Bam Jackson’s a player in the war on terrorism
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
Oct. 16, 2005 -- Locals know him as Bam Jackson: funny man, flag football coach, father and friend.
But fighting the war on terrorism with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Horn of Africa, he is known as Sgt. Bryant Jackson.
�I'm still the same Bam over here that I am there,� said Jackson, a Marine Corp Reservist who was called to active duty in February. �I try to keep everybody laughing, and I really just want everyone to get home safely.�
Serving with the military in Africa is not as dangerous as it is in Iraq, according to Jackson, but there are other threatening factors that come into play. Jackson said there are definitely “people who would like to see Americans dead.”
�Our job here is to stop the spread of terrorism and win the heart of this continent,� he explained in a telephone interview.�
The Horn of Africa is the hottest habitable place on Earth and encompasses the areas of Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Ethiopia and Djiboutie, where Jackson is currently stationed.
In the past, Jackson said, Africa has been a breeding ground for terrorists.
�There is no government here,� he explained. �Terrorists come in with lots of money and teach these people to hate Americans. Our plan is to counteract what the terrorists are trying to do.�
Sgt. Jackson oversees 20 service members from all branches of service in a combined joint task force. Some of their assignments include drilling fresh water wells, building schools, hospitals and clinics.
�We�re building an infrastructure that will eventually put money back into the local economy, and at the same time we hope to spread good faith in the American people,� he explained.�
Duties also include training soldiers for future military service, as well as providing logistical support for U.S. units that have been deployed.
��Beans, bullets and Band-Aids� is kind of the catch-all phrase we like to use,� he said, laughing.�
According to Jackson, the days are long and the weather is less than desirable. Temperatures have reached 130 degrees, and shifting winds sometimes make conditions unbearable, he said.
�The things I miss the most (besides his family) are home-cooking, a hot shower and air conditioning,� said Jackson, who has made a vow that he won�t complain about Texas weather for a full year after he returns home.�
Jackson’s mother, Mary, anticipates him coming home sometime early next month and said she and his wife, LaKisha, are planning a grand homecoming celebration with a backyard pig roast.
�He wants me to fix him some chitlins and pigs feet,� she said laughing. �I�ll fix that boy whatever he wants. I�m very proud that God has brought him through. I�m so happy he�s coming home.�
Jackson was born and raised in Sulphur Springs. He is a 1990 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School, where he played football and was selected as “Most Wittiest” by his peers. He joined the Marine Corp his senior year of high school and was in active duty until 1994. He has worked for Ocean Spray for the past 10 years, and he is the father of three children: Jay, who is a 15-year-old freshmen at Sulphur Springs High School; 13-year-old Brian, who attends Sulphur Springs Middle School; and one daughter, Daizia, who is 10.