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The Year of the NCO: A Day in the Life of Staff Sgt. Brian Jacobson

Since 1775, the Army has set apart its Noncommissioned Officers from other enlisted Soldiers by distinctive insignia of grade.

With more than 200 years of service, the U.S. Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Corps has distinguished itself as the world’s most accomplished group of military professionals.

In recognition of their commitment to service and willingness to make great sacrifices on behalf of our Nation, Secretary of the Army established 2009 as Year of the NCO.

Staff Sgt. Brian Jacobson from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force 34 stationed in Joint Base Balad, Iraq has set himself apart from the rest by the excellence he has displayed. 

The Task Force 34 Public Affairs Office talks to him about his drive and motivation behind being a Soldier.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Army verses other branches?

SSG J: I have family that has served in the Army, Air Force and Marines both as officers and NCOs. I choose the Army because I liked the opportunity to be involved in both state and national missions in the Army National Guard.  I like the ‘hooah’ training and missions the Army performs.

Q: Tell me about Noncommissioned Officers who have inspired you?

SSG J: Many NCO’s have inspired me in my career; two exceptional NCOs that stand out and inspired me are SFC Woodbeck and SFC Stacke.

Q: Why do you hold these NCOs in high regard?

SSG J: Both shared key attributes that have helped to shape me into the Soldier I am today.  They have a fierce sense of discipline and duty; also fair and respectful leadership of their subordinates.  They were very hard to work for at times as they pushed me to excel, but they helped to show me my edge, live the Army Values, and they made me a stronger, better Soldier, person and NCO.  

Q: How have you utilized what you have experienced with these NCOs in your own career?

SSG J: Now that I have subordinates, I have tried to give the same type of leadership I received, passing on the training and lessons I learned. Taking my role as an NCO seriously and not only accomplishing the mission, but also taking care of my Soldiers by helping to develop them into future leaders in the military and throughout their lives. I know I ask a lot from my guys, but I know that they are developing into leaders.

Q: How has it been successful?

SSG J: I judge my success on the success and abilities of the Soldiers I lead and those around me.  My subordinates lead the way in many areas including technical, discipline, initiative and tactical abilities.  They understand, believe, and live the Army values and the Soldiers Creed. My chain of command has faith in me and my Soldiers to accomplish the mission.

Q: How have you juggled being a husband, parent, civilian and Soldier?

SSG J: Juggled is a good description.  My wife, Ember, has been hugely helpful and supportive with taking on the lion’s share of home and family responsibilities to include reminding me it’s my birthday on occasion. I couldn’t do it without her at my side. I have found that being a good Soldier makes me a good husband and father and my family makes me a better and stronger Soldier.  I am in the Army to protect them and care for them even if it sometimes means I cannot be with them.  They know that if I could I would spend all my time with them; they also know that I will overcome any obstacles and adversities to accomplish the mission and return to them.

Q: How has being deployed helped you grow as a Soldier?

SSG J: Deployments are the keystone of being a Soldier.  They honed my abilities and helped me to learn about myself and my fellow Soldiers.  Not only have deployments taught me what to focus on when training and Soldiering, they have shown me I have a fortitude, reservoir of strength and commitment I didn’t know I had. I have grown physically, mentally, and morally stronger because of deployments.

Q:  What is a challenge you have recently encountered and overcome?

SSG J:  We are near the end of this deployment, so the level of complacency and stress was on the rise due to mission fatigue and also stress of changing coming with re-integration.  A renewed focus on duty, selfless service, and personal courage is helping my Soldiers maintain focus during the last phases of deployment and prepare for the transitions of re-integration.  My Soldiers and I have discussed issues here and back home, developed plans of action to maintain high standards here and prepare for the next steps to include re-integration and goals. 

Q: What would be a piece of advice you'd tell upcoming NCOs? 

SSG J: Keep living the Army Values and believe them, even when no one is looking.  Integrity, Respect, Honor and all of the Army Values are gifts you give yourself and will make you, those around you and all who you care about more secure, stronger, and have higher morale because the effort.

SSG Lynette Hoke
Task Force 34 Public Affairs Journalist
March 31, 2009

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