Hopkins County Veterans Memorial
Hopkins County Veterans Memorial
Jason’s Military Service
I joined the Army on November 29th, 1995 and began my services with Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, SC. After graduation, I was sent to Ft. Gordon, GA for my Military Occupation Training, which was Signal or Communications. I completed training in May and was sent to my first duty station in Ft. Carson, CO. I was very happy to be sent there considering all the others within my class were mostly sent to Korea. I dodged a bullet! LOL!
I spent a year at Ft. Carson before receiving orders to go to Larson Barracks, Kitzigen, Germany. I was stationed in Germany for 3 years, Oct 1997- Aug 2000. I loved every minute of it. We spent most of our time in the field, training. When we were not training, I traveled around Germany and saw a lot of the old castles and villages. One of my favorite events I experienced while there was the Wine Fests. Every little town would have one, and everybody had a great time eating and drinking together out in the streets or along the rivers. I danced on many picnic tables.
My most fond memory was when I participated in the 100 mile march in Nijmegen, Holland with a team of 14 other soldiers. It was one of the biggest parties I had ever attended. The entire town was alive and jumping every single night. We would hang out until midnight then be up by 5 A.M. ready to march 25 miles each day. They housed all military personnel in an area made up of mostly tents. At the entrance of our housing area, there was a big circus tent that had beer taps lining the walls. We would end our march everyday around 3 P.M. inside that tent. We would drop our rucks and hang out with soldiers from every country. There were thousands of troops from all over the world. Most of us would trade items with the others to have as a momento. I was approached by a British soldier who asked if I wanted to trade headgear. I started to remove mine in order to make the trade and was interrupted by one of his fellow “Mates” who asked me, “When is the U.S. ‘s birthday?” I looked stunned and confused. He asked the question again, “When is your country’s birthday?” To which I replied “The 4th of July!” He said, “Right, that’s when you could no longer wear the crown on your head!” He said this while pointing at the crown emblem on his head gear. I laughed and said, “Yep, thanks for reminding me, Mate!” Then we parted ways.
Upon completion of my service with the Army, I was given the option to go straight into the Texas National Guard. This offered me a little extra money each month and would increase the amount of tuition assistance I would receive through the GI Bill. I signed up for 6 years. I got stationed with a unit in Irving, TX. I was there from Aug 2000 – May 2005. It was during that time that I received orders for deployment to Iraq. I had just gotten married to my beautiful wife, Samantha. My unit even tried to stop me from going on my honeymoon. Fortunately, they allowed me to report after I returned. Then I spent 6 months at Ft. Hood where we trained before we deployed. We arrived in Iraq around Thanksgiving 2005. My main unit was based out of Camp Speicher,Tikrit. I was sent to Patrol Base Razor, right outside of Samarra, which was a little bigger than a football field and housed about 80 of us troops. We got one hot meal a day and were very thankful for that knowing that the troops that brought it to us were risking their lives every time. The rest of the time we survived on hot pockets and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
We grew accustomed to the rocket fire and mortar fire every other Thursday around the same time each day. Very few of their rounds ever made it inside of our compound. During the 8 months that I was at that location, our infantry had taken out 3 different enemy mortar teams. We would have peace for about 3 weeks and then someone else would take their place.
At our base, we housed a small medical team. They stayed busy day in and day out working on all casualties. It did not matter if it was US soldiers, the Iraqi coalition, or local nationals that were injured during fire fights. They took care of them all. Each of us had first aid training, and we were able to put our training into practice by assisting them. I was eager to learn and help each time the ambulance brought someone in. Being in a combat situation changes your entire mindset. I settled into everyday life there and did not think twice about why I was there or how long I would be there. Each day, I was able to talk to my wife because I was in charge of the communications. Just hearing her voice made my day.
While I was in Iraq, my service time was nearing an end. I had the opportunity to re-enlist while I was there. It was amazing getting to raise my right hand while in full battle dress, and holding the SAW 249 weapon in the other. I will never forget the feeling of pride as the American flag was held by a couple of fellow soldiers in the background. I signed up for another 6 years, so that I would be in for 16 total. At the end of my tour, I was awarded the Bronze Star for going above and beyond the scope of my duty, saving lives each and every day.
I returned home Thanksgiving 2006 and was happy to be back on US soil. I had received a promotion while I was in Iraq and planned to attend a military school to complete that promotion. I had returned to Ft. Gordon, GA to learn more leadership skills when I snapped my left femur during training. After recovering from that injury, I was unable to be deployed…even though the Army tried to send me 2 more times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. I was able to compete 22 years all together in the service and medically retired in Oct, 2017. All in all, I loved and cherished all the time spent with other soldiers and serving our country. “It was an honor to serve!”
Today, I enjoy being a part of the Veterans Community in Hopkins County, TX. I am currently serving on the Hopkins County Veterans Memorial board. My wife and I are volunteers on the Freedom Ball committee. This committee hosts a Military Ball each year that raises money for the Hopkins County Veterans Memorial. The funds raised are used for the upkeep of the memorial as well as supporting the effort to have all Hopkins County Veterans recognized for their service by having their name listed at the memorial. I am also a member of the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). We love that our community shares our passion in supporting our local veterans.
Thank you for reading a little about me.