Passing on a good post

March 11, 2008

A Neighborhood Reborn

by Captain Pete Hegseth

Al Doura, Baghdad — As I step out of the humvee into the street, I have two facts in mind: I’ve been here before; and this time, I don’t have a weapon.

Recalling the tension of my first patrol in this neighborhood as a platoon leader, my five senses are sharp. The dusty road below greets my boots, some of the smells are eerily familiar, and the sound of idling humvees is my only comfort. My head swivels to scan the street. My hands are naked without an M-4, so I find the nearest soldier.

Soon — as a young child approaches — the wary familiarity gives way to fascination. I may be in the same geographic location, but I’m not in the same neighborhood. This is not Al Doura, at least not as I knew it. Where did all these people and shops come from? Where is all the trash, and the open sewage? Where is the fear — the deep-seated fear?

Children approach, as they usually do — but today it’s not just children. Young men walk up, initiating conversation. Women cross the street between our humvees, seemingly unaware of the GIs. The people are friendly, but not assertively so. Our presence is natural, almost routine. My inner tension clashes with the calm scene unfolding around me.

I take a few steps into the middle of an intersection with a clear view in all directions. Along the main thoroughfare, my immediate surroundings are replicated: block after block of shops and bustling residents. The side streets that I remember as sewage-clogged gutters are clean and teeming with construction and activity.

This is not Al Doura. The Al Doura I knew was the heart of sectarian violence, with daily body counts in the dozens. As I keep walking, I pass a busy car wash, and then a fitness center where young men pump iron and tear-outs of Muscle Fitness adorn the walls. We pass two new playgrounds, where boys clamber up and down slides and beautiful little girls play with dolls. A cart vendor offers me a bag of freshly popped popcorn — but I decline and have some falafel instead.

Increasingly relaxed and curious, I duck into side streets. One leads me to a buzzing recreation center, where soldiers are challenged to a game of pool. In the next room, teenage boys fight it out in the computer game “Medal of Honor” (which my little brother plays constantly). The World War II battle simulator heats up as we enter: the “German” I’m watching turns a virtual corner and lobs a grenade at an “American.” We all burst out laughing. That’s as much hostility as my patrol would face this day.

The entire time, we have only nominal security. It was disconcerting at first — I would never have come here unarmed two years ago — but the commander I’m walking with eases my concerns: the people are our security. The neighborhood residents trust the Americans, as well as the “Sons of Iraq” (or CLCs, as the Army calls them: Concerned Local Citizens) — local residents who provide security for the neighborhood. In a place where al-Qaeda dominated just eight months ago, today they couldn’t buy a bag of popcorn.

The unit’s commander — Lieutenant Colonel James Crider — clarifies the new situation in Doura, “We made a deliberate attempt to engage the people and soon enough, when they realized we weren’t going anywhere, that’s when they started talking to us.”

Beginning in June, while bullets were still flying, Crider’s squadron held sit-down meetings with every family in Doura, walking house-to-house over the course of several months to forge personal relationships. This approach — combined with a 24/7 presence in the neighborhoods — eventually crippled al-Qaeda. LTC Crider notes, “Al-Qaeda had no idea who was ratting them out, because we went into every house.” The relationships they fostered from these meetings provided intelligence that allowed the unit to detain al-Qaeda members who were thriving on American ignorance and hiding in plain sight. One of Crider’s lieutenants adds, “It was a battle of intel — and we won.”

These gains, however, were costly. In their first 30 days in Doura, the unit was attacked over 50 times. On the very streets we’re walking today, LTC Crider has lost nine good men, with dozens more injured. But the unit persisted — honoring the sacrifices of their brethren — and has not been attacked in their sector since September 27. As compelling testimony to the unit’s dedication to the task, LTC Crider’s squadron had the highest reenlistment rate in all of Baghdad in 2007, exceeding their goal by over 500 percent.

