Remember the Battle of Donkey Island near Ramadi in 2007?
U.S. Army forces, with the help of Iraqi police, beat back an attempted al Qaeda in Iraq assault on Ramadi on June 30 and July 1. At least 23 insurgents "affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq" were killed in a series of raids against Donkey Island, which sits about 3 miles south of Ramadi. "Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces received reports that a significant number of anti-Iraqi forces had gathered on the outskirts of Ramadi to stage a series of large scale attacks," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "The group, affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq, intended to regain a base of operations in Al Anbar with suicide car and vest bomb attacks."
Spc. Jeffrey Jamaleldine:
"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 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.
You may also remember the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Spc. Jamaleldine's CASEVAC.
Upon landing, the co-pilot/gunner helped load the injured Soldier into the front seat without further injury. Despite the heavy small arms fire and surface-to-air fire events in the area, the co-pilot/gunner strapped himself onto the left side of the aircraft and hunkered down on the wing. The pilot flew to Camp Ar Ramadi medical pad, where emergency medical personnel provided treatment.
And now, over two years later, Jamaleldine is slated to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning.
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.
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."
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 U.S. 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."
I just love this guy. Make sure to read the entire interview. Congratulations and best of luck, Spc. Jamaleldine!