A west Lincoln native and teacher for Lincoln County Schools leaves for training this week in preparations for deployment to Iraq.
â€œThere is nothing set in stone, but all of our training is for a deployment,â€ Matthew Reep said of the possibility of going to Iraq.
Reep, a 1994 graduate of West Lincoln High School, joined the Marines 11 years ago. His brother also served five years as a Marine reserve and was stationed in Japan.
â€œAt the time, I was in college looking for something to make myself more marketable in the future, the challenges it presented, the adventure and the possibility to go some places appealed to me as a 19-year-old in college,â€ he said.
After joining the Marines, Reep found it more than just a challenge.
â€œItâ€™s serving your country. Itâ€™s dedication to your country and community and to your family. I saw it as a way to better my life and my environment and my family,â€ Reep said.
Reep re-enlisted in 2000 and even found his passion for teaching through the Marines when he worked at a Marine summer camp for youth.
â€œI did it for a week and really enjoyed it. I did some instructing and all of the summer counselor type stuff,â€ he said.
His wife, who was Reepâ€™s fiancÐ¹ at the time, introduced him to the teaching program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Reep took his first job at East Lincoln High School and transferred to North Lincoln when the school opened.
His wife of seven years, Amy, teaches at Lyle Creek Elementary School in Catawba County. The two have a 2-year old son, Aydan.
The possibility of deployment is bittersweet.
â€œThe dad, the teacher and the husband side of me, of course, doesnâ€™t want to leave North Lincoln or my home in Newton,â€ he said. â€œAs a Marine, I know this is why we train and this is what weâ€™re here for.â€
Reep said that as a Marine being deployed, the idea brings excitement.
â€œTo actually be deployed and be able to go and do some things weâ€™ve all been trained for, there is a bit of excitement. There is a new unknown of where youâ€™re going to go and what youâ€™re going to do,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s exciting but itâ€™s tinged with a little anxiety and sadness. Iâ€™m competent in my training that I will go over there and be safe and come home soon.â€
The news of Reepâ€™s deployment also sparks mixed emotions in Reepâ€™s mother, who said God is the only thing that will help during this time.
â€œIâ€™m somewhere between exploding with pride and absolutely scared to death,â€ said Denise Jenks, Reepâ€™s mother. â€œI donâ€™t know where the happy medium is between the two.â€
Jenks is familiar with the anxiety her son is going through concerning his deployment.
â€œI kind of understand what heâ€™s going through, for wanting to go, but as a mother, it frightens me,â€ she said.
Jenks belongs to a federal agency that supported those displaced by Katrina in Mississippi in October 2006.
â€œI know what itâ€™s like to prepare to be ready to do something, and youâ€™re just waiting on the phone to ring to be deployed,â€ she said. â€œI know what anxiety that causes. In that respect, heâ€™s been in the Marines for 11 years, and for 11 years heâ€™s been preparing.â€
In her window, Jenks displays a blue star she was given four years ago. Jenks plans to keep the star in her window during Reepâ€™s deployment.
â€œAt one time I had two Marines,â€ Jenks said in reference to two blue stars. â€œIâ€™m very proud, very proud that (Matthew) has balanced being married, being a dad, being a good husband, being a good school teacher and a marine.â€
Reep plans to continue teaching history after he returns from his tour.
â€œI appreciate all the cards and the well wishes and the gifts that have been given to me and my family since word of the deployment has spread around,â€ he said. â€œI want to tell everyone thank you and I appreciate them keeping my family and all service men around the world in their prayers.â€
by Maribeth Kiser