Living… in the Marine Corps, otherwise known as “the Suck.” Sykes is deployed to Saudi Arabia as part as Operation Desert Shield after Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. Amenities are scarce as Sykes and company wait for war - no hot food, no flush toilets, and no women. It takes stoutness of mind and body to withstand the desert.
Profession… Staff Sergeant for the Surveillance and Target Acquisition unit in the Marine Corps. Sykes is a Marine “lifer." He tells one of his men, Lance Corporal Swofford: “I could be working with my brother right now. He's got a dry-wall business in Compton… And I'd run his crews, too, probably increase productivity 40 to 50%. Make $100K a year. Do you know why I don't? Because I love this job. I thank God for every day he gives me in the Corps. Oo-rah.”
Interests… Dodge Ram trucks, the board game Axis and Allies, and soldiering. Sykes exists in stark contrast to most of the marines he works with in that he actually enjoys his job. He seems to get some kind of satisfaction from testing the limits of his physical and mental endurance.
Relationship Status… married. Sykes has a wife and kids back home. Infidelity is common among wives and girlfriends of Marines, but Sykes seems much less concerned about this possibility than his troops.
Challenge… motivating his troops. He must keep them focused and combat-ready with a combination of carrots and sticks – mostly sticks. A talented disciplinarian, Sykes varies his punishments from creative (making troops play football in full chemical gear in 112 degree heat) to cynical (making them build a giant sandbag pyramid in the rain, only to dismantle it upon completion).
Personality… a hard-boiled Marine, through and through. Sykes is a master of profanity-laced insults. He is skilled in dealing with reporters who visit camp, telling his troops to “not be specific” during their interviews. He is respected by his superiors, for he has all the qualities of a first-rate Marine: leadership, toughness, and firm principles.
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