually lead him to where he is today.
The challenge, which is a six-month boot camp-like program, helped Spreder receive his General Educational Development diploma.
“I knew the military was my only option because high school wasn’t working out for me, and I wanted the discipline the challenge offered,” Spreder explained. “It put me on the path to success because you can’t go anywhere without a high school diploma,” Spreder said.
Upon completing the program, Spreder’s parents signed his four-year contract with the Marines. At the age of 17, he could not join without his parents consent.
Along with the challenge, Spreder’s parents Monica and Dale provided him with the support he needed to accomplish the goals he wanted to reach.
“My mom and dad always supported me. They knew I understood what I was getting into,” explained the family-oriented Marine. “They taught me how to show respect for others which was fine tuned by the Marine Corps.”
The young receptions clerk is responsible for checking all new Marines into the 2d Marine Division.
“I come in contact with all different types of Marines, so this job has enhanced my skills in dealing with people,” Spreder explained with a bright smile on his face.
According to Spreder his main goal is similar to most people’s aspirations.
“I just want to be successful at anything I do and I want to always be able to support myself,” he explained. “That’s why I joined the Marine Corps so early in life. I didn’t want to wait to start my life and start being successful.”
Spreder never had a set schedule growing up and when he was in high school. But now as a Marine, he has come to realize that a schedule can be more beneficial than he ever imagined.
“Before I joined, it would take about two months for me to actually get things done. But now, life seems so much easier because I get everything done ahead of time so I’m not rushed to complete it,” Spreder explained nodding his brown-haired head.
As this motivated private first class moves further into his Marine Corps career, thoughts of a re-enlistment are on his mind.
“I’ll only be about 21-years-old after my first enlistment, so either way if I stay in I’ll be young enough to continue, but if I get out I’m still able to start my career at a young age,” he explained. “I planned my life out this way.”
In a day and age where the word hero is used too often, many are overlooked. But if you stop and look at this 17-year-old serving his country you are reminded that American pride runs deep in the veins of even the youngest Americans.
“I wanted to serve in the military. I knew it was what I was meant to do and as a Marine I strive to be the best,” explained the eager Marine from northern Kentucky’s metropolitan area.