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ACLU: Government Mistakenly Wanted to Deport US Veteran

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DETROIT — A Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder was held for three days for possible deportation before federal authorities learned that he was a U.S. citizen born in Michigan, lawyers said Wednesday.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, 27, lives in the Grand Rapids area. He was released on Dec. 17 from a detention center in Calhoun County after personal records were provided to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

“Why did they think he was a noncitizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows,” ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman said. “This is an individual who’s incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness.”

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls in Detroit said he couldn’t respond to media inquiries because of the partial government shutdown.

Ramos-Gomez was in the Kent County jail after being accused of trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at a Grand Rapids hospital on Nov. 21. The ACLU said he pleaded guilty and was supposed to be released on Dec. 14 while awaiting a sentence.

But ICE contacted the jail and requested that Ramos-Gomez be held for pickup. Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt said ICE, like other law enforcement agencies, has access to fingerprint records.

“Once he was released from our custody, he was under the domain of ICE. Where they take him is their process,” DeWitt said. “Our procedures were followed.”

DeWitt said he didn’t know whether Ramos-Gomez protested when immigration officers picked him up.

Ramos-Gomez was driven 70 miles to a detention center in Battle Creek. He was released after three days, after lawyer Richard Kessler contacted ICE on behalf of the man’s family.

Ramos-Gomez is receiving mental-health care and wasn’t available for an interview Wednesday.

He was a lance corporal in the Marines and received awards for service in Afghanistan. The ACLU said his PTSD had a role in the disturbance at the hospital.

The ACLU is asking the Kent County sheriff and county commissioners to investigate the jail’s role in releasing Ramos-Gomez to ICE. Aukerman said Ramos-Gomez’ treatment was “appalling.”

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Wisconsin Kidnapping Suspect Was Marine Corps Boot Camp Washout

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BARRON, Wis. — A Wisconsin man accused of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and holding her captive for three months made up his mind to take her when he spotted the teenager getting on a school bus near her home, authorities said Monday.

Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, told detectives that “he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” and he made two aborted trips to her family’s home before finally carrying out an attack in which he fatally shot Jayme’s mother in front of her, according to a criminal complaint filed hours before Patterson’s first court appearance.

Patterson, who has no criminal history in Wisconsin, was described by people who knew him as a quiet and good student who participated in quiz bowl in high school. He wrote in his high school yearbook of wanting to join the Marines. On Monday, a spokeswoman for the Marines said Patterson lasted just a little more than month in the Corps before washing out in October 2015.

Prosecutors charged him with kidnapping Jayme and killing her parents Oct. 15 near Barron, about 90 miles northeast of Minneapolis. He was also charged with armed robbery.

Investigators believe Patterson hid Jayme in a remote cabin before she escaped on Thursday. Police have said the two did not know each other.

Patterson sat expressionless during the court appearance, which he made via video feed from the county jail. He spoke only to acknowledge that his name and address were correct on paperwork and that he agreed to waive a speedy preliminary hearing. The judge set bail at $5 million.

Patterson went to the home twice intending to kidnap Jayme, but broke off one attempt because too many cars were in the driveway and called off another because the house was too active, the complaint said.

On the night she was abducted, Jayme told police, she was asleep in her room when the family dog started barking. She woke her parents as a car came up the driveway.

She and her mother, Denise, hid in the bathroom, clutching one another in the bathtub with the shower curtain pulled shut. Her father, James, went to the front door. They heard a gunshot, and Jayme knew that James had just been killed, according to the complaint.

Denise Closs started to call 911. Patterson broke down the bathroom door. Jayme said he was dressed in black, wearing a face mask and gloves and carrying a shotgun, the complaint said.

Patterson told her mother to hang up and ordered her to tape Jayme’s mouth shut. He told detectives that Denise Closs struggled with the tape so he wrapped the tape himself around Jayme’s mouth and head. He then taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together before pulling her out of the bathtub and shooting her mother in the head.

He dragged Jayme outside, nearly slipping in blood pooled on the floor. He threw her in the trunk and drove off, pausing to yield to three squad cars speeding toward the house with flashing lights, the complaint said.

Patterson took her to a cabin that he said was his, ordered her into a bedroom and told her to take off her clothes and get dressed in his sister’s pajamas. He then threw her clothes into a fireplace in the cabin’s basement, according to the complaint.

Whenever he had friends over, he made clear that no one could know she was there or “bad things could happen to her,” so she had to hide under the bed. He sealed her under the bed with tote boxes and weights so she could not crawl out, according to the complaint. She had to stay under the bed whenever he left the house, sometimes going for hours without food, water or bathroom breaks.

