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The Tale of a Heroic ODU Veteran: Jared Walker’s Bravery in Service

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Jared Walker in his Navy uniform at the Lion Fountain in front of the Webb Center. Photo by Girish Sreevatsan Nandakumar

REPOSTED ARTICLE BY GIRISH SREEVATSAN  NANDAKUMAR, CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR MACE & CROWN

Old Dominion University recently ranked second for best veterans programs by the military/veteran advocacy organization CollegeRecon.com. Approximately 25 percent of current ODU students are military-affiliated. This means we share our campus with many real-life heroes. The Mace talked to Jared Walker (Delta Gamma – Old Dominion ’16), whose selfless act of exceptional bravery earned him the Joint Service Commendation medal.

Jared moved to Virginia Beach when he was eight years old and lived there until he was 19. He decided to join the United States Navy after seeing his younger brother, Elijah, graduate from a Navy boot camp in Chicago. Jared was living in Mississippi at that time and was volunteering after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast region. Jared wanted to do more to serve his country and also travel around the world, just like his father did.

Jared was in the first week of boot camp when his father passed away from an accident, being hit by a drunk driver. This did not deter Jared from graduating.After bootcamp, Jared attended training at Fort Meade, Maryland and became a Mass communication specialist. He then deployed to Afghanistan from September 2010 to August 2011 as a photojournalist in the Navy.

On April 27, 2011, the base where Jared was stationed came under attack from a renegade Afghan air force officer who opened fire, shooting seven U.S. Air Force airmen and one American civilian contractor. Jared rose to the occasion in the aftermath of the shooting displaying initiative, competence and courage, even though he could have stayed in a safe location.

“This was literally one of the worst days of my life, but luckily many of the members of my unit and I had great leaders like Chief Master Sergeant Max Grindstaff,” Walker said.

Walker’s transition from the military to civilian life was difficult. Before he left the Navy, he had become a single parent to a 2-year-old boy and achieved full custody of him. He also went to Tidewater Community College and signed up for classes. While attending TCC, his mother would help him watch his son. He would not be where he is today without the help of his mother and younger sister Sarah who have helped watch his son while he attends school and took part in drill weekends for the Navy Reserves.

Walker’s experience at ODU has been positive. He has enjoyed his time here and the people he has met. He has joined student organizations such as Model United Nations, the Political Science Honor Society, College Democrats andKappa Alpha Order. By joining MUN, he has been able to travel to Montreal, Philadelphia, Charlottesville, Washington D.C. and Columbus. When he joined PSHS, he became the group’s treasurer and then moved on to become the society’s president, his current position. In terms of his fraternity, KA, he was able to serve as the parliamentarian and a founding father of the fraternity, which he is certain will grow and prosper for many years to come.

Jared describes himself as more of a ‘dove’ than a ’hawk’ and strongly believes that war should always be a last resort.

As of now, he plans to continue his journey in the military. Right now, he is an E-5, petty officer 2nd class, but he would like to be an officer.

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