As we walk, we see scars of the neighborhood’s violent recent past — bombed-out homes pepper the area and bullet-sprayed walls are everywhere. Some power wires dangle out of place. All is not perfect — but signs of life keep finding us. As we reach the end of the block, three young males approach, all looking for work and eager to join the “Sons of Iraq.” This is typical, Crider informs me, and the unit jots down their names.

LTC Crider and his soldiers understand that the security gains, though real, are still tenuous — if alternatives to insurgency are not soon in place. The unit has given out hundreds of business micro-loans, many of which were used for street-front stores. They fund only local contractors, who hire local workers to pick up trash, fix sewage pipes, and provide electricity. The people of Doura themselves are rebuilding Doura — with the U.S. Army’s help.

Before going to lunch with a local leader, I stop and talk with Omar, the owner of a small grocery. He’s clean-shaven, well dressed, and roughly my age. He moved to Doura about two years ago (when my unit was here), after being displaced from his town by the Mahdi Army.

I ask him why hadn’t he joined al-Qaeda either to expel Americans or retaliate against the Shia. He replied, “Because al-Qaeda kills civilians, including my aunt and three cousins.” His uncle was a local contractor — an offense to al-Qaeda, punishable by the killing of his wife and daughters. Omar speaks candidly of the U.S. presence here: “Americans have made many mistakes, but now they are fixing them. . . . If Americans leave now, it will be a disaster.”

The most telling aspect of our conversation is where it takes place — on the street, out in the open, and among Omar’s fellow residents. He is not afraid, and vows to fight al-Qaeda if they ever return. I ask him why, of all places, he decided to move to Doura at the height of the violence here. “Because they are good people,” he answers.

It was then that I realized I had never really been to this place — I just thought I had. This is the real Al Doura, a neighborhood and a people reborn — thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of LTC Crider and his men. Today, I saw Al Doura for the first time.

— Captain Pete Hegseth, who served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division from 2005 to 2006, is executive director of Vets for Freedom. He’s back in Iraq for the next week to cover the surge for NRO.

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Woman Earns Silver Star in Afghan War

March 10, 2008

I am beaming with pride for a local Soldier! Our sincere gratitude for the brave actions of Spc. Monica Brown. She is another excellent example of the backbone of our country.

From time to time I fret that our youth are seriously lacking in values and strength, then I turn my attention to our men and women in the military and I am reminded that they are indeed our future… And I once again have reason to believe our nation is not as flawed as is painted with lopsided news stories. My thanks go out to our brave Soldiers.

By FISNIK ABRASHI,
AP

CAMP SALERNO, Afghanistan (March 9) – A 19-year-old medic from Texas will become the first woman in Afghanistan and only the second woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest medal for valor.

Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said.


Rafiq Maqbool, AP

Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown will become the first woman in Afghanistan and only the second woman since World War II to receive the nation’s third-highest medal for valor.

After the explosion, which wounded five soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, the military said.

“I did not really think about anything except for getting the guys to a safer location and getting them taken care of and getting them out of there,” Brown told The Associated Press on Saturday at a U.S. base in the eastern province of Khost.

Brown, of Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled to receive the Silver Star later this month. She was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling near Jani Kheil in the eastern province of Paktia on April 25, 2007, when a bomb struck one of the Humvees.

“We stopped the convoy. I opened up my door and grabbed my aid bag,” Brown said.

She started running toward the burning vehicle as insurgents opened fire. All five wounded soldiers had scrambled out.

“I assessed the patients to see how bad they were. We tried to move them to a safer location because we were still receiving incoming fire,” Brown said.

Pentagon policy prohibits women from serving in frontline combat roles – in the infantry, armor or artillery, for example. But the nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with no real front lines, has seen women soldiers take part in close-quarters combat more than previous conflicts.

Four Army nurses in World War II were the first women to receive the Silver Star, though three nurses serving in World War I were awarded the medal posthumously last year, according to the Army’s Web site.

Brown, of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, said ammunition going off inside the burning Humvee was sending shrapnel in all directions. She said they were sitting in a dangerous spot.