When his father visited, Patterson told investigators, he turned up the radio in the bedroom to cover any noise she might make.

He said he assumed he had gotten away with the slayings and kidnappings after two weeks went by. He told detectives that on the night of the kidnapping he put stolen license plates on his car and removed an anti-kidnapping release cord from his trunk. He also shaved his head so he would not leave any hair behind and chose his father’s Mossberg shotgun because he thought it was a common model that would be hard to trace.

Patterson told detectives he worked at the Saputo Cheese Factory near Almena for just two days before quitting. The company did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

His defense attorneys, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, said they believe Patterson can get a fair trial, but they are not sure where.

“It’s been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community. We don’t take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client,” Jones said.

Patterson’s relatives, including his father, Patrick, declined to comment after the hearing.

After Jayme’s disappearance, police collected more than 3,500 tips, but no hard leads emerged.

Then on Thursday, according to the complaint, Patterson made Jayme go under the bed at the cabin and told her that he would be gone five or six hours. Jayme pushed the tote boxes away, crawled out, put on a pair of Patterson’s shoes and fled the house.

A woman walking her dog spotted Jayme along a road near Gordon, a town about an hour’s drive north of Barron. The woman said the girl begged her for help, saying Patterson had been hiding her in a nearby cabin and that she had escaped when he left her alone.

Neighbors called 911, and officers arrested Patterson within minutes.

The New York Post published photos of the cabin Monday. The images showed a shabby living area with a couch, refrigerator, an old television set and an unfinished ceiling. Exterior photographs show a lean-to loaded with firewood, a three-car garage and an empty box of adult female diapers in a trash can. A sign over the cabin’s front door reads “Patterson’s Retreat.”

Authorities have not said whether Jayme was sexually assaulted. The complaint does not charge Patterson with any form of sexual assault. The narrative in the document does not say what Patterson did with her.

Prosecutors said they expect to release more information on the case before Patterson’s next hearing on Feb. 6 and that additional charges could be brought in the county where Jayme was held. They gave no details.

Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright declined to say any more about Patterson’s motive after the hearing. But he praised Jayme for surviving.

“She’s 13 years old, and if you read the criminal complaint, you can see the amount of control that he was exerting over her. And at some point, she found it within herself at 13 years old to say, ‘I’m going to get myself out of this situation.’ I think it’s incredible.”

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

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Air Force Academy Vows New Steps to Stop Hazing in Sports Teams

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The Air Force Academy‘s athletic program will get an ombudsman to deal with complaints and a new system for cadets to anonymously report concerns after an independent review of the program that stemmed from two hazing incidents since late 2016.

Cases are pending against a pair of cadets on the academy’s swimming team after freshmen complained about a hazing ritual that included eating to the point of sickness and a rite that involved naked upperclassmen and threatened — but phony — demands for oral sex. Another incident involved the school’s men’s lacrosse team. Details of that case haven’t been released, but the team’s head coach left the school in the wake of an investigation.

The review, by North Carolina consulting firm Collegiate Sports Associates, found the academy had strong programs in place to instill military values and prevent sexual assault. But confused lines of communication and a rigid command structure allowed misconduct, the report found.

“There is no documented alternative for reporting outside the chain-of-command for unacceptable behavior that resides within the hierarchy,” the report said.

In a written statement from Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the academy said it is moving quickly to address the issues found in the report.

“While we are heartened by the review stating that our program is in many ways ‘a model for NCAA programs with high standards for behavior and performance and specific training protocols for developing future leaders,’ we also have opportunities to improve our culture and climate, and we are committed to implementing programs to address these areas,” Silveria said.

In addition to the ombudsman and anonymous reporting system, the academy also is reinforcing its athletic code of conduct, which will be taught to coaches and teams.

“Our mission at the United States Air Force Academy is drastically different than other civilian universities,” Silveria said. “We train, educate and inspire leaders of character — leaders of Airmen — who will directly contribute to our nation’s security.”

The review follows a criminal investigation that led to the first court-martial charges for hazing in the history of the school. The court-martial proceedings have yet to proceed to evidence hearings, a necessary step to determine whether the cases will head to trial.

Former Academy Athletic Director Jim Knowlton ordered the review before he departed the school last spring. The academy announced last month that it hired Nathan Pine, who led the athletic department at Holy Cross University, to the post. He’s the academy’s first athletic director who hasn’t served in uniform.

