A Marine fomerly stationed at Pickel Meadows Mountain Warfare Training Center was killed in Afganistan on Friday.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Phillip Allen Bocks was killed in an ambush after meeting with town elders, his family said Monday.
For three years, Bocks was stationed at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, Calif., where his family says he honed his leadership skills while sneaking out to ski whenever possible.
"He trained people how to survive a winter experience," Monica Bocks said. "He thrived in the Corps."
Bocks also learned to shoe horses and mules, training to be a farrier.
He was one of threee Marines featured in a Dec. 16, 2005, article appearing in The Record-Courier.
Bocks was born March 1, 1979, and moved with his family from Michigan to Truckee when he was in seventh grade. He attended Truckee schools through the 11th grade.
At Truckee High, Bocks acted in school plays and was a member of the swim club.
"He loved to act, especially in the play, 'Li'l Abner,'" said Monica Bocks of Truckee, Phillip's stepmother.
While living in Truckee, Bocks spent weekends skiing and snowboarding. He returned to Michigan to complete high school, and developed a flair for cooking. He then worked for several Detroit restaurants before joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 2000.
After training at Parris Island, S.C., Bocks was stationed at bases around the world, including Hawaii, Japan and Bahrain before his recent assignment to Afghanistan.
According to a 2005 article in the Marine Corps News Room, Bocks was a "mule pack master," training Marines how to use pack mules when fighting in rugged, inaccessible landscapes.
"Our job is to get the Marines comfortable around the animals, to be confident in packing them, in caring for them, and for the Marines to be proficient at leading them on resupply missions by the end of the training," he told an interviewer.
Bocks was training Marines at the Mountain Warfare center in February, when he was interviewed for another Marine Corps News Room article.
"Establishing a solid base of knowledge is crucial for these Marines going out to live on a mountain," Bocks said. "The main focus is utilizing the same type of training applied in warm weather and using it in the different elements."
According to his stepmother, Bocks did not have to return to Afghanistan, "but he was dedicated to his mission."
According to the Associated Press, the attack that killed Bocks and five others in eastern Afghanistan Friday brought the number of deaths of American serviceman to 101 for the year, making it the deadliest year for American troops in that theater.
The Marines were killed while returning from a meeting with village elders in Nuristan province, attacked my militants wielding rocket-propelled grenades, the AP reported.
Eight other Americans were wounded and three Afghan soldiers killed in the ambush.
Family survivors include Bocks' father, Ken Bocks of Truckee; his stepmother, Monica Bocks of Truckee; his mother, Peggy Bocks of Troy, Mich.; an uncle, Spence Bocks of Reno; cousins Mike Bocks, Gretchen Bocks, Arlo Bocks, Meagan Bocks, Ryan Bocks and Jenna Bocks, all of Reno; and other relatives living in California, Nevada, Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia.
A military service will be held at a later date in Bridgeport.