MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — Tracey Tippett’s time in the U.S. Marine Corps was about service.

“I went into boot camp in 1987 and I was officially discharged in 1992,” said Tracey Tippett of Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula. “I ended up stationed in Yuma, Arizona, I was with MWSS-371 which is a Marine air wing’s support squadron and I was a 1341, which is a heavy equipment mechanic.”

When she got out, she realized there was still a place for her to serve, “that I could help out in another aspect.”

Tippett is lifetime member of the Marine Corps League, a member of American Legion Post 114, a board trustee for the Marquette County Veterans Alliance and secretary of the Marquette Veterans Affairs Committee. One of the biggest projects she leads every year is being the Toys for Tots coordinator in Marquette County.

“I’ve been doing it now for the past five years and slowly trying to build it up and get more businesses involved and the community more involved in it,” Tippett said.

“It’s just amazing how many toys,” said Bruce Tippett, Tracey’s husband and head elf for Toys for Tots. “People are generous as far as Toys for Tots and bringing boxes to businesses. You walk in there with that box and the banners and their eyes light up like it’s Toys for Tots time and it’s kinda cool. I like that. There is so much support.”

“It’s just those things that (Tracey Tippett) does and she’s helpful in whatever way she can, whenever she can and she’s always there so if you need something, you can count on Tracey to help out,” said Jim Provost, chair of the Marquette County Veterans Alliance.

Recently, Provost presented Tracey with the Marquette County Veteran of the Year Award. She was the first woman to receive the honor.

“She was upstairs exercising and I was downstairs and all of a sudden I head, ‘Bruce Leonard…’ and she hollered and I’m like, ‘What did I do now?’ And then she said that she was voted and I’m like, ‘My life has changed again.’ And it was like she was 3 feet off the floor,” Bruce Tippett recalled.. “She was so excited, so proud. People are congratulating her and they tell me congratulations for her.”

“When I first found out, I was like pinch me you know, it was like I couldn’t believe it because there are so many other deserving veterans out there that I know that could have received this award so it was quite an honor and very unexpected,” Tracey Tippett said.

“Veterans are the ones that help other veterans the most,” Provost said. “To honor a veteran every year for doing that is great. They need that recognition. Most of of us don’t want it. We don’t go out looking for the recognition and stuff but every once in a while they’ll say you are going to get recognized for what you do and that’s a good thing and they should be. So we’re going to keep that going.”

Even more recently, Tippett was awarded the 2021 State of Michigan Veteran of the Year. This honor is given through the Commanders Group of Michigan.