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Greenville native retires after nearly 30 years in Army

By Beth Hyatt
The Greenville Advocate

Greenville native Willie Jackson recently retired from active service after 29 years in the United States Army and the National Guard.

Jackson is a 1983 graduate of Greenville High School and remembers his time in Greenville fondly. While at GHS, Jackson enjoyed attending the classes of  Roberta Gamble who taught theater at the time. Jackson also played football in high school under former coach Wayne Woodham.

Jackson, who retired as a Lt. Colonel, enlisted in the Alabama Army National Guard at the Greenville fairgrounds the summer after graduating high school. That fall he attended college at Alabama A&M University in Normal and transferred his National Guard membership to a unit in Huntsville.

Jackson was also offered a full Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) scholarship.

“The rest is history,” said Jackson.

Jackson majored in telecommunications with a concentration in radio and television while in college. He also had a concentration in military science, which helped him receive his commission into the Army as a Second Lieutenant.

While some may consider it difficult to balance the load of schoolwork and the Army, Jackson believed the two worked hand in hand to build up his repertoire of skills.

“It was both challenging and rewarding. I had to participate in unit drills once a month normally the first weekend of the month and for two weeks during the summer. It really prepared me for basic training and sharpened my soldier skills,” said Jackson.

Jackson served his first active duty tour in Germany. After that, he toured in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Puerto Rico, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jackson also met his wife in his junior year of college through some mutual friends.

Jackson has served in the National Guard, Army Reserve and regular Army and was not the only member of his family involved in service. His brother Everett Brown and his brother-in-law Frank Lewis have both served in the Army. Jackson’s last active duty tour was served at the Pentagon.

“The Army has allowed me the opportunity serve my country, my community and my family. I’m very proud of this fact,” said Jackson.

Jackson and his wife Patricia currently reside in Clinton, Maryland, near Joint Base Andrews. He and his wife plan to take this retirement time to relax, take a vacation and celebrate their anniversary. His later plans consist of finding a job and completing some educational goals in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.