Uploaded: Fri, Sep 7, 2007, 3:54 pm
Soldier injured in Iraq receives Bronze Star
Army Staff Sergeant Jay Wilkerson was presented the Bronze Star Medal for heroic actions in Iraq Thursday morning at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.
Wilkerson almost died after two rocket-propelled grenades exploded in his Humvee outside Fullujah on March 28, 2006. His best friend, Robert Hernandez, was killed.
Wilkerson was transferred from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the brain-injury unit at the Palo Alto VA in May.
-- Palo Alto Weekly staff
Posted by BP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2007 at 11:15 pm
No Offense But,
I agree that the term "hero" is way over-used in our society, even to some extent with our military servicemen/servicewomen who voluntarily signed up in our military for what could be a multitude of reasons (steady job, college tuition, patriotism, benefits, technical skills, etc). However, the story didn't go into detail about SSG Wilkerson's tour of duty in Iraq - but here is what we know. He was hit by two RPGs riding in a convoy outside of Fallujah. Additionally, the fact that Jay Wilkerson is a Staff Sergeant tells me he has reenlisted several times since he originally enlisted (for reasons we don't know) and more than likely had made the Army his career. And the fact that he's an NCO tells me he's a leader of soldiers. Deployed to Iraq, away from family and friends, this guy got up everyday, strapped on 40+ pounds of gear, endured oppressive heat, and did his job in one of the scariest, most dangerous areas of the world today. And as a soldier in our all volunteer force, he had no say in his deployment to Iraq. Check that, he had the same say in us going to war as you did. So although he earned his Bronze Star (nobody should ever be "presented" a Bronze Star) for meritorious service rather than heroic action, he's a hero in my book.
Another reason why I call SSG Wilkerson a hero is because he was not only doing his job (whatever that was, the story doesn't say), but you know he was doing his best to take care of his buddies, and more than likely, doing his best to protect innocent civilians of a foreign country from the savages of war.
I don't know you so I won't judge you. Speaking for myself, I can't say that I had that heroic of a day. I could be wrong, but I'm assuming you didn't either.
I have to disagree with you about the patriotism in the Bay Area. I've lived all over the US and the world, and although the Bay Area is known for being ultra liberal, that doesn't necessarily mean it's unpatriotic. From what I've seen, Bay Area residents care just as much about their country as conservatives in the nation's heartland. Although most folks out here are against the war, they are able to separate policy from the people tasked with carrying it out.
I'm an active duty officer and recently ran by an anti-war protest outside city hall in Palo Alto last month. Coincidentally, I was wearing my Army Baseball t-shirt when I came upon the anti-war gathering of 100+ citizens. Because they were taking up most of the sidewalk, I was forced to run "the gauntlet" in the street right in front of them. I'm ashamed to say that I expected the worst - after seeing my t-shirt, I thought the protesters would assume I was making a statement and let me have it - would people spit at me? Cuss me out? I even put my iPod on mute to be ready for whatever came at me.
Like I said, I was ashamed, because instead of derogatory comments, all I heard was positive statements. "Go Army!" "Let's bring all the troops home." "We support the troops!" Like I said earlier, I think people in this area are smart enough to separate their attitude about the war from their attitudes about the soldiers.
The reason why I started this thread was because I found the lack of response from this story puzzling. Normally you find a lot of extremes on this forum and not a lot of "middle of the road" posts. I was surprised nobody was commenting on SSG Wilkerson and it made me realize how detached our society (myself included) is from those serving overseas.
I think it's great that Barry flies the flag proudly. I wish more people would. But in our society, too many people throw a bumper sticker on their car and call it a day (not saying you do Barry). If you asked anybody in Palo Alto whether they support the troops, I'd be most, if not all, would say they do. But when it came to commenting on one of our own, somebody who not only earned the Bronze Star, but was hurt in the act and lost a friend at the same time, the truth is most people were busy commenting on their exploding toilets or McMansions.
We live in a great country. It could be better. Ask yourself, what are you doing to make it better? If you're struggling for an answer, I suggest stopping by the VA to thank a veteran, writing a deployed soldier, or making a donation to a charity that helps wounded soldiers or their families.
Better yet, why not get in touch with SSG Wilkerson and thank him for his service to our country?
I agree with Native Girl that we all too often fail to see the big picture. Pointing out the problems of our country is easy. Being part of the solution is harder and takes more effort.
Like I said in my initial post...this was all just food for thought.