More than 1,000 of the academy’s 4,000 cadets are in intercollegiate sports, making the athletic department one of the most influential at the school. Yet the athletic program has had a series of misconduct issues over the past decade that have prompted repeated changes as leaders sought to shore up programs to prevent bad behavior.

Knowlton’s hiring in 2015 coincided with an academy push to eliminate what former Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson called toxic subcultures in sports programs.

A 2014 Gazette investigation found that academy athletes had engaged in a pattern of misconduct that included drug abuse, sexual assault and cheating in class.

Knowlton and Johnson were credited with cleaning up most of the misconduct, but hazing emerged as a new issue.

The investigation found that milder hazing rituals had existed on academy teams for decades but over time grew extreme.

“What once may have been acceptable ‘initiation’ behavior has evolved over time to be inappropriate or hazing,” the report found. “Often these activities are built into the lore of a program and passed-on from each class by upper-class cadets who had recently gone through the same ritual.”

The report also found that the academy needs to keep a closer eye on coaches, who operate with a great deal of autonomy.

“In many ways, coaches are the most influential Academy figures in the lives of cadet-athletes,” the report found. “Yet, there is no formal training or certification to be a Division I coach regarding all aspects of their roles and responsibilities.”

Silveria pledged that the school will continue its work to stamp out misconduct in sports.

“Given the importance of this mission, we must be dedicated to ensuring the very highest standards across our entire organization,” Silveria said.

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ISIS Kills 4 Americans In Manbij, Syria

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An ISIS suicide bomber killed four Americans in Manbij, Syria, on Wednesday. The terror group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, which it said was done by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. Initial reports said more than a dozen people were killed in the blast.

Two American service members, one DoD civilian, and one DoD contractor were killed in the blast, according to U.S. Central Command. Three more service members were injured.

“An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces for the Manbij Military Council with them,” one witness told Reuters.

Army Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, confirmed that U.S. troops were killed “during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria.”

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan read a statement about the attack during his meeting Wednesday with Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

“Allow me to extend on behalf of the Department of Defense, our thoughts and prayers to the families and team members of those killed and wounded during today’s attack in Manbij,” Shanahan said. “Our fight against terrorism is ongoing and we will remain vigilant and committed to its destruction.”

“Today is a stark reminder of the dangerous missions that men and women in uniform perform on our behalf each and every day.”

Shanahan did not answer a question from Task & Purpose about whether the Manbij attack would affect the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, which President Donald Trump announced in December – prompting former Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign the following day.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that both he and President Trump condemn the attack against U.S. troops in Manbij.

“Our hearts are with the loved ones of the fallen,” Pence said in a statement. “We honor their memory and we will never forget their service and sacrifice.

“Thanks to the courage of our armed forces, we have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities. As we begin to bring our troops home, the American people can be assured, for the sake of our soldiers, their families, and our nation, we will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate – not now, not ever.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the president has been briefed on the attack and referred questions to the Pentagon. In a statement, Sanders said, “our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country.”

Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar – reportedly a member of the Army’s elite Delta Force – and a British service member were killed on March 30, 2018 in Manbij. Dunbar was on a mission to capture or kill an ISIS member when an improvised explosive device went off.

“ISIS has a network of sleeper cells across formerly ISIS-held terrain and is activating them as part of a planned resurgence,” Jennifer Cafarella, of the Institute for Understanding War think tank, told Task & Purpose. “ISIS’s attack in Manbij demonstrates the threat ISIS poses in its insurgent form and foreshadows the resurgence that will occur as security gaps grow after an American withdrawal.”

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SAS operator led charge into Kenya hotel to eliminate terrorists and save hostages

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The “long-serving” member of the SAS – motto Who Dares Wins – was on a mission to train and mentor Kenyan Special Forces when four terrorists attacked a hotel complex.

After one detonated a suicide belt the remaining three went on a gun and grenade rampage leaving 14 dead, including British development worker Luke Potter. Amid the carnage – orchestrated by terror group al-Shabaab – a lone SAS operator got tooled up and went in after a request for help from Kenyan security forces, sources said.

sas operator in kenya - SAS operator led charge into Kenya hotel to eliminate terrorists and save hostages
A long-serving member of the SAS is seen dragging a victim from the scene of the shooting (Photo: EPA)

Incredible images showed the operator in jeans, trainers and body armor storming through doors and aiding injured, his face covered by a balaclava. He was pictured operating at the hotel alone. But he was joined in the mission by US Navy Seals, sources said.

