Honoring Those Who Serve

Ok, today I am featuring another blog here, if only because it features one of the best lil’ brothers a gal could have. Jeremy’s brother Jordan joined the Air Force not too long after we got married and has become, in our opinion, one of the best examples of a man dedicated to honor and protect his country. Last week he was awarded several medals, two of which were a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star of Valor. Below I have included Amy Ballard’s photography blog which featured the event. Further down, I’ve included the piece written on Jordan by the Air Force, along with a video.

 

with valor

by Amy

i have been a military wife for almost seven years now.  i can’t say i have seen it all, i can’t say i know the ropes, but i can say i have met more than a few heroes in my day.  the real kind.  not the hero that we joke about who returned a lost wallet or held the door for a waddling pregnant women…a real hero.  like the kind my son is named after.  like this man i had the privilege of meeting on thursday.  his name is jordan and he is amazing.

these medals, the awards…my first experience wasn’t the best.  one of my husbands closest friendsreceived a few awards and honors.  at his funeral.  it was awful and awesome all at the same time.  meandering between feelings of patriotism and anger, i watched as his wife, and my dear friend, received his medals with a stoic look painted across her face.  if i was being honest, i was mad.  not at anyone in particular…just mad.  no colored ribbons or metal plates of any amount of greatness could ever be good enough to replace our friend.  i almost wanted to yell “keep your stupid award.  this doesn’t equal Jonah!” but i know that was not the intent.  i know these awards are saved for the best, the bravest, the one’s who sacrifice the most.  those men and women who truly deserve it.  like jonah did then and like jordan did this past week.

jordan did some pretty amazing things!  CRAZY amazing things really.  please take a minute to read about them here.  basically, he was injured in the line of fire, he continued to fight with a clear head and helped keep the rest of his guys safe.  multiple times.  meeting him, shaking his hand, talking with him and seeing his pictures on facebook, you would never guess what he has been through.  there always seems to be a crazy big smile on his face.  and now he is a highly decorated, smiling fool!

he received four military medals of achievement that day.  most notable the purple heart and the bronze star of valor (4th highest achievement award the military gives).  his proud wife and family, along with a packed room of fellow service members, watched and cheered as he was given each one.  this…this made me forget all about the sad awards ceremony i had first known.

his wife and family also had a beautiful plaque made for him with his medals, patches, and deployment details mounted beautifully alongside amazing artwork.

three other heroes received awards that day.  i felt so very aware of sacrifices made.  i felt so very aware of my freedom, of our country’s freedom.  here we are, in this small room, thanking some of the men that protect us and keep us safe at times when we aren’t even thinking about them.  i wanted television crews and newspapers and the president himself to be there, to see this, to thank them.  but it was just us.  the other service men and women, the airmen, the soldiers, the family members and me, with my camera.  it is so easy to forget that there are people around the world, fighting daily to keep us safe from groups and evils that we don’t even realize exist.  so easy to forget the many lives lost or slowed down.  the many rooms around this country with wives being handed their dead husband’s achievements or service members being applauded for their good work.  it is so easy to forget to say thank you.  it really shouldn’t be.

jordan and carly’s family flew out, drove out…basically all made sure they were here for this big day.  he had his own cheer squad, his loving wife and a whole bunch a people that just wanted to hug him, shake his hand and thank him for a job well done.  with way to much food, they laughed and chatted and enjoyed each other’s company…just they way they should.  i loved it.  i loved watching them all.  carly, so proud of her man and jordan, so humble and kind.

thank you jordan and carly.  thank you both for your service and your sacrifice and your inviting me into your lives.  thank you for helping balance out my views of awards and medals, for showing me the happy side of this and for ensuring my freedom over here while you have fought over there.  there aren’t enough words to thank you.  even still…thank you.  you are a true hero jordan and i am humbled and honored to have met you and to now say that we are facebook friends.  😉  thank you for all that you have done and for all you will continue to do.  thank you.

For Amy’s site: http://www.amybphotography.com/blog/

 

From Portraits in Courage, Vol VI.          http://www.af.mil/specials/courage/03jakubowski.html

In August 2010, Staff Sergeant Jordan Jakubowski deployed to Afghanistan to serve as the primary Joint Terminal Attack Controller for the International Security Assistance Force Commander in Afghanistan. His job was to direct airstrikes against known enemies. During his deployment, Sergeant Jakubowski conducted 22 separate missions, ten of which were associated with firefights lasting more than 24 hours each.

Two of those missions are indelibly etched into his mind.

On September 16, Sergeant Jakubowski’s assault force was engaged by the enemy when a rocketpropelled grenade landed on his team’s position. He was struck in the hand and leg by shrapnel, and two other members of his team were wounded. Despite his injuries, he continued to call in airstrikes against the enemy; nonetheless, they continued to advance. Sergeant Jakubowski engaged the enemy with his M-4 assault rifle while simultaneously controlling multiple Air Force A-10 Warthog attacks via the radio. With the pressing need for medical evacuation, Sergeant Jakubowski skillfully established a medical evacuation landing zone. His ability to multitask in extreme circumstances while injured kept the enemy from overrunning his team’s position, helped save the lives of three soldiers, and in part accounted for the neutralization of 33 enemy combatants.

Just two weeks later, Sergeant Jakubowski and his team came under enemy attack yet again. A mortar landed inside his team’s compound, killing one soldier and wounding 10 others. Despite the mass casualty situation, Sergeant Jakubowski remained calm, calling in airstrikes that included the dropping of multiple 2,000 pound bombs within “danger close” parameters of his team. With the cover of air support, he once again established a MEDEVAC landing zone. Over the course of this 30-hour fight, 35 insurgents were killed by close air support, due in large part to Sergeant Jakubowski’s skills as a JTAC.

Throughout his deployment, Sergeant Jakubowski displayed courage under fire numerous times. His focus and technical expertise helped clear enemy-held territory in both southern and northern Afghanistan. For his heroic efforts he was awarded the Purple Heart, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and was nominated for the Bronze Star with Valor.

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