I have worked with SFC Phillip "Vinni" Jacques in Oregon, within the same unit that he served in Iraq (when I joined the Volunteers of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, Jacques had already returned home after having sustained serious injuries in combat when an IED hit his vehicle, killing his driver), in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina where he led a platoon in the recovery efforts of a flooded and decrepit section of the city, and now in Rajendrapur, Bangladesh, where we are deployed to assist in the training, evaluation and mentoring of Soldiers from ten nations across the South Asian subcontinent (and where, a Ranger to the end, he has developed a great relationship with the Ghurka Rifles of Northern India).
One of the most professional Soldiers I have ever worked with, "Sergeant Jacques" is the type of NCO that spends his evenings reading SOPs and his omnipresent Ranger Handbook, in an effort to constantly improve his knowledge and expertise in the techniques, tactics and procedures that will serve him and his Soldiers on and off the battlefield.
This afternoon, in a brief repasse from the lane evaluation and mentoring that he has been running, he shared a story that showed another role he meets with total commitment, that of being the Father of three children. In the wake of last summer's hit movie "Transformers," Jacques' eldest son, told him in the morning following the film, "Dad, I think Bumblebee was knocking on my window last night." A fantastic image of the creative imagination of a seven year old. "Son, we need to talk," Vinni repliled. Sitting his son down, Jacques told him, "Son, I have a confession to make, that wasn't Bumblebee. It was my truck. Because my truck is a Transformer." "Really Dad? What is his name," asked his son with the faith and total belief that only a child can offer the counsel of his loving parents. "Well his name is Suppositor, because he is such a pain in my rear end," he explained.
This was received with joyous rapture of a boy who realized he had a transformer acountable to his father. He immediately ran through the house, "Grandma, Dad's truck is a Transformer and his name is Suppositor because he is such a pain in Dad's rear end!"
"Mom, Dad's truck is a Transformer and his name is Suppositor because he is such a pain in Dad's rear end!"
This from the same professional Non Commissioned Officer that helped to stand up, alongside retired Colonel Scott McCrae (our former Chief of Personnel who, only months before his retirement lost his son in an IED attack in Operation Iraqi Freedom), the Oregon Reintegration Team for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to assist them with the challenges they need, whether counselling, career assistance, educational benefits or just someone to talk to. Explaining this to a visiting Lt. Col. from the U.S. State Department while handing him a tri-fold program explaining the Reintegration Team, Jacques offered, "Sir, Soldiers can call this 1-800 number 24 hours a day and we guarantee that one of us will answer it anytime. We maintain it like a staff duty line, so that Soldiers will get an answer no matter when they call. We figure it is at least something that we can do directly to help those that gave themselves completely to defend their nation."
(Side note: we have just learned today that in the wake of the excellence acomplished by the Oregon Reintegration Team, the National Guard Bureau has directed that all states and territories stand up similar programs out of the State headquarters)
it is yet another example of the type of Soldier serving, like the Ranger creed he adheres to everyday, "One Hundred per cent and then some." It is a great privilege to work with such an extraordinary leader and to know and work with such a great man.
Rangers Lead The Way!