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Minnesota National Guard
Superior man teaches half a world away

Although he’s 10 time zones away, Jayce Mayberry will be cheering for the Packers on Sunday The staff sergeant is deployed in Afghanistan with the Minnesota Army National Guard, teaching English to members of the Afghan National Army Although the Duluth native is a die-hard Vikings fan, he’ll make an exception for the Super Bowl

Minnesota Army National Guard Staff Sgt Jayce Mayberry of Superior hands out treats to children in Afghanistan The Duluth native has been working side-by-side in the field with members of the Afghan National Army, teaching them English During his deployment, Mayberry said, family and friends have sent boxes of items for Afghan children (Submitted photo)

“I got the best of both worlds because I live in Superior,” Mayberry said in a telephone interview last week But, he warned, “When they’re playing each other, it’s Vikings all the way”

The Superior man headed to Afghanistan last year with a small group of Minnesota soldiers, the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team They partnered with a dozen Croatian soldiers to mentor members of the ANA in every aspect of work, from personnel to logistics, recon to fire support

“We work on a daily basis with them, shoulder-to-shoulder,” Mayberry said The aim of the program is to make sure the army can sustain itself when coalition soldiers leave English is the language of the world, the sergeant said If they can speak it, they can communicate with almost everyone

“My students love me because they love to learn and they like that I come to teach them,” Mayberry said “With the Afghan people that I have come in contact with everything has been great

“When you give respect, you get respect, plain and simple,” he said

Far from home

This isn’t Mayberry’s first deployment He served overseas in Iraq from 2006-07 During his time there, he mentored members of the Iraqi police force His current job is similar, but bigger

“This is to stabilize the nation,” Mayberry said “Once we are gone from here, pull out, these guys are going to have to rely on each other to keep the country going”

Out his backdoor, the Superior man has a stunning view of the nearby mountains He’s dealt with weather extremes during this deployment Temperatures soared as high as 135 degrees Fahrenheit last summer A few months ago, it started cooling off and has dipped into the teens

Technology keeps him connected to his wife and three children in Superior as well as his mother and sister in Duluth

“I thank God for the Internet,” he said “Skype has definitely been great, seeing the kids grow, seeing their faces”

Mayberry played basketball at his alma mater, Duluth Central High School, and he uses technology to keep tabs on area basketball teams from Duluth Central, Duluth East and Superior high schools

“I check the Internet every day to see how they’re doing,” he said, singling out SHS athletes Darcell Williams and Joel Lindberg as some of the players he tracks “I’m proud of you guys Keep up the good work”

He misses his family, playing basketball, McDonald’s Big Macs and sleeping in his own bed But Mayberry said he’s proud of the work he’s doing

“Being here it helped me grow,” he said “I’m glad I got to be part of it”

Mayberry, a recruiter for the Army National Guard, volunteered for the deployment

“If I can sign people up, enlist kids to come serve their company, I can do the same,” he said “Lead by example”
The soldier said he has received a lot of support from family and friends in the Northland Just last week, he took gifts sent from the US to a local orphanage He’s taken school supplies donated by family in the US to local schools, as well

“They’re definitely happy we’re here,” Mayberry said of the Afghanistan people “The smiles, thumbs up, waves … it makes you feel good, happy you’re here, keeping things safe for them”

Although he plans to become a career military man, the sergeant found he has a knack for teaching

“They’ve definitely learned a lot from me,” he said “It has been difficult at times because it’s a new language for them” But when his students don’t understand something, Mayberry changes his approach

“In my mind, as a teacher, being one dimensional is failure,” he said “Not everyone learns the same way, some learn one way and others learn another It’s my job to make sure they learn and understand”

Mayberry also serves as a driver and gunner when his unit travels to meet their Afghan counterparts at various bases throughout the country He noted the military coalition in the country is truly multinational He works with Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Croatian troops, to name a few

His time in Afghanistan has taught the Superior man not to take anything for granted

“I’m very blessed to be from where I’m from,” Mayberry said

He sent a big “Hi” home to everyone in the Twin Ports And he urged everyone at home, regardless of their political affiliation, to support US troops overseas
“We’re people just like everyone else; we’re doing a job,” he said

Some are even cheering for the Packers

Published February 02 2011

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