“So we dragged them for 100 or 200 meters, got them away from the Humvee a little bit,” she said. “I was in a kind of a robot-mode, did not think about much but getting the guys taken care of.”

For Brown, who knew all five wounded soldiers, it became a race to get them all to a safer location. Eventually, they moved the wounded some 500 yards away, treated them on site before putting them on a helicopter for evacuation.

“I did not really have time to be scared,” Brown said. “Running back to the vehicle, I was nervous (since) I did not know how badly the guys were injured. That was scary.”

The military said Brown’s “bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat.”

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, of Nashville, Tenn., received the Silver Star in 2005 for gallantry during an insurgent ambush on a convoy in Iraq. Two men from her unit, the 617th Military Police Company of Richmond, Ky., also received the Silver Star for their roles in the same action.


Wounded Army officer has last ball thrown by Favre

March 5, 2008

I love this story as it ties a real American Hero with Football!(I really have tried to overcome my love of the game. But, I am a junkie.)Our thanks go out to Lt.Col Gadson and his family for their sacrifices for our country.


Associated Press – March 4, 2008 

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The ball that Brett Farve threw on his last play in the NFL is owned by an Army officer who lost both legs in a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who has been an inspirational figure for the New York Giants during their Super Bowl run, was given the ball by Corey Webster after the cornerback intercepted Favre’s pass in overtime in the NFC title game on Jan. 20.

The pick set up a game-winning 47-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes in a 23-20 win that sent the Giants to Phoenix, where they beat the New England Patriots 17-14.

“That Saturday practice before the Super Bowl, I told Corey he could have the ball back,” Gadson said in quotes provided by the Giants after Favre announced his retirement on Tuesday after 17 seasons.

“I said, ‘Just let me know and you can have it back,’ but he told me that he wanted me to keep it, and that really symbolized to me what this Giants team was about,” Gadson said. “That was such an unselfish act.”

As a fan, Gadson said he is going to miss watching Favre play.

“He should be proud of the run he had last season. Getting his team to the championship game just shows what type of competitor he is,” Gadson said.

A 1989 graduate of West Point, Gadson played football for the Cadets along with Mike Sullivan, the Giants’ receivers coach.

After Gadson was wounded in an attack on his convoy on May 7 and eventually lost both his legs, Sullivan told coach Tom Coughlin about his friend.

After losing their first two games of the season, Coughlin had Gadson address the team in Washington before a game with the Redskins. His message was to concentrate on the mission, never give up and believe in each other.

The Giants won the game and turned their season around. Gadson was on the sidelines for most of the playoffs and he addressed the team the night before the Super Bowl, speaking of “pride, poise, team and belief in each other,” according to Pat Hanlon, a team spokesman.


Supporting the Troops

March 1, 2008

I have been AWOL… (is there such a thing as Official Leave for Civilians?) Perhaps a better term would be AWOB… Absent With Out Blogging. Rather than go into a boring list of reasons, I will attempt to jump back into this.

Today I am sharing a fantastic email from my Favorite Marine: 

Have you ever walk into a room and immediately felt an enormous energy field?  It happened to me about 2 weeks ago. 

I walked into the fitness center in my building and there were 2 people in there; one of the condo owners and the other a petite blond I had never seen before.

The gentleman said, “Speaking of Marines,” as he nodded toward me.  The conversation started going 100 mph from that point on.  One of the first things said was that Dianne was from Berkley, CA – that’s what I thought I heard and we all rolled our eyes because of the protests going on at the campus concerning Marines. 

In reality, she’s from Tampa.  With me asking a few questions I found out a truly amazing thing about Dianne.

The Berkley connection was that she was so outraged over the protests that she got on a plane, by herself, and flew there for the sole purpose to take these people on single-handedly and to tell them to leave “her” Marines alone! 

She even got 2 of them arrested when they spray painted her (followed by her macing them)!! 

What I misunderstood about her living there was that she had just returned from that trip. 