An insider said: “UK Special Forces always run towards the sound of gunfire. He was there training and mentoring Kenyan forces when the shout went up, so they went in. During the operation he fired off some rounds – it’s a safe bet he hit his target – the SAS don’t miss. He is a long-serving member of the Regiment, there is no doubt his actions saved lives.”

sas operator in kenyan hostage crisis - SAS operator led charge into Kenya hotel to eliminate terrorists and save hostages
Here he is seen speaking with another armed rescuer (Photo: AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The incident was today declared over by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and all the attackers “eliminated”. Local police and soldiers were also seen taking part in the dramatic standoff, with some 700 people eventually rescued from the complex. Gunmen attacked the compound in the Westlands district of Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Tuesday afternoon.

The complex houses the DusitD2 hotel as well as offices and restaurants. In a TV address to the nation, Kenyatta said 14 people had been killed but hundreds more were safely evacuated.

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Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Dies at 94 in New Mexico

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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — A Navajo Code Talker who used his native language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II has died in New Mexico at age 94.

Navajo Nation officials say Alfred K. Newman died Sunday at a nursing home in Bloomfield.

Newman was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the Marine Corps, using a code based on their native language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II.

During World War II, Newman served from 1943-45 in the 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment and 3rd Marine Division and saw duty at Bougainville Island, Guam, Iwo Jima, Kwajalein Atoll, Enewetak Atoll, New Georgia and New Caledonia.

Newman is survived by his wife of 69 years, Betsy. They had five children, 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Funeral services are pending.

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Camp Pendleton Artifacts Move to the National Museum of the Marine Corps

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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California — During the Korean War, Marine Corps prisoners of war (POW) in captivity spent time devising ways to let the outside world know their status and situation, but it proved a difficult task to relay information from their imprisonment. As Marines, each had to be creative.

These POW Marines used cigarette paper and ink made of vegetable oil drained from food to scribble lists that documented the status of all the Marines imprisoned. They would then proceed to shove the information into shaving cream cans, which they then found a way to deliver outside the prison camp.

Today, these cigarette paper accountability lists, among various other artifacts preserved for decades by the Camp Pendleton History Museum Branch, trace the people and times of the horrible history least we forget. For the past several decades however, these historical artifacts resided in the Camp Pendleton area, but soon will travel east and allow their stories to be told to a wider audience at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps recently visited Camp Pendleton to analyze and inspect historical artifacts of interest, which they will take back with them to show them at galleries opening later in 2019 and 2020 at the museums location in Quantico, Virginia.

“What it says when the National Museum of the Marine Corps wants to come over here to recover items of significant history to continue telling the story of the Marine Corps is that we have been a good repository did a good job of collecting significant items,” said Faye Jonason, director, Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton History Museum Branch.

Owen Conner, uniforms and heraldry curator at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, said that their vision at the National Museum of the Marine Corps is a unified one that wants to showcase and represent all cultures in the Marine Corps whether East Coast or West Coast. The items they attained from Camp Pendleton will help further to expand upon that.

“We are just trying to be the best stewards for the Marine Corps history that we can be by saving as much of these items that tell the stories of Marines and their role in the legacy of the Marine Corps,” said Owen.

Some of these historic artifacts were uniform items. Through the name tapes on these uniforms, which some have been damaged and weathered, historians from the National Museum of the Marine Corps have been able to identify names of the Marines that owed these uniform items and tracked the service records. Through these findings they are able to tell the personal service career stories of these Marines.

“What it says when the National Museum of the Marine Corps wants to come over here to recover items of significant history to continue telling the story of the Marine Corps is that we at the Camp Pendleton History Museum Branch have been a good repository did a good job of collecting significant items,” said Jonason.

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Homeless Marine Veteran in GoFundMe Scam Arrested After Missing Court

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MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. — A homeless veteran charged with engaging in a GoFundMe scheme has been taken into custody in Philadelphia after he failed to make a scheduled court appearance.

Johnny Bobbitt was due in a New Jersey court Tuesday to face charges he violated court-ordered conditions that allowed for his release from jail while awaiting trial.

Bobbitt’s lawyer John Keesler says he expected Bobbitt to appear in court.

Philadelphia police say he was apprehended in the city just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Prosecutors say the 35-year-old conspired with Katelyn McClure and her then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico to concoct a story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 for gas. Bobbit and the couple raised $400,000, which authorities say was spent on luxury items and casino trips.

GoFundMe says it has refunded everyone who contributed to the campaign.

