WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As we settle in to celebrate Christmas, some folks cannot be home with their families. A Wilmington man in Coast Guard Bootcamp says being away is especially tough on Christmas.
Tyler Marine is working his way through training in Cape May, NJ, but he says his family, the community and his fellow recruits are all coming together to make this Christmas away from home special.
"This christmas is pretty hard," Marine told WWAY by phone today. "Luckily I have good shipmates, so that makes it a lot easier, but I definitely do miss my family."
Marine, 22, is hundreds of miles away from home this Christmas. Marine's stepdad James Davis says it's hard having him away for the holidays, but he thinks it's the right thing.
"I feel like it's where he needs to be," Marine's stepdad James Davis said. "I'm sad that it's at Christmas time. I wish he was here, but on the other hand I know that he's with a bunch of men that all have a common goal, and that's to get through this program and to serve our country."
The community near the Coast Guard Training Center is rallying around the coasties, opening up their homes and hearts in what is called operation fireside, much like the outreach program held around Thanksgiving here in Wilmington for troops from Camp Lejeune.
Marine says he is very appreciative of what the community is doing for him and his shipmates.
"I think it's amazing that people are willing to just take anybody not knowing who they are but just what they are willing to do for their country, and they're willing to take us in and treat us like family," he said.
Davis says the generosity of the community will help give his son's mission a deeper purpose.
"Just to be able to get away from that environment for a little bit and let him know this is what you're fighting for: the families and people of America and how we give back as much as we try to take," Davis said.
Marine says the support from his family in Wilmington, Morehead City and the community in Cape May is making him feel at home, even if he cannot come back for the holidays.
"It helps me every day just keep pushing to try to learn even more and try to do it yourself, and that's what it's all about: trying to behave yourself and get as much out of it as you can and just be grateful that you have the opportunities," Marine said.
Marine says he is scheduled to finish bootcamp January 4. He plans to come home before he is deployed for duty. He says the sacrifice is worth it to reach his ultimate goal.