I had an immediate respect and awe for Dianne.  I don’t know of anyone who would do something like this.  I asked her why she had this passion – what was her Marine connection. 

She kept alluding to “her” Marines – the tens of thousands of them in Iraq and Afghanistan; that she doesn’t want anyone “slamming” them, etc. 

Like many of my friends, Dianne started collecting goodies and mailing them to Marines a few years ago when the war started.  One thing led to another and soon all her waking hours were consumed with collecting and mailing packages and she was soon spending well over $2,000 of her own money, per month, to do this.  She didn’t care. 

Oh, and Dianne is a personal fitness trainer who started her own successful business and employs 10 trainers.  Her friends and the local businesses finally convinced her to start a non-profit organization to help her with the financial strain. 

Support our Marines was born on November 10, 2007 – picked because of the birthday of the Marine Corps

What many of you may not know is that more and more Marines are living further away from the main bases so they have less access to buy even the basics than they did 2 years ago.  We have learned that to be successful in this war, we need to get closer to the local population. 

Marines do not complain and we do what is necessary.  We always adapt.  Because of the greater sacrifices expected of the units, packages from home mean all that much more, now. 

“Most of our Marines operate out of very isolated combat outpost and under some of the harshest conditions. No hot water, we use things like WAG bags for our waste, we use plywood built outhouse and sleep in some of the worst buildings and conditions. But on the other hand (some) of our Marines live and operate in conditions that are better than some but worse than most. Overall though, we are determined and committed to accomplishing our missions out here. No matter what the conditions are we will do our jobs as Marines!” Quote from a sergeant with TF 3/2. 

Of course all of these Marines (in AFG and Iraq) are in the U.S. Marine Forces Central Command’s (MARCENT) area of responsibility, (so they are even more near and dear to my heart because I work at MARCENT). 

I wanted you to know about this wonderful woman and what she is doing. 

Please feel free to pass on this email and introduce Dianne to others, too!

Sharon 

Support Our Marines

Sending a wave and a hug to Dianne. We understand why you stands up and fights for “your Marines”… as many of us have also adopted those in the military past and present. The brave men and women, who fight for us, have all become members of our extended family.


Incredible Story from Iraq

January 14, 2008

Debbie Lee and our Troops in Iraq

Iraq’s Progress, Safety and Blessing

Darkness surrounded her as the helicopter lifted, whipping the air around her with a reverberating thump, thump, thump. A tall blonde in a war-torn Middle Eastern land, Debbie Lee felt a familiar ache in her heart.

She stood in a Western Iraqi city where her son, Marc Alan Lee, gave his life. He was the first Navy SEAL to die while fighting terrorists in Iraq.

As she stepped onto the sand where her son was killed, Debbie Lee became the first mother to visit the city where her son died for America in the Iraq War. She walked through Camp Marc Lee and saw where her son slept and ate. “I feel very blessed,” Lee said. “It was a miracle to me to be where Marc was, to see what he saw and walk where he walked.”Please read the rest of the story here:  Human Events


Heroes Overcoming Obstacles

November 29, 2007

Limits are placed on us by Science, by Medicine, by our Parents, by our Teachers, and by our Peers. We are told that we can only go so far. Perhaps they are trying to force us to face facts. Perhaps they are trying to help us… Or perhaps they are clueless as to the inner strengths that guide each individual, pushing us to unbelievable feats.

My brother, born with birth defects was told he would never walk. He is now running marathons.

Jim Abbott, who pitched for 9 years in Major League Baseball, was born with only one hand.

… And the two Heroes listed below ~

 

Charlotte (N.C.) News & Observer
Nov. 20, 2007

Injured Marine cited as leader
By Jay Price

Three years ago this week, Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell was discharged from the hospital, wondering how much he was going to recover from a major head injury he suffered when a mortar shell landed on his tent in Iraq.

Now Esquire magazine is honoring the Marine as one of the “Best and Brightest of 2007” in its December issue, which appears on newsstands today.

