Strength in Diversity: Wounded Soldier continues to contribute to Army mission in Europe
February 8, 2010
SCHWEINFURT, Germany - Two years ago, Spc. Jeffrey D. Jamaleldine, a Schweinfurt Soldier, was still recovering from a bullet wound to the face, wondering if he'd ever get back into the action of fighting. Today, with what may seem like a lifetime later, Jamaleldine has fully recovered and awaits his class date for Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga., where he will continue his faithful service to the United States Army.
"I'm here to take an active approach ... to do my part to make this a better country, a better world," Jamaleldine said.
Jamaleldine, a native of West Berlin, grew up in Germany like any other child. He went to school and dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. After completing 13 years of education in the German school system, he was offered a four-year soccer scholarship to Missouri Southern State College. Things were going according to his plan.
"Well before college I was in the German military. I was a German citizen. I had to do it. But after I was drafted and completed ten months of service, I received a scholarship in the states. I wanted to be a soccer pro; my dream was to play soccer," he said, with a slight German inflection.
But things would soon change and his life would take a different course after the devastation of 9/11 and other global acts of terrorism.
"It was just after (the terrorists) attacked London and Madrid. It made me mad that a small group of people were dictating what they wanted the majority to believe. I knew what I wanted to do ... I wanted to do my part," he said, adding that it was also better at that time for his family, a wife and two kids, to move back to Germany.
So after years of work with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and later earning a Masters in Business Administration, Jamaleldine found himself in a U.S. Army recruiting office, making a life-changing commitment. He would later request to join a rapid deploying unit based out of Germany.
"I was stationed in Schweinfurt in 2005. It's my first and only duty station," he said, adding that he was with 1st Battalion, 77th Armor.
After combat training and unit preparations, Jamaleldine finally got what he had been hoping for - a deployment.
"We deployed in August 2006 to Ramadi, Iraq. The night we got there we got mortared ... we couldn't even go out of the wire. It was just very horrible," he said, shaking his head.
Things soon got worse.
In January 2007 he took a bullet to the chest while out on a mission. Fortunately, his bulletproof vest did its job; however, not preventing against a painful blow to his chest. The realities of combat had prevailed, but, little did he know, the ugly face of war would soon strike again.
"It was a normal day like any other. It was July 1, 2007. We had just rolled back in and had a break ... got back, relaxed, had a shower. And it was steak and shrimp night. I couldn't wait to eat steak and shrimp," he said.
However, evening chow would be delayed when Soldiers of his platoon called requesting food be brought out to the combat outpost outside of the Ramadi tent.
"On the way out we got a call from Blue Platoon saying they were taking fire and that there must've been 80 guys. They said they were almost black on ammo. We decided to take a truck and roll out there to see what he was talking about and, yeah, there was close to 80 people shooting at us ... we were outnumbered," he said trailing off.
The events following would fly by in an instant as live fire would jet left and right, explosions would light up the night sky, and Apache helicopters would hover in an effort to aid the few ground forces fighting the many white-robed enemies.
"I was shooting from the M240 Bravo. It was controlled chaos. There were no friendly fire incidents ... we really had it under control. Then I looked left and I see (him) ... coming towards me," Jamaleldine said. He refers to the enemy combatant approaching, strapped with an explosive vest, ready to kill.
"I couldn't tilt my M240 down far enough to engage. So I took the 240 out of the mount and leaned myself over ... if I didn't do what I did, our vehicle would've exploded. But by then my head was outside of the armor, so I took a bullet to the face," he said, pointing to the now faint scar on his left cheek. The bullet ripped through his skin, disconnecting the bone structure of his jaw, and finally exiting from his temple.
After several acts of heroism by Soldiers at the battle site, a fight known today as the Battle of Donkey Island, Jamaleldine, who was in and out of consciousness, was successfully transported to a medic tent in Balad where he underwent his first, of many, surgeries.
In just two days, the specialist would wake up to find himself in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on the road to recovery. And in just two years, Jamaleldine finds himself back on his feet, ready to get back in the fight.
"After I got wounded, they wanted to make me leave the Army because to them I wasn't mission-capable anymore. I was in the (warrior transition unit). The WTU really did a lot to help me get back on my feet, but it's more for Soldiers who are getting out of the Army. But I wanted to return to duty ... to join the guys downrange," he said.
After joining the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, Jamaleldine, discovered a new skill and went to work for the Schweinfurt Tax Center as a site coordinator.
"I'm a big sucker in giving back. Although being downrange is more internally rewarding, this job is more personally (satisfying) ... because you tell anyone, 'hey, I opened a university in Ramadi' and they're like, 'hey, good job.' But you say, 'hey, I can give you a 4500 dollar tax return,' and they'll be like, 'yeah!'" he said, laughing.
Despite his knack for filing taxes, the job is temporary and Jamaleldine will soon head to OCS and continue his service to the Army, with full support of those who know him.
"Spc. Jamaleldine's rank really belies his experience, maturity, and ability. ... Aside from the military things that he always gets right, he has a very grounded personality and outlook that has helped tremendously to deal with those day-to-day situations within the office. ... We just can't brag about him enough," said Capt. Samuel Gregory, officer in charge of the Schweinfurt Law Center.
So what next for this unique individual'
"I know how it is to be injured and there are a lot of things that are great, but things can be done better, so I'd like to work with Soldiers that came back from downrange wounded. I understand what they're going through. So if I'm their commander, or platoon leader, I can say, 'hey, I was one of you guys' and I think that really says something. I want to do that and give back to the military," he said.
Whether it is his strong sense of patriotism, or maybe just his genuine passion to give back, Jamaleldine stresses the importance of taking action for the things he believes in.
"Everybody gets born into a country. If you're born into France, you're French. I was born in Germany, so I'm born German. But I chose to be a US citizen, and there's not a day that I take things for granted. I want to do my part," he said, repeating his motto for life, "actions really do speak louder than words."