By Lorcan McCormick
Post Associate Editor
At what age a destiny takes shape varies; frequently, it would be said, young aspirations turn in older age to a chuckling matter of remembrance. How many of us can recall dreams of being an astronaut or firefighter? There is always an exception to the rule; for Joshua and Jacob Floyd of Greenfield, they made a pairing of being those exceptions. As young as three, with a goal toward being a pilot, Joshua Floyd wanted to be in the military. For Jacob, looking up to his big brother, it was of no surprise to see it take shape as a fraternal journey to be taken together.
On both sides of their family is a lineage of military service. “My family, my mom’s side, they all served in the military and Jeff’s family on his dad’s side they were all in the military and so that played a big part in our boy’s lives and our kids absorbed that history.” Marci Floyd, mother of Joshua and Jacob and Weakley County Trustee, makes these remarks; the pride of her son’s service is evident from a glance at her desk which has adorned photos of the boys along with a sign reading, “Proud Marine Mom.” For her and her husband Jeff Floyd, there is no hesitation in expression of pride in the path their children have taken.
Jeff traces some of the history that inspired the brothers, “my Dad, they were really close to him, he served in the Army from ’56 to ’59. He was in cryptography. All three of his brothers actually served in the Army as well, and his next oldest brother served in Korea. He was actually killed in Korea two days after his eighteenth birthday.” Newt Howard Floyd, the brother who was KIA in Korea, was the first casualty from Weakley County in the Korean War; his name on the memorial shrine in Dresden cast an honorable and sobering reminder of the duty of military service. What is beyond doubt is the respect held for Jerry Floyd, their grandfather. Joshua Floyd commented about him, “my grandad he was really one of my best friends growing up and I always looked up to him. He encouraged me when the time came if I wanted to join the service and I know everyday that doing what I’m doing makes him proud.”
Jerry Floyd passed in 2018.
Marci recalls, “he would always go with the boys to the Veteran’s Day Program and they always got to escort him out, so they got to walk out with their paw paw. It’s just a part of who our family is. We’re just proud of them.”
The influence of family through Newt, Jerry, and others was not the singular driving force toward the military, indeed numerous members of the community of Weakley played a role big and small in shaping the boys into the young men they have become.
Marci remarks, “we’ve had so many people in the community who just wrapped their arms around them and encouraged them with everything they’ve done with their lives. We have several who come in and ask about them and it means a lot.” Human interest, the vital bonds that are forged with individuals, is a recurrent in the story of the Floyds.
Joshua comments, “most importantly the best opportunity that comes from the service is the people you get to work with, Every one person I’ve worked with is an extraordinary person whose bonds are stronger than blood from the experiences you share with them.” The notion of ties of familial power extending beyond family domain is apparent from early age to the present now. Marci notes, “Johnny Sams, George Crawford, Gary Crawford – Joe Atnip, he was in the Navy, he’s always been my oldest son’s role model, and he actually did at Joshua’s commissioning his first salute.” Jeff stresses, “coming into a meeting now and then, Christmas dinner, just getting to know those men and know those things had a lot of influence on them.”
Which comes to another recurrent factory in the Floyds lives: peanut butter. It serves very different causes to Joshua and Jacob’s service, but nevertheless permeates both. Joshua Floyd is an officer in training who in October will be reporting to The Basic School, which teaches fundamentals about being a provisional rifle officer in The Marine Corps. Joshua expounded on how he shifted from those early dreams of the sky as a pilot to an infantry officer role, “whenever I first got the scholarship for ROTC, I didn’t really know that much about The Marine Corps but as I got to work with Marines through ROTC, I got a sense of the leadership opportunities you’d have as a pilot versus on the ground infantry MOS (Military Occupational Speciality) you have more face to with time with your Marines.”
Jacob is an enlisted infantryman in The Marine Corps, a contrast of officer and enlisted man that both parents agree is suiting the organized nature of Joshua and the carefree Jacob. Joshua had as a young boy a peanut allergy, and when it came time to pursue his military career it became an instant hurdle due to the necessity of being able to eat MREs, which contain peanut butter.
As it drew near that the allergy could prove fatal to his military aspirations, Joshua concluded to take the drastic action of confronting his health and elected to prove he could eat peanut butter. Joshua recalls, “it was definitely a hurdle when applying because it was kind of a medical disqualifier right off the rip. It’s as close to a miracle as I can imagine.” Marci recalls it with similar awe, “we had a lot of people in the county praying. Everyone in this courthouse witnessed it. Joshua said I know God’s healed me and … He did.” On Jacob’s end, Jacob was described by his parents as a skinny young man who barely met the weight parameters to enter military service. To solve his scrawny physique, he was made to eat a loaf of bread with a whole jar of peanut butter to put on protein and calories. The result was impressive according to the Floyds, who remarked Jacob came home having gained 23 pounds of muscle since leaving for boot camp.
Second Lieutenant Joshua Floyd graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business from Rhodes College. Private Jacob Floyd successfully completed 13 weeks of intensive basic training as one of 44 recruits in First Recruit Training Battalion, Charlie Company, Platoon 1052. While in recruit training Private Floyd accomplished/achieved the following: Expert Rifle Marksman and Honor Platoon Member.
“There’s a purpose for where they are,” Jeff proudly remarks. “I hope that they are inspiring to younger people who are in school who may not know where they are going or doing, that this is a good opportunity to do something.”
Joshua stated, “I would just say it is a blessing to be able to do what I am going to get to do in the service. I am really thankful for the opportunity and I encourage any young man or woman who is considering that path to do it if they are capable of doing it.”
Generations forging links in an unshakable chain of military service, from the sacrifice of Newt Howard Floyd through Joe Atnip’s inspiring Naval service onward from Jerry Floyd’s loving mentorship regarding leadership, leads us to Joshua and Jacob Floyd of Weakley County. There is no shortage of pride from the community they grew up in, nor from the parents who love them. Now they take their turn representing military participation for the young in Weakley County, and it is unknowable who they may inspire, but it is undeniable that in the forging of these bonds it will happen somewhere along the way.