COVINGTON - Tyler Phillips, a Covington Eagle Scout and Naval Sea Cadet, has had a very busy year.
Earlier this year, he was named the National Sea Cadet of the Year and the Georgia VFW Eagle Scout of the Year. With these honors came meetings and receptions in his honor. On top of all that came his school work, through a joint biology program at Clayton College and State University and Georgia Tech, as well as his extracurricular activities and family life, which have filled up his calendar for most of the year.
Phillips said the recognition he's received has been a humbling experience. "I can't explain it," he said. "It's just an honor."
He said the awards were based mostly on his training and rank, as well as recommendations.
"I've been to about 15 or 16 trainings and worked with the Blue Angels and Special Forces," Phillips said. "I've been on a submarine and to the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea for a couple of days. You name it, I've done it."
In March, he was notified that he was chosen as the 2007 U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Cadet of the Year.
"This is a well-deserved honor and is presented to a NCSS Cadet 'who has excelled in all phases of training and whose achievement marks him as an inspiration to others,'" reads his announcement letter. "Your consistent demonstration of commitment and level of performance and your inspiration provides an example to which all should aspire."
As Cadet of the Year, he was invited to the annual Navy League Convention in Palm Springs, Calif., in early November.
In July, he received notification that he was the state Eagle Scout of the Year, sponsored by VFW Post 5290.
What's next on his list? On New Year's Eve, Phillips will ride in the Chick-fil-A Bowl parade from 12:30 until 2 p.m.
He said he's been in the parade about six times, marching with the Sea Cadet's color guard, but this year will be different.
"I'll be riding in one of the cars," he said. "I've never been in the back of a vehicle waving to people. Usually, we don't really pay attention (to the people), because we're marching."
Boy Scout Troop 222 will accompany him by walking in the parade with him.
"Anybody can be in the parade," said Scout Leader Jerry Aldridge. "Since he was selected, I felt like we should be there to support him."
Aldridge said about 15 to 20 of the troop's 50 members will attend the parade, which starts at 12:30 p.m. Monday at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard in Downtown Atlanta.
"I think everybody who's going to be in it is really looking forward to it," Aldridge said.
Phillips said he's basically "aged out" of the Boy Scouts and Sea Cadets, but he plans to continue involvement with both organizations through teaching younger members.
"I kind of pass on my knowledge to them," he said.
After he finishes his four-year degree in biology and four years of medical school, he plans to enlist in the military to become a doctor.
His grandfather was in the military, but he said no other family members have been involved in it or in the medical field.
"I've just felt like all of my life I wanted to go in the military," Phillips said.
He said the awards, on top of his work and accolades over the past several years in both organizations, will help get him through the training faster.
His mother Donna said the military wouldn't be her first choice for him, especially during war time, but she supports his decision.
"He wants to take care of them," she said. "We're excited for what lies ahead for him. He's a good kid. I'm proud of him."
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.