Ordinary heroes do extraordinary things

  • Published
  • By Maj. Christopher Jackson
  • 71st Security Forces Squadron commander

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The musician Dave Grohl, leader of the band, Foo Fighters, once said “there goes my hero, he’s ordinary.”

While song lyrics can be interpreted in many ways, the words to the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero,” in my mind have long played homage to the ordinary individual that does extraordinary things.

During my time in the military, I have seen many examples of ordinary people who have changed the world for the better. One of my favorite examples is Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter.

Carter joined the Marine Corps in 1998 where he served as a combat engineer and an intelligence clerk until 2002, when he was reduced in rank to lance corporal for fighting with another Marine.

Shortly after his reduction in rank, Carter left the Marine Corps and gave civilian life a try.

He attended Los Medanos Community College in California. But in 2008, he enlisted in the Army as a Cavalry Scout at Fort Lewis, Washington.

In May 2009, he deployed to Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, where he engaged in the Battle of Kamdesh at Combat Outpost Keating.

COP Keating was the site of the bloodiest battles of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was a 12-hour firefight against a force of 300 Taliban fighters and ended with eight U.S. Forces killed in action and 22 wounded.

This particular battle resulted in many decorated combat veterans and is the first, since Mogadishu in 1993, in which two soldiers, Carter and Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, received the Medal of Honor.

Carter was awarded the medal for running through enemy fire twice, to resupply his comrades who were pinned down. Carter’s actions were caught on camera by terrorists and eventually fell into the hands of U.S. forces documenting his brave actions that day.

Carter’s story stands as testament that many people do make mistakes in their careers, but not only can they recover from those mistakes, they can go on to do incredible things for their brothers and sisters on the battlefield, including risking their own lives.

His story is an inspiration to me because there are heroes among us, many of which are ordinary people whom you would never expect. My everyday ordinary heroes are the people that have signed the dotted line to serve this country -- the uniformed military member, the civil servant and the contractor. These heroes endure long tedious hours, time away from loved ones and the daily grind whether at home or abroad.

Another hero, often overlooked, is the family member. They serve in a different capacity -- supporting the long hours away at work, the holidays alone and the quiet moments of agony. Our family members support us and what we do because they understand that our service is more than an eight-hour day.

Remember, service is about the men and women you serve. It’s not about you. It is about the day you may be called to lay down your life for another.

When the job gets tough and life brings you down, be a person of action. Be like Ty Carter. Make your life about the people, the mission and the family around you.