Tradition, Family, Service: A Retirement to Remember

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Missy Sterling
  • 442nd Fighter Wing
When Master Sgt. Denise Jump began planning her retirement ceremony in September, she made a unique request to the 442nd Fighter Wing commander that involved sharing the spotlight with her family to honor their military service, too.

About thirty minutes into the ceremony honoring the 442nd Newcomers Flight lead, Col. Brian Borgen asked Jump’s father Raymond Brooks and brothers, Brian and John Brooks to join him and Denise on the stage.

Borgen began by sharing Raymond’s military history: a field radio mechanic with the 1st Calvary Air Division, the elder Brooks served in the Vietnam War from February 1969- February 1970. He was awarded the Bronze Star, an Army Commendation Medal and an Air Medal for Meritorious Achievement.

“Any question how this started for Denise?” Borgen concluded. “I’m so proud to be on this stage with you. Thank you for your service.”

Brian expressed that he also felt overwhelmed, especially sitting between his father and brother on stage since there are some details from their military life he knows he will never know nor be able to comprehend.

Next, Borgen commended her older brother, Brian Brooks, who enlisted in the Navy in 1990.

“He was the rock-star that held our family together through hard times when we were deployed,” said Jump. “He took care of each and every one of us so that we could focus on our missions. He’s my hero. It takes special people to be in the middle of the sea, or in his case under it for 6 months at a time.”

By the time Brian separated in 1996, Jump began hers in the Air Force.

“I was happy for her because she wanted to follow her brother’s footsteps and my footsteps,” Raymond said.

Brian, a machinist mate 2nd class and part of the 1 percent of the Navy who is nuclear trained, was surprised by his sister’s interest in the military.

“Denise has always been free spirited,” Brian said. “She doesn’t fit the military prototype. I think Denise found her own way and her own personality in her military experience because she’s still a very free spirited, loving and nurturing individual.”

Borgen continued to Jump’s younger brother, John, an Army Reserve avionics mechanic with Delta Company 7 of the 158th Aviation Regiment.

According to his supervisor, John survived a crash June 25, 2011, flying combat operations in a CH-47 Chinook and six weeks later on Aug. 6, 2011, he witnessed a CH-47 Chinook, commonly called Extortion 17, crash, killing everyone on board. He was given a choice to take a break for a while after these incidents, but he chose to keep going, according to John’s commander.

“If he can keep doing it, then there's no excuse for the rest of us,” was the response John’s commander got from people who worked with him. “He made my job easier because he inspired his fellow soldiers with his courage and poise.”

“I didn’t expect it,” said John of the recognition. “It was a little over whelming.”

In her closing remarks, Denise thanked her family for being an inspiration in her life.

“You are the embodiment of honor, loyalty and courage,” Denise said to her dad and brothers. “You are my heroes.”