By Mark Mercer
Derek Jimenez, a 2010 graduate of Montpelier High School, carries a heavy load of responsibility these days. Derek is currently serving a one year combat tour in the volatile Helmond Providence in Afghanistan, as a member of “Task Force Saber,” 2nd Cavalry Regiment (“The Second Dragoons”), the longest continuously serving regiment in the United States Army, home-based out of Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany.
While in high school, Derek was a four year letter awardee in wrestling and a three year letter awardee in football. After graduation, Derek initially attended the University of Mt. Union, and was a member of the university’s wrestling team. In February 2011, during his freshman year, Derek decided to join the United States Army Reserve, and after completion of Basic Training, he was assigned to a unit based in Milan, Ohio. Having had a taste of military training, Derek decided to transfer to active duty and in September of 2012 reported to Ft. Gordon Georgia to attend basic radio operator school. After completion of his military occupation specialty school in February 2013, Derek was assigned to his current unit at Rose Barracks in Germany in March of 2013. Derek’s unit received orders and was deployed for duty in Afghanistan in July of 2013.
Derek serves in a Personal Security Detachment for his Squadron Commander and is the communications expert in the Detachment. His duties also include dismounted security for the detachment during operational combat patrols. Their mission is to conduct daily operations, which consist of doing consultations with all of the Afghan District Leaders of the Province. In a recent communication with Derek, he stated “we get briefs by local leaders on their plans on how to run Afghanistan more efficiently with the impending U.S. departure from Afghanistan. We also consult and suggest ways they can continually improve their efforts here. We patrol the area of operations nearly every day, and let the Taliban know that no matter what their plans are, we will be out every day letting them know that we and the Afghan Army control the area and this Province belongs to the people. We also spend some time in the smaller villages trying to help them with whatever they need.”
Derek is the youngest son of Ronnie and Karen Jimenez of Montpelier. The Jimenez family has made a significant contribution over the past decade during the war on terrorism. Ronnie and Karen’s oldest son, Staff Sergeant Christopher Jimenez (Montpelier High School, class of 2004) is also a soldier who has served 4 combat tours, with a tour in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, NC. While communicating with Derek, he talked about his brother and the role model he has been in his life. Derek said of his brother Christopher, “I try to mold my efforts as a Soldier to the Soldier my brother is. My brother is definitely the definition of “The Military Standard” and I would not be who I am without his guidance, and through all of this I am honored to be going down some of the same roads that my brother has traveled himself.” Additionally, Derek spoke of his parents and said “I want to take the time to thank my mother and father for the continuous love and support they have given me; they are two of the strongest people I honestly know. After watching my Brother Christopher do 4 combat tours, I realize that it is a lot harder to watch your loved ones go to war than it is to actually go to war yourself. I hold my upmost respect for my parents. ”
Derek currently holds the rank of Private First Class and on October 1st will receive an early promotion to the rank of Specialist. Derek has also recently been submitted for the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for his combat service. Derek is expected to return to Germany in the summer of 2014 and soon thereafter be released to the United States and will return to Montpelier for 30 days leave soon after.
Mark Mercer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org