Medal of Honor recipient makes sergeant's re-enlistment memorable

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Not many Airmen, especially those who have had several, can look back and say that their re-enlistment was an event they'll remember for the rest of their life.

This is not the case for one master sergeant because for her re-enlistment, retired Col. Joe Jackson, Medal of Honor recipient, administered the Oath of Enlistment.

"I was incredibly honored and grateful to have Colonel Jackson administer the oath," said Master Sgt. Brenda Degnan, who re-enlisted for five years.

Degnan, 62nd Maintenance Squadron home station check section chief, was Jackson's escort when he came to observe events for Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 that took place July 18-22.

"We've been spending a whole week together with Rodeo," Jackson said. "She was my shadow; wherever I go, she went too."

They both don't recall where it happened, but during a conversation, the subject of Degnan's re-enlistment came up. Because she was able to spend time with Jackson, Degnan asked him to be part of the ceremony.

When asked why he wanted to do the re-enlistment, Jackson replied, "I did it because she asked me to," he laughed, "and I'm happy to oblige."

The re-enlistment ceremony took place in front of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial at McChord Field, with only Degnan's husband, Tech. Sgt. Erik Degnan, and co-worker, Staff Sgt. Jessica Sliwoski.

"Having just a few people there made it a very quiet and special event," Degnan said. "I'll never forget it."

Besides her intimate ceremony, Degnan says that the time spent with Jackson was something she'll also never forget.

"My week with Colonel Jackson was perhaps the most meaningful and memorable week of my career," she said. "It was awe-inspiring, not only be in the presence of a Medal of Honor recipient, but also to get the opportunity to spend a week with someone so genuine and humble."

Jackson, then-lieutenant colonel, risked his life to land a C-123 Provider aircraft despite hostile fire, and rescued a three-man Air Force Combat Control Team, earning him a Medal of Honor. There is also a street at McChord Field named in his honor and a C-17 Globemaster III called the "Spirit of Col. Joe M. Jackson." Because he lives in the local area, Jackson frequently visits Joint Base Lewis-McChord and participates in many base events.

"Colonel Jackson and I had many interesting conversations," she added. "We talked a lot about his career and all of the amazing things he accomplished, from starting out as a B-25 crew chief and flying U-2s to saving the lives of three men in Vietnam. I wish I could truly express how awesome it was to spend the week with Colonel Jackson but words just won't do it justice."