The accompanying article isn’t just about Maxwell, who has become a legend at Camp Lejeune. It also offers a raw, R-rated glimpse of life inside the Wounded Warrior Barracks on the Marine base near Jacksonville.

Maxwell, 42, helped start the barracks after he was wounded. One day, after being released from the hospital and returning to Lejeune to recuperate, the former triathlete came upon a Marine who had been wounded and sent home.

The young man was alone and crying.That shouldn’t happen, Maxwell said, and he and Master Sgt. Ken Barnes started lobbying Marine leaders for housing so the wounded Marines could live together while they recovered in a supportive environment.

Concept expands
 

After they got the barracks started at Lejeune — it’s called Maxwell Hall– the concept spread to the West Coast, where the Marines at Camp Pendleton set up similar housing. Then this past spring, the Corps decided to start a nationwide wounded-warrior regiment, so that injured Marines would have a supportive unit around them.

The idea even spread to the Army, which has begun its own wounded-troops unit. Maxwell recently took an assignment as an adviser to the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. 

Among other duties, he’s the officer in charge of the regiment’s new call center, which opens this week. The center will take calls from wounded Marines and try to find solutions to their problems, Maxwell said.  It also will begin an effort to contact every Marine who has been injured since Sept. 11, 2001, in combat or otherwise, to see if he or she needs help of any kind.

The story in Esquire also includes Maxwell’s wife, Shannon, who has dedicated much of her own life to helping wounded troops. She founded a support group at Lejeune for the spouses of wounded Marines and was a co-founder of Hope for the Warriors, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the wounded. Last week, she won an honor for her work from the National Military Family Association. ‘I don’t know why…’

The Esquire story also details the lives of the young Marines living in the barracks.  Maxwell said that he could have done without the sexual references but that the attention would help his cause.“I’ll take credit from anybody to put the word out,” said Maxwell, who still stumbles over his words sometimes.

“There are still guys out there who don’t know anything about this, and they’re just sitting there alone. “Reporters will call and want to do a Maxwell story because I’m the most well-known,” he said. “We get ’em out to the barracks, and they cry when they leave. It really gets them.”

Maxwell said he was a little bewildered that he had been picked by the magazine. “Esquire had this dinner up in New York last week, and I don’t know why I was a part of it,” he said. “They had all these geniuses there, people who had invented important stuff. “I just figured Marines ought to hang out together,” he said. “That’s not genius stuff.”


Well, Lt. Col Maxwell I disagree with you. What you are doing places you above “Genius Stuff.”
Not to take anything away from Lt Col Maxwell, I would like to point out a new friend, Craig J. Phillips.Craig is also a survivor and a hero!  While overcoming great obstacles, he is reaching out and helping others.

Second Chance to Live  <– Please take some time and read about this wonderful man. He has succeeded in a world that decided his disabilty should limit him.  I will share the comments that Craig left for me: I am interested in providing encouragement to our veterans and the soldiers who have been wounded while protecting our great country. Additionally, I am interested in providing practical information and insight to assist their families.

My name is Craig J. Phillips. I am a traumatic brain injury survivor and a master’s level rehabilitation counselor. I sustained an open skull fracture with right frontal lobe damage and remained in a coma for 3 weeks at the age of 10 in August of 1967.

I underwent brain and skull surgery after waking from the coma. Follow-up cognitive and psyche-social testing revealed that I would not be able to succeed beyond high school. In 1967 Neurological Rehabilitation was not available to me, so I had to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences. I completed high school on time and went on to obtain both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

For an in depth view of my process please read my post, My Journey Thus Far Through out my lifetime I developed strategies to overcome many obstacles and in so doing I have achieved far beyond all reasonable expectations.

On February 6, 2007 at the encouragement of a friend I created Second Chance to Live.Second Chance to Live, which is located at Second Chance to Live presents topics in such a way to encourage, motivate and empower the reader to live life on life’s terms.

