A Look at America’s Newest Generation of Fighting Men and Women

Name: Spc. Leconte Jackson (pictured with wife, Latricia)

Unit: 506th Quartermaster Company, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 49th QM Group

MOS: 92F – petroleum supply specialist

Time in service: 20 months

Age: 21

Hometown: Newnan, Ga.

Family: wife, Latricia Jackson; father, Floyd Jackson; and dogs, Sampson and Kela

Background: Jackson is typical of many of today’s Soldiers. He and his wife, Latricia, hometown sweethearts since 2004, are trying to balance Family with the demands of Army life. She is pregnant with the couple’s first child, and he is slated for deployment sometime next year.

Pastimes: “I like going to the firing range – my wife and I. I’m from the country and that’s something I love doing. We also like to play video games and taking the dogs for walks.”

Recent accomplishments: “I got promoted Nov. 1 and I just reenlisted for five years to go to Germany.”

How you would describe yourself: “I’m a hard-working, get-the-job-done kind of person. I’m easy to get along with and motivated when I need to be.”

The people I most admire: “My dad. He was a single parent raising a problem child. He made me the person that I am today, and if I didn’t have him, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”

Talk about being a problem child: “It was hard to fit in. My dad was a deputy sheriff and worked in the warrant division. We lived in an apartment complex where he was also a security officer. It was hard for me to go to school with children of the same parents that he had to call the police on to get them put in jail for this or that. I was in a lot of fights and trouble because they (the kids) would say something about it and instead of telling the teacher, I would take matters into my own hands.”

One life-changing event: “Seeing death. I had a trailer right in front of my mom’s house, and there was a little stretch of land there and guys used to sell drugs there. I tried to get them to stop because if they got arrested, I would get arrested. That was my land and the cops are going to think I’m letting them do this. I wasn’t into anything. I worked at McDonalds. You got guys (selling drugs) who were making more in one day that I was making in a month. I don’t know who it was. I remember the car but I couldn’t see a face because it was dark. I noticed a car going by and all of sudden I heard ‘pops’ and saw orange fire (muzzle flashes). I froze. I couldn’t move. I’m just looking. Everything came back into focus and I realized that I had just gotten shot at. I didn’t get hit and I thank God. That opened my eyes up to a lot of things. It showed me that no matter what you do, you’re life can still be taken and taken over nothing. I wasn’t selling drugs. I wasn’t a thug. I wasn’t a gangster, none of that. I was 17 years-old working at McDonalds, trying to go to school. I would rather die in Iraq doing the right thing than dying on the streets in Georgia. If I had gotten shot, the first thing people would think was that it was gang-related or I was involved in drugs. I’d rather be remembered for a good thing.”

Your thoughts about Family: “My family means everything to me. It they’re not OK, I can’t function and operate. As long as the Family is straight, I’m motivated and ready to get it done.”

Why I joined the Army: “I wanted to get away from my environment and because of my dad. I loved the way he lived. He was a military man, a single man who had a good job, nice house and everything. The military disciplined him enough for him to achieve that. I had discipline but I wanted more. I wanted to start a family, provide for my Family – steady check, steady income. You can’t beat it. I also wanted to carry the Family torch. A member of every generation of my Family has been in the military going back to the Civil War. ”

If I wasn’t in the Army: “My wife and I have a pet business. I would breed dogs.”

What makes a good Soldier: “Somebody who is proud of what they do, no matter what it is. It could be something as simple as going to the front gate to rake leaves. That what soldiering is all about – getting things done no matter what the conditions.”

What I would do for my fellow Soldiers: “Give them a pay raise and maybe more days of leave.”

Values: “Honor, integrity, loyalty and selfless service.”

Motivations: “My Family and the fact that I’m doing the right thing for them and my country.”

Goals: “Retire from the Army after 20 years. I know there are things to do in the real world, but me, once I get set in something, I stay with it.”