Born to do this

It was the spring of 2014, and just hours earlier, her son, Jacob Jackson, had been sworn in as a United States Marine in Indianapolis, so she sat waiting anxiously in a holding area with her family, hoping to see him one more time before he boarded a bus with other Marine recruits and headed off to boot camp in San Diego.

And then, unexpectedly, an announcement blared across the building’s PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for America’s newest heroes.” As he proudly marched through the room, she swelled with emotion. She was a Marine mom … and here’s the story.

Early in Jacob’s teenage years, Susanna Bard used to listen to her son tell her how he wanted to be a Marine someday. She believed even though he was so young, he already knew what he wanted to do. Or maybe it was more than that; just maybe being a Marine is what Jacob was born to do.

The support system for Jacob was strong growing up. His mother had a successful career with one of the world’s largest label companies, Multi-Color, in Scottsburg, and his father, Richard Jackson, was an Indiana State Police trooper. So with strong supporters around him, Jacob really could have chosen to follow any dreams or goals he wanted, and that’s exactly what he did. He chose to protect others, to serve his country. He chose to be a United States Marine.

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Knowing what he wanted to do is something Jacob started at an early age. When he was just 5 years old and in kindergarten, he presented Susanna with a signup sheet for youth football and told her he wanted to play real football, “the tackle kind.” So that’s what he did, and eventually, he made a big name for himself on the gridiron fields across southern Indiana.

Playing for legendary coach Reed May at Brownstown, he learned that football was more than just a game. May’s old-school care for his program and players instills lessons for life. In fact, the self-discipline Jacob learned from the Brownstown Central football program taught him valuable lessons, things that help him today as a young Marine.

And about that football career: He was all-conference, the defensive back MVP and the defensive points leader. And his senior year, he did all of that on an undefeated regular-season team going 9-0 and finishing the year at 12-1, which included the Mid-Southern Conference championship and a sectional championship.

Those who saw him play are quick to remember his all-out style of play, his determination and his intensity. It seems that Jacob did know what he wanted to do.

When he was just 5 years old, Jacob’s football career was more than just being a star on a team full of stars. He was a leader, the kind of guy willing to help a teammate out on and off the field. He volunteered his time in the summers to work with the youth football program because he felt the need to help others.

Even as all of his football goals were being met, Jacob still had his eyes on his ultimate goal — being a United States Marine. And his mother can still remember the day he officially said, “This is what I’m going to do.” He was 17 years old and told her he was ready to serve.

At first, Susanna didn’t know what to think, so she asked a couple of questions, and he answered, “I know I can do what’s going to be asked of me, and not everyone can do that.” His answer touched her, and anyway, what’s a mother supposed to say to that?

So Jacob headed into his senior year of high school knowing soon he was going to be a United States Marine. He then made plans to graduate early just so he could get to the Marine Corps as fast as he could.

For Susanna, things were happening fast, too — real fast. The military experience was new to her. After all, no one in her immediate family had served, and then just like that, she was a Marine mom. So away went Jacob to serve his country, with the support of everyone close to him. And according to Susanna, Jacob’s sister, Megan Jackson, is his biggest fan.

Susanna describes her feelings over Jacob being a Marine in two ways — both proud and concerned.

“I’m aware of what goes on in the world today,” she said. “But I’m not afraid for him. I’m concerned, but I don’t live in fear. I know the threat of danger is always there for him, but I also know Marines are trained to be the best in the world at what they do.”

Susanna also said her faith in God and her prayers are what guide her, and that’s where she turns when she needs to.

“He is always in my prayers and the prayers of many others,” Susanna said. “Having faith in God makes this bearable.”

She also has her art. Her degree from Hanover College is in art, and it’s a passion for her that’s always there. And when needed, there are other support avenues, such as other Marine moms.

Currently, Lance Cpl. Jacob Jackson is deployed somewhere in the South Pacific, where he’s pursuing his dreams and fulfilling goals in this chapter of his life. At this point, his military occupational safety job is mortarman, and he’s also on a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel team, and part of that training is to rescue downed pilots.

And one other thing while he’s thousands of miles away, he keeps his Indiana roots close by. In fact, his first Marine tattoo was the flame and stars of the Indiana state flag.

His dreams and goals, of course, involve protecting freedom and serving his country and doing what he believes is right, something he knew about a long time ago.

As for Susanna, she is hoping he will be home for Christmas, but she understands her son has a job to do. It makes her happy knowing that Jacob loves his job because this is what he has always wanted — to be a Marine. For sure, Jacob is a proud Marine, and his mother … well, she’s a proud Marine mom.

This article was written with the utmost respect and honor for all military personnel past and present serving to protect America and freedom. This story is in honor of all military parents and those serving the United States. Every military parent has a story, a story that touches the heart.