Fresh out of high school with no idea what he wanted to do, Bill Reape decided to follow his father’s example and enlisted in the Marines.
“He was always proud to have served,” said Reape, who is now a Brentwood police officer.
When Reape enlisted he “choose the hardest area — combat engineer,” he said, adding, “I wanted to do the biggest and the best.”
A year later, he transitioned to the marksmanship training unit.
“I taught (Marines) how to shoot,” he said.
After completing basic training, Reape did his advanced training at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, and then went to Okinawa for jungle warfare and then the Marine’s Pickel Meadows Mountain Warfare Training Center in California. He was still on the road to become a combat engineer.
“For two weeks in January, we had to survive off the land and to navigate,” he said. “It was an experience so our unit would be special-op capable, well-rounded in any environment.”
At the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in the desert town of Twentynine Palms, California, the Marines practiced combined arms exercises with all branches of the military.
“All the branches came together to learn to work as one,” he said. “Every branch has their specialty. Leaders knew how to employ that (energy). This gets everybody together to work out differences.”
Later, Reape’s company went to Hong Kong to train the British Royal Marines in assault tactics.
“We all had a lot to overcome,” he said. “British military culture, terminology and rank structure are different.”
The mission? The British Royal Marines were to defend a town the American Marines were going to take over.
“We worked on tactics for possible future missions together,” Reape said.
For the record, the Americans were able to take the town.
A year into the training, Reape headed a different direction and transitioned to marksmanship training to become a shooting instructor. He had entered the Marines with plenty of civilian firearms experience and the crossover to military firepower came easily. Once he received his certification, he went all over the world training new Marines and 20-year veterans.
It was a pilot program that provided a refresher course to break old habits, provide instruction on new weapons systems, including handguns, rifles, shotguns and rocket launchers.
When Reape entered the Marines, he planned to make it a career, but after four years, he realized it wasn’t really the career for him.
“The military instills a bunch of discipline, and I appreciate everything I learned,” he said. “It gives the fundamentals for everything in life — if you listen.”
Reape was discharged in late 1996 and went home to South Florida, where he began a career in law enforcement.
“I’ve been in law enforcement since,” he said.
Reape said that in 2005, after two major hurricanes — Francis and Jeanne — he’d had enough of that.
“We were without power for weeks,” he said. “No air conditioning, gas shortages and major flooding.”
Born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, Reape had family in both places, so he chose Tennessee, about halfway between the two, as the place to settle.
“The people are so nice and the seasons are great,” he said.
Reape visited the Middle Tennessee area to get the lay of the land and to speak with different law enforcement agencies before making a decision.
“I chose Brentwood,” he said. “It seemed to be the best fit. I believe I was right.”
Reape is now a department administrator dealing with evidence, firearms instruction and Tazer instruction. He also oversees the department’s Drug Take Back program, which is affiliated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The most recent take-back day, on Oct. 26, yielded 213 pounds of prescription drugs.