Archive for Friday, June 6, 2008

Lawrence High graduate finds niche in Army

June 6, 2008


Readying for war

Fort Riley-based infantry division goes through desert training in California before possibly leaving for Iraq

Numerous low-slung tents anchored to the Mojave Desert form one of the forward operating bases at Fort Irwin, where army units go to train.

The 1st Infantry Division has been around for nearly 100 years. Fort Irwin, Calif., has been training troops to fight America's wars for decades. In preparation for possible deployment to Iraq, the Big Red One is spending three weeks at Fort Irwin. More


— When 1st Lt. Jerad Hall signed up for the Army in 2003 he was looking to earn money for college.

Also, "I joined the Army to get out of Kansas," he said.

So it's a twist of fate that the 2002 Lawrence High School graduate is now based at Fort Riley, part of the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. Hall, who received a full scholarship to Kansas University through the ROTC program and graduated in 2006, is the assistant intelligence officer for the 5-4 CAV.

Though he's back in Kansas, he's had several chances to see other parts of the country since his service began. His training has taken him to Oklahoma, Arizona and Washington State, and he is currently with the 5-4 CAV undergoing desert warfare training at Fort Irwin, Calif. The unit may be deployed to Iraq in the fall.

In the Army, he said, "I found my niche."

As an intelligence officer, Hall helps his commanders gather and digest information that comes in from troops in the field.

"We try and find out who's causing the problems in the area and the best ways to apprehend those people that are causing the problems, in order to make the city in wherever we're at and Iraq as a whole a better place to live in," he said.

No communication

Since he arrived at Fort Irwin in mid-May, Hall's parents, Jerry and Roxanne, have heard little from their son.

"You can't text him or call him or anything. You want to do that, but you can't, " said Jerry Hall, of Lawrence.

While it's difficult for the Halls not to hear from their son, they're content knowing that Jerad is doing something he loves.

"We know he's 100 percent devoted to his job, and we know he'll do a good job," Jerry said.

"Many people search years to find someplace or something that allows them to grow and expand as a person and be compensated for work they enjoy doing," Roxanne said. "Jerad found that in the military. Jerad has a unique combination of being able to put his personal best into a situation for the greater good."

Still, it's strange to see their son in this role.

"The most difficult emotion to deal with when your child is a soldier, is that you are no longer the one that protects them, but they are protecting you," she said.

Kansas values

If you ask his superiors, Jerad's work ethic and his Kansas upbringing are priceless traits.

Lt. Col. John Richardson, commander of the 5-4 CAV, said Jerad impressed him when they first met, at a time when the 5-4 CAV was being revived in 2006. Jerad, a 2nd lieutenant at the time, was doing the work of a captain, two ranks above him.

"Professional is absolutely a great word to describe him," Richardson said. "He also has all those qualities that you look for in a leader and a second lieutenant. He's physically fit. He leads by example; he's got initiative. All those things are all you ask of the American soldier and the American leader in the U.S. Army.

"As a commander when you get a leader like that, you know you've got a gem."

Richardson, who is on his third rotation at Fort Riley, praised his soldier's Kansas upbringing, which he said developed qualities that are not only important militarily, but also in the human sense.

"Whenever you can get a good Kansas boy like Jerad Hall in your organization, you know he grew up in an atmosphere and an environment of wholesome values, middle America values that really bring a lot to an organization," he said.

Jerry Hall said it's tough to know what his son may face down the road.

"It is scary, but he wants to make a difference in the world, and I think he will by helping train other people to take care of their own country," he said.

A soldier's duty

As for Jerad, serving in Iraq is something that just comes with the job.

"It's my time to go. I've had my brothers and sisters in arms over there since 2003 when we moved in," he said. "Now I'm here with 5-4 Cavalry. I think we're a top-notch squadron in a top-notch brigade. I feel safe with the people I work with.

"It's a close knit team. (The unit) will go down range, do our job, leave it better than what we found it as, and we're all going to come back safe."

One thing he'll definitely take to Iraq is a fondness for the Jayhawks. Whether he was riding in a Humvee or grabbing food in the chow line at Fort Irwin, Jerad never missed a chance to let other Big 12 fans know which team won the Orange Bowl and national basketball championship.


cparke 10 years ago

Freedom is what this man protects for us every day- and that includes speech. We have the luxury of expressing our opinions without fear in this country; many are not as fortunate. Thank you to Lt. Hall for his service to our country; soldiers like you make us proud!

cato_the_elder 10 years ago

What an outstanding young man, who is an LHS and KU graduate and has gone on to be a member of our armed forces. Every time I read an article like this or meet one of these fine young people, I can't help but bristle at the insults heaped on them by Senators Kerry and Obama in stating that the only young people who are serving in the military today are those who aren't smart enough to do otherwise. Recently, in a commencement speech delivered at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, Senator Obama urged the graduates to serve their country in a number of specifically described ways. Even though the speech was given on Memorial Day, not once in his remarks did he mention military service as being one of those ways. This fine young soldier shames him.

Jean1183 10 years ago

Mr. & Mrs. Hall.....A big "THANK YOU!" to your son for his service! I know you must be very proud.

cato_the_elder 10 years ago

Lone, by immediately denigrating thousands of outstanding young people simply because of their voluntary association with our military forces, the senators' ill-conceived comments themselves spoiled many positive stories for young servicemen and servicewomen and their families, as was widely reported when the comments were made.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.