In June 2011, I read a Caring Bridge post about Sgt Jamie Jarboe, a wounded US Army soldier who was spinal cord injured. I reached out to his wife to see if the Reeve Foundation’s Military and Veteran’s Program (MVP)
could assist this young soldier and his family. Melissa immediately called and responded to my email. Desperate for help and information, the MVP provided Jarboe with information and resources. Melissa soaked it up like a sponge, committed and dedicated to assisting her husband. During the time that the MVP assisted the Jarboe family, we sent information, resources, clinical guidelines for care and sometimes simply lent an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on.
Sgt Jamie Jarboe was deployed to FOB Wilson February 28, 2011 with the A Troop 4-4 Cavalry First Platoon out of Fort Riley, KS. This was his third deployment. He and his wife Melissa had just wed on February 14th only 14 days before Sgt Jarboe’s left for Afghanistan. Their new family included Melissa’s two daughters and big dreams for their future.
While on patrol on Sunday, April 10th in the Zhari district of Afghanistan, Sgt Jarboe was struck by a sniper. The bullet pierced through his neck damaging his trachea and shattering his spine. Jarboe was instantly left a quadriplegic.
As Sgt Jarboe lay wounded his driving thought was that he must make it home to the United States to his wife Melissa and their two daughters. His fellow soldiers got him safely to medical care and Jarboes’ last thoughts before going under anesthesia were of his family in the United States. When he awoke several days later, he had traveled half way around the world and was in Walter Reed Army Hospital. His wife Melissa was at his side.
Over the next 11 months, Melissa Jarboe documented their journey on CaringBridge and FaceBook. Sgt. Jarboe had over 100 surgical procedures, was treated at half a dozen hospitals and developed a large following on his FaceBook page; Prayers For Sgt. Jamie Jarboe https://www.facebook.com/jarboefamily. Sgt. Jarboes’ story had several constants, his wife’s unconditional love, their strong faith and the shared details of the brutal truth of his injuries as well as his struggle to recovery.
Not all stories have a happy ending. On March 21st. Sgt Jamie Jarboe died of the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. On March 20th, Melissa Jarboe and I talked, cried and laughed together on the telephone. Melissa, Sgt. Jarboe and I had talked together numerous times by phone, sharing tips, stories and enjoying Sgt Jarboe’s wicked humor and sarcasm. His commitment to his wife, children and the Army were his strength. As a member of the 4/4 Calvary, Sgt. Jarboe took pride in his service to his country. His one fear was that people would no longer view him as a soldier. From that day forward, I always called him Sgt. Sgt Jarboe defined ARMY STRONG.
Tomorrow, Sgt. Jarboe will be laid to rest with full military honors in Topeka, Kansas. As with the last 11 months, he will be surrounded by his bride of 1 year, their children, family and fellow soldiers.
Sgt. Jarboe, thank you for your service, it was an honor knowing you. For Melissa and the children—always Army Strong. Your decision and openness in sharing your journey will benefit other soldiers yet to follow.
If you would like, you can show your support to Sgt. Jarboe and his family at: https://www.facebook.com/jarboefamily.