News Article - 3 minute read

Humility With Dignity Personified: Brother Robert Jackson III

Humility with dignity. Brother Robert Jackson III of Sigma Mu Mu Chapter, Third District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., personifies this phrase, which resonates with Omega men throughout the world. As a 58-year Omega man and decorated Vietnam War veteran, Brother Jackson proudly helps fellow veterans by participating in military recognition programs; he ensures Sigma Mu Mu consistently supports all veterans and current military service personnel on active duty. Initiated into Omega in 1965 through the Gamma Gamma Chapter at Grambling College (now Grambling State University), Brother Jackson was drafted into the Army shortly thereafter and commissioned as an Infantry Officer upon graduation in October 1967 from the Infantry Officer Candidate School. He went on to serve in the United States Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, as an executive officer on two A-teams in the Mekong Delta and earned many awards for his courageous service in Vietnam. After returning from the war and recovering from a life-threatening wound suffered during his last mission, Brother Jackson enlisted and served 30 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a captain. While Brother Jackson downplays his exploits, honors, and recognitions, his pride is undeniable, understandable, and obvious when he shares stories from his military service and personal life.

In September 2023, Brother Jackson represented Sigma Mu Mu at Loudoun County’s POW/MIA Recognition Day held on the grounds of the Leesburg Courthouse; the event is a time set aside to remember the sacrifices of prisoners of war (POWs) and service members who are missing in action (MIA). Additionally, he “carried the Sigma Mu Mu flag” this year at Sugarland Elementary School’s Veterans’ Day program in Sterling, VA, and attends military retirement ceremonies on behalf of the chapter.  In Brother Jackson’s opinion, a retirement ceremony is the most important, heartfelt event for military members because it signifies a change in life’s course.  Therefore, he makes a special effort to attend in their honor.

Recognizing the importance of post-war veteran support, Brother Jackson has supported veterans over the years and continues to do so. Nowadays, he volunteers in veteran support organizations such as Honor Flight Chicago, which didn’t exist when he returned from Vietnam. The mission of the Honor Flight Organization is to honor, thank, and inspire by building awareness and appreciation of the debt of gratitude America owes its veterans for their service and sacrifice for our nation. One of Honor Flight’s key events is the Day of Honor in Washington, D.C. when participants visit the memorials built in tribute to the service of our veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It is a one-of-a-kind journey that recognizes the bravery, determination, and patriotism of our nation’s senior war veterans. Brother Jackson represents Sigma Mu Mu at these outings, serving as an escort, also known as a guardian. Brother Jackson also volunteers with the Quilt of Valor Foundation; the Foundation’s mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Brother Jackson represents the Sigma Mu Mu Chapter at various Quilt of Valor ceremonies, nominates veterans for this honor, and received a Quilt of Valor in July 2022 after being nominated by a fellow veteran.

Of the many honors Brother Jackson has received, he is most proud of being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, which, according to the U.S. Navy, is the highest non-combat decoration issued for distinguishing oneself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. For acts of lifesaving or attempted lifesaving, the action must be performed at the risk of one’s own life. Brother Jackson received the award for rescuing a four-year-old boy who fell from a boat into the frigid North Atlantic Ocean.  While in Iceland one winter recovering from spinal cord surgery on his neck, Brother Jackson jumped into the ocean, fully clothed, wearing boots and a heavy coat, after seeing the boy fall overboard; he rescued the boy as about thirty other more capable people stood by and watched. Brother Jackson commented, “I thought I was going to drown because I was limited in my mobility due to my recent spinal cord surgery.”

Brother Jackson is also very proud of the Combat Infantryman Badge he earned while serving in the Vietnam War. According to the U.S. Army, the Combat Infantryman Badge is awarded for performing duties while personally present and under fire while serving in an assigned infantry or Special Forces capacity, in a unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size, engaged in active ground combat. During the last military operation of his Vietnam deployment, Brother Jackson was ordered to lead a small unit on a reconnaissance mission. Brother Jackson recalled being briefed on it and thinking it was, in effect, a suicide mission. “After the briefing, I basically prepared to die. I wrote goodbye letters, packed them along with personal belongings in a duffle bag, and included instructions on where and to whom the bag should be sent. I also remember listening to the new music hit at the time (“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye) on Armed Forces Network Radio. I listened to it over and over before trying to get some sleep.”  As Brother Jackson expected, his unit came under heavy fire during the mission while attempting to rescue POWs. By the grace of God, he was one of only two survivors from the 20-man unit. However, Brother Jackson was severely wounded and had to crawl and be dragged for approximately two miles to escape.

Despite his many achievements and uplifting community service activities, Brother Jackson rarely discusses them and prefers to avoid the spotlight. However, his significant contributions to Omega, Sigma Mu Mu Chapter, the nation, and military veterans have not gone unnoticed. Brother Jackson continues to make positive impacts in the background and remains a shining example of humility with dignity.