I believe our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up. As a traumatic brain injury survivor, I speak from my experience, strength and hope. As a professional, I provide information to encourage, motivate and empower both disabled and non-disabled individuals to not give up on their process. Please read my post, The Power of Identification My interest is to provide encouragement, hope, motivation and empowerment to veterans and their families.

Thank you for your time and kindness.
Have a simply phenomenal day!
Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
Second Chance to Live

Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up!

I believe peoples paths cross for a reason and that Craig stumbling onto my web site was no accident. Please pass on his links to those who are searching for help with Brain Trama. Having not only survived, but pushing to excel in life gives us a glimpse into the strengths that Craig carries. 

Two more fantastic sites to check out: Wounded Warrior Project and Life Transformed  If you have additional sites for our wounded Heroes, please post them in the comments and I will add them to my side bar.


A 4-9 Trooper wearing the Black and White!

November 6, 2007

I love the following story as it combines two of my passions; our Warriors and Sports!

Back in the day (way back) -D I too wore stripes. Although I never made it past highschool officiating, I have no regrets. Now I am content to sit back and moan about the missed calls from my livingroom.

Best of luck to you Sir. We look forward to watching you in the NBA (and booing when you call a foul on Jason Kidd!)

Cavalry Sergeant has sights set on NBA
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO
            FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – Of the hundreds of rooms inside the main palace on Forward Operating Base Prosperity, there is one in particular, a room that emits that kind of sound that sounds like muffled club-like music just before you enter.

            The sign outside the door reads, “Boom Boom Room.”  In fact, it’s merely a supply room, but it’s considered one of the best in the brigade. It’s the best because the person who runs it says it’s the best, and he says it the loudest.

            Staff Sgt. Jessie L. Jackson Jr., the supply sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is that guy who travels with an entourage of Sgts. Antwan Wilmont and Jason Shriner, and Pfc. David Pough, everywhere he goes. Though his 6-foot-5 frame is striking, it stands subordinate to his ability to make heads turn as his voice carries itself throughout whatever room he is in.

            “People say, ‘Sergeant Jack might be loud, but he’ll help us,’” said Jackson. “I look at my blessings. If I give to others, I get it back tenfold.”

            During his deployment, Jackson has been spending almost every night officiating FOB Prosperity’s intramural flag football games, but with all his achievements on and off the field, he’s learned that all the guidance and advice he’s been given through many of the contacts in his vast network of family, friends and colleagues is starting to pay off.

            “When people started looking at me, people said I looked like an NFL official,” he said. “1st. Sgt. Patrick made me the head official; he gave me a rule book.”

            He was asked to help out when 1st Sgt. Kenneth Patrick, Co. E, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, saw him as a basketball referee, and what began is possibly a new career path for Jackson.

            Growing up in Shreveport, La., Jackson spent almost his entire life surrounded by basketball. While attending Captain Shreve High School, in Shreveport, he and his team won the Louisiana State High School basketball championship. His talents on the court took him to Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where he played on their basketball team as a small forward. Yet, it wasn’t long until he succumbed to life on the streets.

            After only a semester at LSU-Shreveport, he quickly found himself in a courtroom rather than a basketball court.

            “I was in jail for 30 days waiting on my court date,” he recounted. “The judge gave me a choice to join the military or go to prison. So, at 17 years old, my parents went with me to the Marine Corps recruiting station; that’s how my military career started.”

            As a Marine, he was also in the supply world. He spent some of that time playing on the All-Marine Basketball Team, but after eight years, he left as a corporal and decided to transition into the Army.

            He arrived at Fort Hood, Texas in 2001 and started as a supply clerk with 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, which was then a 2nd BCT battalion.

            “As a young clerk, he had a busy supply room there,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick Jones, 4-9 Cav.’s S-4 Logisitics noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “He was just the loud guy in the corner. He wasn’t as knowledgeable in supply as he should have been at that time.”