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Air Force Medal of Honor Recipient Joe Jackson Dies at 95

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Medal of Honor recipient Joe M. Jackson, a retired Air Force colonel and veteran of three wars, died Sunday. He was 95.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced Monday that Jackson had died in Washington state.

He received the military’s highest award for gallantry and heroism for his actions rescuing three men in Vietnam.

“Lt Col Jackson risked his life attempting the rescue of a three-man USAF Combat Control Team from the camp at Kham Duc during Vietnam,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein tweeted Monday. “His actions contribute to a legacy of valor & our heritage of service before self. My heart goes out to all those mourning his passing.”

Jackson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 to be an aircraft mechanic. He quickly learned he could be of more service in the air as a pilot. He was selected for Aviation Cadet training, before pinning on his wings in 1943 to fly the P-40 Warhawk and the P-63 Kingcobra. Near the end of World War II, he became a gunnery instructor at Eglin Field, Florida.

He flew 107 missions as an F-84 Thunderjet pilot during the Korean War, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters for his service.

The Newman, Georgia, native became one of the first Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady pilots in 1956, supervising global reconnaissance missions. Then, in 1968, the 45-year-old Jackson headed to Vietnam as a C-123 Provider pilot with the 311th Air Commando Squadron.

In May 1968, Jackson, then a lieutenant colonel, was called in to rescue a three-man combat control team trapped under heavy enemy fire at a special forces camp in Kham Duc in South Vietnam.

For weeks, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters has amassed around Kham Duc, prompting the U.S. to order an evacuation of more than 1,000 U.S. troops and allied civilians.

“I was supposed to fly a normal, routine cargo mission,” Jackson recalled of the rescue operation in an interview.

Eight aircraft went in on the morning of May 12. All were taken out by hostile enemy fire.

“They were raking the camp with small arms, mortars, light and heavy automatic weapons and recoilless rifle fire,” according to Jackson’s official Medal of Honor award citation. “The camp was engulfed in flames, and ammunition dumps were continuously exploding and littering the runway with debris.”

After what basically amounted to quick touch-and-gos to get as many people as possible on cargo aircraft, the three combat controllers were left behind in the confusion.

The airborne command post called for a follow-on air raid to destroy the deserted U.S. equipment.

A storm was brewing, with visibility deteriorating fast, Jackson recalled. He heard a radio call asking whether anyone nearby could go in and evacuate the remaining combat controllers before it was too late.

“I was looking out the window, and I knew exactly where they were,” he said. “From 9,000 feet, I started an extremely steep landing approach. My airspeed was right at the maximum … the rate of descent hit the limit on my instruments.”

He rolled out on the final approach roughly 1,000 feet from the end of the runway strip below. Another C-123 was already on the airstrip attempting to find the troops, but took heavy fire from both sides before quickly taking off.

Jackson touched down and saw the three men running toward his plane. Just then, Jackson’s co-pilot called out that a 122 mm rocket had been fired at their aircraft. It skidded down the runway and broke in half, stopping just shy of the plane’s nose.

It never exploded.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Jackson said.

The men boarded, and the C-123 got off the ground safely despite a heavy barrage of small-arms fire.

Not a single round pierced the airframe, Jackson said.

“There were two miracles there that day,” he added.

President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jackson with the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on Jan. 16, 1969.

Jackson flew 298 combat sorties during the Vietnam War. He later became a faculty member at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, until he retired from the Air Force in 1974. He then worked as a training instructor in Iran for Boeing until 1977.

His service and Medal of Honor — which he once called a great responsibility to represent “the thousands of Americans who have served their country” — shaped his worldview.

“It changes your life completely,” he said about receiving the award in a 2013 interview with Air Force Times. “And just like your wedding day, you’ll never forget it.”

Jackson said he kept his award close, in his shirt drawer, adding that it made him reflect on his values not only as a service member but as a citizen.

“Regardless, you always do the right thing,” he said.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Officials: Tyndall Air Force Base Recovering After Hurricane

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Officials say a Florida Air Force base heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael is well on the road to recovery.

Col. Brian Laidlaw told local chamber of commerce members that Tyndall Air Force Base has now been open for a month since the powerful storm struck the Panhandle in October.

The Panama City News Herald reported Saturday that much remains to be done in rebuilding damaged or destroyed structures. But most units at Tyndall are fully operational, including First Air Force headquarters, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, the 823rd Red Horse engineering squadron and the 337th Air Control Squadron.

Laidlaw says there are 48 separate repair projects under way affecting 144 different base facilities. To date, he added, officials have issued $175 million in contracts for the work.

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