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    Oregon National Guard Sgt. Maj. awarded for work in support of servicemembers and their families

    Oregon National Guard Sgt. Maj. awarded for work in support of servicemembers and their families

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Cory Grogan | Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Vinnie Jacques (right), Senior Enlisted Advisor...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Cory Grogan 

    41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    Taking care of Soldiers has always been a priority for Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Vinnie Jacques, Senior Enlisted Advisor to Joint Domestic Operations Commander, whose 28-year career includes an inspiring comeback after he was severely wounded in combat. He deployed with one of the most highly decorated units in Oregon National Guard history, the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment (2-162). The 2-162nd Infantry Battalion saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq War in the Sunni Triangle, where Jacques was wounded in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack, suffering injuries that included a broken neck, third-degree burns, a broken femur and shrapnel wounds on the majority of his body. The attack took the life of his vehicle driver, Kenny Leisten, and severely wounded the gunner, Benjamin Ring.

    On that fateful day, retired Sgt. Marty Theurer, a firefighter and paramedic currently living in Prineville, Oregon, was in the three-vehicle element with Jacques doing reconnaissance and sector patrol. Theurer said he was in the first vehicle, and that his vehicle had driven over the same IED that detonated violently two vehicles later.

    “We were headed to the FOB [Forward Operating Base] when I heard a loud explosion and immediately knew they were hit,” Theurer said. “I slammed on the breaks, did a U-turn and saw things falling out of the sky. It was very surreal, like nothing I could even imagine in a movie as we pulled up to them.”

    While Jacques said he feared he may lose his life, Theurer said his spirit never broke during the attack, or the comeback he would go on to make afterward.

    “We knew it was bad but immediately we knew what to do thanks to Vince holding us to a higher standard and all the training we had done. We learned a lot from Vince and he expects a lot from his Soldiers,” Theurer added.

    He said it was not long before Black Hawk helicopters came to the aid of the wounded Soldiers, and those responding who used the training Jacques had engrained in them to help him and the other Soldiers who were wounded. Jacques refused to dwell in his own pain, selflessly thinking of his Soldiers who were also wounded, and his family according to Theurer.

    Theurer said Jacques grabbed him by his collar almost pulling him nose to nose and said, “Tell my boy I love him.” With emotion Theurer said that he responded, “You’re going to tell him yourself.” The next thing Theurer said Jacques told him was, “Make sure everyone gets on the bird before me.”

    “That’s the Vinnie I know and love. Even lying there in pain he was thinking about others. That’s at the heart of who Vinnie is and what he has always been about,” Theurer said.

    After being loaded on the helicopter last and barely surviving, Jacques made a miraculous comeback. Jacques followed a yearlong recovery, that he describes as very difficult in many ways, by deploying with his unit to provide relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the same day he was cleared to leave the hospital.

    Jacques went on to become the chief instructor combat arms battalion for the Oregon Army National Guard’s 249th Regional Training Institute, to support the training of 25,000 troops for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI); to graduate Mountain Warfare School on the Commandants List; became one of the first three E-9’s selected from the military to attend the Joint Commanders Training Course conducted at NORTHCOM; received a four-year degree; and created the first and only Joint Reintegration program in the United States consisting of all branches of military service.

    For Jacques, the idea of having a joint service reintegration program started during his recovery, when Jacques noticed how hard it was for Ring to receive the proper treatment for a badly wounded hand. Jacques added that he also noticed other Soldiers were having trouble getting the help they needed. So in 2005, Jacques worked with others to see what could be done at home, and started to shape a program called the Oregon National Guard Joint Transition Assistance Program (ORNG JTAP).

    The ORNG JTAP served service members and their families who demobilized back to Oregon after deployment. In Oregon, there is no military base with the resources active duty service members and families normally have access to. The ORNG JTAP became a national model for helping service members and their families with employment, health care and education in a similar way to the nationwide Yellow Ribbon Program it helped to inspire.

    Along his journey, Jacques met Suzanne Delaurentiis, a Hollywood film producer and advocate for Veterans. Delaurentiis received the Oregon National Guard Commendation Medal in 2010 for giving countless hours of support to the mental and financial well being of Veterans. The award is rarely given to civilians who are recognized for their significant and meritorious achievement.

    “My interest in these Soldiers has always been about the job they do and how they put their lives on the line for freedom and democracy,” Delaurentiis said when she received the award. “It’s all about brave men and women in uniform and that included firefighters, police officers and others who do what they do to serve others.”

    Delaurentiis said that while receiving the medal is one of her greatest achievements, that it is more important to recognize Veterans for the work they do.

    “I make movies, and the men and women of our military make it possible for me to do what I do for a living, so it is important to support them and recognize their sacrifice,” she said.

    Jacques received the “Hero Award” along with three other Veterans at a gala event sponsored by Suzanne DeLaurentiis Productions at the InterContinental Hotel in Burbank, California, that focused on recognizing Veterans. Other well deserving recipients of the award were Vietnam Veteran Clyde “George” Lines, who took heroic action to help others while wounded; Maj. Lynette Jones, who has helped develop programs in support of female Veterans; and Staff Sgt. Paul Supp, who risked his life to save another in Afghanistan. Jacques insisted he would not accept the award on behalf of himself, but rather those who support Veterans, families of Veterans, and those he has served with who (in some cases) paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    “This award is for you. Thanks for supporting us,” Jacques said to the audience. “I am also accepting it on behalf of my brothers and sisters – this award is not about me, it’s about them.”



    Date Taken: 03.03.2018
    Date Posted: 03.14.2018 20:00
    Story ID: 269429
    Location: OR, US

    Web Views: 499
    Downloads: 0