            When Jones, of Longview, Texas, first came to the squadron, Jackson had just been promoted to sergeant, and he felt that, although Jackson had the potential, he wasn’t working to his full capacity. So, he challenged him, just as he did with his other supply clerks. Jackson gives much of the credit to his success to Jones and said the most important thing he learned was how to prioritize.

            “When I first arrived to the unit, there was a bunch of supply NCOs who didn’t care. I’m not going to lie, I was one of them,” admits Jackson. “I have to give credit to my … ‘circle of trust’ … like Sergeant First Class (Kendrick) Jones.’

            ‘He would tell us, if you want to stand up above the rest, here’s what you have to do. He would give us sergeant’s time [training] and quiz us – make us go back to the regs (regulations).”

            Jackson, who refers to Jones as his mentor, calls him the “king” because of his experience and knowledge of not only the supply realm but also the countless life lessons he’s passed onto him.

            “He taught me everything I know about supply,” Jackson said. “He took me from a line unit and sent me to the ‘beast:’ HHT; it’s a beast because of the countless, countless hours.”

            Jones, who is on his way to retiring, said that today, Jackson is one of their best supply sergeants, and that he sees the mentoring and guidance he’s passing onto other supply clerk in the squadron and around the brigade.

            “He’s one of our top guys – I mean, all my guys are sharp. He’s a mentor; a lot go to him for help,” Jones said. “He’s got a lot of the young Soldiers around him; they are supply sergeants and clerks. They look at him as a mentor – the same thing I did with him, he does with them. I didn’t know if he was listening, but now he says, ‘hey Sergeant Jones, I remember you saying this …’ He’s come a long way, and he recognized that.”

            Jackson is the first to say that he has in fact come a long way — not only in the military but more importantly in life. 

            His fast living days have all been a thing of the past since the birth of his son. He claims that more than anything, he wants to be not only a father-figure in his son’s life but a daddy.

            “My son was a big reason I turned a 180,” he said. “I live for him. Everything I do is for him. I don’t want him to experience what I had to.”

            Through Jackson’s life experiences, he has come to the point where he said his goals are not only attainable, but that he’s doing everything in his power to reach for them.

            Although he is working on his personal goals, he can never really escape his upbringing of wanting to help others.

            Growing up with five other siblings taught him to take care of others. His upbringing was received from a former Marine Corps first sergeant in his father. Something he describes as very “strict.”

            “My father ruled with an iron fist,” he said. “He was very strict, but he was very compassionate.”

            Though, the life lessons preached to his son wouldn’t really be practiced until later on in life, Jackson finally adopted his father’s sayings as his own philosophy in how he deals with people in his life now.

            “When I was growing up, my father had a saying. My father said, ‘if you want to gain anything, you have to give,’” he said. “People say, ‘why can we rely on you?’ I never know when I’ll need something.”

            Jackson spends most of his time giving back to the Soldiers through both his day, as a supply sergeant, and his night job as a referee. Although Jackson has spent most of his time as a flag football referee, he hopes to move up to the NBA as basketball is his first love.

            Upon his return to Texas, where he and his 8-year-old son Jessie III call home now, he plans on going to a sporting official seminar in Austin. Since he’s already taken his certification test online and received his license to call games, he’s a step closer to meeting his goal of taking on high school basketball games, but for now, he’s happy just giving his time as the “ref,” as he loves to be called, out on a dusty piece of real estate Soldiers play football on.

            “I’d like to take it as far as I can go. My goal is trying to get to the NBA,” he said. “For now, I change and go out to the games because I know how important sports are to these Soldiers.”


Shreveport, La., native Staff Sgt. Jessie Jackson Jr., Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division of Shreveport, La., officiates a flag football game at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)


Staff Sgt. Jessie Jackson Jr., Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division of Shreveport, La., officiates a flag football game at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)


Shreveport, La., native Staff Sgt. Jessie Jackson Jr. (right), Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, helps Philadelphia native Sgt. 1st Class James Brown, also from HHT, 4-9 Cav., with a hand receipt in the “Boom Boom Room” on Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)