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Walter Bryan Jackson Jr.

U.S. Army / Distinguished Service Cross

Soldier puts others’ safety above his own despite being shot multiple times

When Bryan Jackson came to, his hand and thigh were bleeding profusely. The soldier next to him, however, was in even worse shape, and bullets were still flying in every direction.

Jackson — then a 23-year-old second lieutenant and only a year out of West Point — and his unit had been dispatched Sept. 27, 2006, to find insurgents who had launched a haphazard mortar attack against an American outpost in the Anbar Province of western Iraq.

“We were rounding up a couple of detainees who we thought were responsible for attacking that base,” Jackson recalls, “and as we were about to pull away from the house where we found them, one of our Humvees became stuck in the mud.”

Capt. Eric Stainbrook and some others from Jackson’s unit, Company A, Task Force 1-36 IN, dismounted from their vehicles and set up a defensive perimeter while other soldiers worked to free the Humvee.

They were sitting ducks when more insurgents ambushed them from a hidden position. Stainbrook and 1st Sgt. David Sapp went down.

“My first reaction was to take cover,” Jackson remembers. “From there, everything happened very quickly, and became a blur.” After that, much of Jackson’s memory of the day comes from what other soldiers who witnessed his actions have told him.

Either by instinct, training or some combination, Jackson ran across the road through enemy fire to help Sapp, bandaging his wounds. He also started to return fire in the enemy’s direction.

A minute later, bullets ripped through Jackson’s hand and thigh, and everything went black.

When he regained consciousness, Jackson ignored his wounds and resumed firing at the enemy position until he emptied his magazine. The injury to his hand and loss of blood made it impossible to re-load, so he turned his attention back to Sapp, again trying to slow the bleeding.

Meanwhile, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Newlin took charge, directing fire from a nearby Bradley Fighting Vehicle and ordering other soldiers to assist Jackson in evacuating their wounded comrades.

“At that point, nobody knew that I was injured,” Jackson recalls. “I knew I was hurt, but I also knew I had to help evacuate First Sergeant Sapp.”

Jackson summoned his strength to get to his feet and helped carry Sapp to the Bradley. Incredibly, he kept going, after being shot again on the way to the vehicle.

Inside the Bradley, a medic immediately began working on the Sapp. When the medic noticed that Jackson, too, had been severely wounded, Jackson told him not to worry about him and to concentrate on stabilizing Sapp, who would survive. Not until his comrades were treated did the half-conscious Jackson allow himself to be given aid.

Jackson was evacuated and sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he spent a year in recovery. On November 2, 2007, he became only the seventh soldier of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars until that time to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award.

“I believe I just had to do what I had to do,” says Jackson. “I think many soldiers would have done the same thing.”

Tim Holbert is program director of the American Veterans Center in Arlington, Va.

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Walter Jackson Jr.

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Walter Bryan Jackson Jr.

U.S. Army / Distinguished Service Cross

Born Nov 25, 1982, at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, FL. Considers Washington state his home.

Deployed to Iraq from Jan. 26 to Sept. 28, 2006. Was assigned to 2nd Battalion 3rd Field Artillery (2-3 FA) but was attached to 1st Battalion 36th Infantry Regiment (1-36 IN) while deployed to Iraq as a Fire Support Officer. Also has served abroad in Germany and Korea.

His father, retired Navy Capt. Walter B. Jackson Sr., deployed several times as a Naval aviator during the Global War on Terror between 2003 and 2008.

Ignoring his own serious wounds, he returned enemy fire until he ran out of ammo, and tended to and then carried a badly wounded comrade to safety even while being wounded again.

Now a captain in field artillery, he is currently assigned as a speechwriter for the commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) at Fort Sill, OK.

“I wanted to follow in my Dad's footsteps and make the family proud, serve my country, see the world, and save on college.”

Iraq / Hilt

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