Memorial Day was only a few weeks ago, but to one grandfather, celebrating his grandson's service to our country is something he thinks about every day.
Lester Luft of the Boyertown area, is proud to say that he is the grandfather of a U.S. Marine.
Private 1st Class Tyler Michael Jacobs, U. S. Marine and O311 Infantry Rifleman or 'grunt' as they are referred to by the Marines, is a 2011 graduate of Pottsgrove High School who is currently deployed in Afghanistan.
'Ty has known since ninth grade that he wanted to join the military,' said Colleen Phillips, Tyler's mother. 'He always knew that he wanted to make a difference and knew that he would be able to accomplish that by serving our country.'
Colleen said that both she and Tyler's father, Michael Jacobs, both Pottsgrove residents, were taken aback by Tyler's decision to enlist.
'He has a great-grandfather and a grandfather on his dad's side that served,' she said. 'But other than being a patriotic family, we really weren't a military family.'
'But,' she continued, 'we prayed about it and completely support his decision. Tyler has a very strong allegiance to both God and his country.'
As a testament to their faith, Tyler, Colleen and Tyler's sister, Hailey, all members of the Biker Church in Boyertown, were baptized at the church right before Tyler was deployed.
Tyler enlisted by signing his contract in his junior year of high school. After he graduated, he was off to Basic Training.
'He went from Paris Island to North Carolina to California back to North Carolina and then to Afghanistan,' said Lester. 'I got to see him a month before he left and we hope and pray that we will have him home by Christmas.'
Colleen said that Tyler is on the front line where he is stationed, although his exact location cannot be disclosed.
'He was assisting the Chaplain when his unit got to Afghanistan,' she said. 'Because the Chaplain can't go out as far as the troops do, Tyler is the person that the soldiers speak to when they need spiritual guidance, want to pray or just need to talk.'
Colleen said that Tyler is able to call home 'every 10 days or so' and that he's always happy to hear news from home.
'He's always upbeat and enthusiastic, even though the last time we spoke, it was 130 degrees,' she laughed.
She also said that Tyler -- as well as the rest of his unit -- gets very excited when letters, cards and packages arrive.
'His teachers and friends from Pottsgrove School District have been so supportive,' she said. 'Every time I talk to him, he wants to make sure that I thank everyone that sent him cards or letters or packages.'
And that's also where his grandfather's gift came in.
'We get The Boyertown Times every Thursday and read it from front to back,' Lester said. 'I'd always save the paper and give it to Tyler on Friday because he has a lot of friends in the Boyertown area and likes to keep up with news from around here.'
A few weeks ago, Lester decided that the best way to give Tyler a little piece of home would be to get him a subscription to the Times.
'He called me two weeks ago after he got his first copy and he was so excited!' said Colleen. 'It means so much to him to be able to get some local 'home' news.'
Tyler's deployment in Afghanistan is a seven month tour of duty. After that, he will spend a month being debriefed and should be home before the end of the year.
'While he's there, we'll just keep praying for his safe return and for the safety of all our soldiers,' Colleen said. 'And we'll keep sending him letters and packages and The Boyertown Times so he can keep up with everything that's going on in our area!'