From tiny Stony Fork in Campbell County to Karns and then around the world and back, Marcus Pyle is enjoying life in Knoxville as a Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) trooper.
He’s part of Troop A and spends his time on the roads, highways and interstates of Knox and Union counties.
Pyle, 30, is a trooper through and through, but before that he was a U.S. Marine with multiple deployments to the Middle East and the Pacific. He survived two cases of traumatic brain injury.
You could say that being a Marine is why he’s a state trooper.
“I am a Marine 100 percent. I like discipline. I researched the THP and loved what I found out. It’s one of the highest-rated state patrol organizations in the country,” Pyle said. “I realized if I made it through the academy I was going with the best. The THP has pride in our appearance and there’s not a day I don’t shine my shoes and press my uniform.”
As the Marines say, he’s “squared away.”
He made it through the 22-week THP academy in Nashville and then spent 10 weeks of field training.
“The academy was tough and stressful,” he says. “We are our own supervisors out on the road and I really like and respect that there is a lot of freedom that comes with being a trooper. It’s a professional organization that treats everyone professionally and with respect and that makes this a special place to work.”
He joined the Marines after graduating from Karns High in 2009. He was an outside linebacker and receiver for the football Beavers. A rotator cuff injury cut short his football career.
His Marine duty ended in 2014 and he came home and worked odd jobs for three years. “I needed some years to cool off and wind down from the Marines to the THP,” he says. “Now, I don’t know what else I would do. It’s a challenge, but I definitely enjoy it every day. At the end of the day, I go home to be a family man. Turning that switch off and on is the hardest thing you have to do.”
The day in the life of a trooper is unpredictable. Days when calls are few. Nights when you hit 136 mph chasing down a drunken driver on I-40. Day and night shifts dealing with accidents with fatalities. “The fatalities: wow. I try not to think about them and it’s that way for all of us. It affects you. You can’t deny it. I’ve seen some gruesome things on this job.”
His coping mechanism is twofold. The family is one. The other?
“Man, I love to fish and fish both Fort Loudon Lake and Norris,” he says.
Pyle is a member of the THP’s East Tennessee District Strike Team and is just back from eight weeks of protecting the State Capitol from rioters and protestors in Nashville.
His THP nickname is “Taz,” short for the infamous Tasmanian Devil. Why Taz? “I’m always itching to work and find stuff to get into: Looking for criminals, I’m an aggressive dope and gang hunter, and solving murders. I like to stay busy at work, always looking for something to do.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers. He writes this Monday column – Our Town Heroes –for KnoxTNToday.com. Suggest future stories at email@example.com or 865-659-3562.