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Face of Defense: Radio Station Honors Marine as "Hometown Hero'

By Joycelyn Biggs
United States Department of Defense

March 3, 2014 - After a flood of calls, texts and Facebook posts, Marine Corps Sgt. Thomas Over learned he had been selected as Hometown Hero of the Week by radio station WYRK in Alden, N.Y.

Over is licensing noncommissioned officer for Garrison Mobile Equipment, Logistics Support Division here.

Each week, WYRK honors a service member who receives a "thank you" on the air. The station dedicates the first song of its "Noon Tunes" feature to the chosen service member.

"My phone was ringing nonstop, and everybody was posting on my Facebook page that day," Over said. "At first, I thought my friends were just playing a joke on me, but so many people were contacting me. I later found out my sister nominated me for the title and the station selected me."

This is not Over's first time being considered a hero. In 2013, he saved his wife's life while celebrating his sister's birthday in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Over and several friends were on a rented boat when his wife and her friend decided to jump off the boat into the water.

After watching the two, Over realized they were in trouble. He jumped into the water and swam to the struggling duo. Over said the currents were strong, and it was impossible for him alone to rescue them both. He called for help, and another friend in a kayak came and delivered the pair safely to shore.

Over downplayed his role in the rescue, saying he considers it a group effort.

"I would not have been able to get them back to safety by myself," he said. "I'm just glad I was able to assist. Lifeguard training and advanced swim qualification with the Marine Corps equipped me with the skills I needed that day."

For as long as he can remember, Over said, his dream was to become a Marine. Wasting no time in making his dream come true, he joined the Marine Corps two days after graduating from Alden High School.

His responsibilities include facilitating 40-hour, five-day classes to become a forklift operator, hazardous and explosive material classes, commercial bus classes, and commercial 3-ton truck safety training. He also has additional duties, participating in funeral details and helping Marines and employees here to prepare their tax returns.

Kitras Thomas, Garrison Mobile Equipment training and licensing instructor, said Over is professional and motivated.

"Even when he is not in uniform, Over is a person who makes the Marine Corps proud," Thomas said, noting that Over volunteers during his off-duty time as a coach for youth football.

"When he is in the office, he shows such dedication and willingness to go above and beyond what he is expected to do," he added. "I feel proud to have him on my team."

Over also is working toward a business degree at Darton State College here.

"I plan to make the Marines my career," he said. "I want to serve my country for as long as they will allow me to serve, but I want to be as prepared as possible for whatever I am tasked to do. I think earning my degree will only ensure I am best prepared for any task assigned to me."

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