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Ryan Parker wears his love for the country on his sleeve.

Parker has a tattoo of American flag on his right shoulder.

Patriotism has always been an important part of Parker’s life. An American flag hung in his bedroom growing up. Parker owned many shirts and hats with the flag on them.

Parker fits the description of an Army football player with his intensity on the field and what he stands for.

“I don’t know if he necessarily felt this way when he was being recruited or even when he first got here but he’s just grown into being one of those guys that just really loves the Army and is really, really excited about his opportunity to lead and to serve,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “Not that all the rest of them (the players) aren’t but there’s some guys that really get into it and are really excited about it and he’s one of those guys that has really embraced his opportunity as a soldier.”

Parker recently received a Commendation Medal for his actions during military training this summer.

Parker’s uncle, George Harris, a 1978 West Point graduate, is a retired major general. His great-grandfather fought in WWII.

“Listening to his (great-grandfather) stories, and my cousin’s stories and my uncle’s stories, I didn’t think there was any other choice for me, personally (than to attend West Point),” said Parker, who is a second-team linebacker and Army’s special teams ace. “To do what I love and still represent the United States and the Army, there’s nothing greater for me personally.”

Watch Army’s first kickoff Friday when the Black Knights open their season against Rice. No. 15 will be easy to locate as Parker flies down the field, looking for someone to hit.

“He’s a great kid,” Monken said. “He’s a tough guy. He is tough-minded and physically tough. He’s one of our best special teams players.”

View this video and find out what it means to Parker to be an Army football player.