Jake Reynolds is the quintessential "All American Boy." Tall, handsome, quick witted, with a compelling smile. Jake recently returned from Afghanistan where he completed a tour of duty with the National Guard. He always knew that he would be a soldier. The Reynolds family has served in uniform for generations. Jake's grandfather was in the National Guard as was his father Dean who served in Desert Storm. Jake has great reverence for his dad and grandfather for their service to the nation.
The events of 9/11 also influenced Jakes decision to join the military.
"I thought we were invincible until 9/11," he said. "I walked in to my class the day the planes hit the twin towers and everything changed. Before 9/11 I didn't know what the twin towers were. After, I was riveted by the stories that emerged following that dark day."
Jake was a natural leader in high school and not surprisingly Jake has distinguished himself in the military. He won the Air Force Achievement medal and the State Accommodation award. He was chosen the Airman of the Month, Airman of the Quarter and Airman of the Year. This is no small task given the thousands of other airmen that he competed against.
Jake spoke kindly of the Afghan people. "They are people just like us but are in a difficult situation," he said. "They suffer without many of the things that we take for granted like medical care, plentiful food, water, freedom of choice and the knowledge that when children walk out the door the will safely return. I have learned to appreciate my life a great deal more and to not sweat the small stuff."
"Like most of my friends at home I never had much desire to travel and now having been all over the world I have to say that these experiences are very important to me and have taught me a great deal," he added. "I have the satisfaction of helping so many people, while in the military and I am especially proud of these accomplishments. Helping out after a hurricane, serving on the Mexican border or in the Middle East we were always able to help make things a little better. The military was a good fit for me and I will remain in the guard and with the militaries support, I will complete my education at Plattsburg State."
I think I can safely say that we are proud of Jake Reynolds; he is a hero, though he would be the first person to deny such a moniker. Jake and so many others like him put their lives on the line thousands of miles from home for us. Jake and his brothers and sisters at arms have shown kindness, generosity and decency to people in countries that might do them harm. These acts may do more than guns or battles. They perform these good acts for all of America and we are in their debt. Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org