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Deployment reunites Hanscom Airman with Army brother

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. C. Michaela Walrond
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Georgette Jackson, 66th Mission Support Squadron Customer Service noncommissioned officer in charge, knew that her May 2006 deployment to Fort Sill, Okla., would be challenging.

She would be part of the first team to provide Air Force Personnel Support during Contingency Operations for the post. Her three-person team would be benchmarking the in-processing of more than 1,200 Air Force personnel into Combat Skills Training prior to entering the Area of Responsibility.

It would be a learning experience, but nothing extraordinary, she thought. She was wrong. She still recalls the exact sequence of events on the day her life changed.

As she headed home from her first day of work in Oklahoma, she decided to call her brother, Gary. Her decision surprised herself, because she had not spoken to Gary in three years. She had not seen him in person for almost 20.

"I come from a family of nine," Sergeant Jackson said. "My brother and I both have the same father, but different mothers. When I was seven, my parents divorced. My brother went to Alabama, and my mom, sisters and I went to upstate New York to live."

Sergeant Jackson kept in touch with Gary sporadically while growing up.

"Even though my brother and I talked over the years, we were never that close," she said. "There is a big age difference between us. I am now 28 and he is 36. So, besides the phone conversations years ago, or hearing [about him] from my dad or sisters, I didn't know much about him."

She had heard that Gary was serving as an active-duty Army service member. She also knew that he had been stationed at Fort Sill at one time. The last time Sergeant Jackson had talked to Gary, though, he had mentioned going to Washington. She had kept his phone number close, she said, though she assumed that he was probably still stationed in Washington.

Sergeant Jackson nervously dialed the number while telling herself that Gary was probably gone. At least she could say that she had tried to contact him. As she suspected, there was no answer.

"I decided I'd call my father and get Gary's number in case it had changed," Sergeant Jackson said.

The next day, Sergeant Jackson was sitting at her desk, focusing on work when something caught her eye.

"I just thought, 'Oh, my gosh! I know this can't be, as big as this installation is, that can't be him,'" she said.

In the next room stood a man in physical training clothing with a profile and physique resembling Sergeant Jackson's father.

"I knew it was him as soon as I saw him -- from his side profile, he looked just like my dad, but I was second guessing myself. I was saying, 'Could it be? I don't know.' It had been so many years," the sergeant said.

An Army major saw her expression and asked her if something were wrong.

Sergeant Jackson pointed at the gentleman in the next room and asked, "Do you know who that Soldier is?"

The major replied, "Yes, that's Staff Sgt. Williams."

Sergeant Jackson, whose maiden name is Williams, explained in disbelief to the major that Sergeant Williams was possibly the brother she had not seen since childhood.

As Sergeant Jackson nervously slumped in her chair and covered her face with a piece of paper, the major called Sergeant Williams into the office.

"I didn't want him to see me. I didn't know what else to do, so I was just sitting there with my face covered," she said.

When asked his first name, the Soldier replied, "Gary."

Sergeant Jackson kept her face covered as Gary told the major that he was originally from Alabama.

"As soon as he spoke, I knew it was him, because he sounded just like my dad and he looked exactly like my father. I knew that it was him," the sergeant said.

After Sergeant Williams left the office, the major asked Sergeant Jackson if Sergeant Williams was indeed her brother. When she nodded, he asked, "Well, then what are you doing? You better get out there and introduce yourself."

She nervously followed her brother, calling his name. He turned and looked at her, confused. "I'm Sergeant Georgette Jackson," she said.

"As soon as I said my first name, he just automatically started tearing up -- and at that point there were other people in the office," Sergeant Jackson explained. "It was totally like an Oprah (Winfrey) moment. He just grabbed me and we were hugging. It was just unbelievable.

"I asked him what he was doing here and he said, 'I work upstairs,'" she continued. "All these years -- 20 years since I've seen him -- and as big as Fort Sill is, it just had to be God, because there was no way that he could actually be in the same location I was."

Since that day, he has been an important figure in her life. Sergeant Williams is an invaluable part of Sergeant Jackson's childhood and her future. She has gotten to know him all over again.

"I realized that we have a lot of similarities," she said. "He likes to joke and play around just like I do."

Not only were they able to see each other throughout her deployment, the sergeant was able to meet her brother's wife and children. Later, Sergeant Jackson's husband was able to join them in Oklahoma.

"It was a little family reunion in the middle of my deployment," she said. "When I told my dad, he was elated. We are split up all over the world, so it's hard for us to see each other. When he found out, he cried."

Now, months after the deployment, distance is no longer an obstacle. Sergeant Jackson said she talks with her brother regularly, and they have plans to visit their dad together.

When Sergeant Jackson looks back on her deployment, she is thankful for several aspects. Her hard work in Fort Sill earned her and fellow deployed Hanscom teammate, Tech. Sgt. Arden Haggard, the Army Commendation Medal and a sense of pride and accomplishment. Her greatest memory, however, will always be the moment she recognized her brother.

"With him being in the Army and me in the Air Force, it never in a million years crossed my mind that I would run into him," she said. "Seeing Gary was definitely the highlight of my deployment."