CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq --
Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for those who’ve made a difference. In honor of this holiday, the President of the United States called 10 deployed service members to show his appreciation for their hard work.
One of these Marines was Sgt. Miguel A. Jimenez, the Combat Logistics Regiment-27 (Forward) Personal Security Detachment noncommissioned officer-in-charge, who was nominated by his command to receive a phone call from President Barack Obama. Jimenez is serving on his fifth combat deployment since enlisting in the Marine Corps back in 1999 and is currently forward deployed to Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq.
Born in a small village outside La Vega, Dominican Republic, Jimenez and his family moved to New York City when he was just a small child. He grew up in a rough neighborhood surrounded by violence, but was raised by a disciplined and honorable military man.
Jimenez’s father, who had spent some time serving in the Dominican Republic army, inspired him to rise above the crime-infested streets of his childhood. When he was in high school, Jimenez decided to join the Marine Corps and become part of something bigger than himself.
“[My father] always carried himself above everyone else,” Jimenez said. “He did what he knew in his heart to be right, even when others said it was wrong. I admired him growing up. We never had that ‘let’s go fishing’ relationship, but I just watched my dad and learned.”
Throughout his Marine Corps experience, Jimenez endured a total of five deployments, spending 25 percent of his 10-year career in a combat environment.
As a young Marine, Jimenez was plunged into the fight immediately after the attacks on 9/11. He served as a machine gunner and rifleman, supporting combat operations from Jacobadad, Pakistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He lived and operated in fighting holes, providing airfield security to ensure personnel and supplies could fly into theater safely.
Then from March to June 2004, Jimenez served in Operation Secure Tomorrow in Port Au Prince, Haiti. While standing guard in an overwatch position, he came under direct fire from the enemy. Jimenez and his Marines responded efficiently, eliminated the threat and ensured the safety of their fellow Marines.
During his fourth combat deployment, Jimenez, who was a corporal at the time, held a staff noncommissioned officer billet by leading convoys and security patrols throughout Al Anbar province, Iraq.
“He has several distinguishing qualities,” said 1st Lt. Robert B. Clements, CLR-27 (Fwd) Staff Secretary and Jimenez’s officer-in-charge. “But I would have to say his positive attitude, professionalism, technical and tactical proficiency and force of personality [are some of his best].”
Clements said Jimenez’s positive attitude is contagious but his professionalism is always intact.
“He is always smiling and brightens up any room with laughter while at the same time is the consummate and very serious professional with respect to operations or missions,” he said. “His positive disposition and force of personality combine to make him an effective leader.”
“His willingness to personally sacrifice for his adopted country is both remarkable and admirable, [and he is] one of the best sergeants I have served with,” Clements said.
Because of these traits and his outstanding service to the U.S. and the Corps, Clements recommended Jimenez as the most worthy Marine in the unit to receive the phone call from the president.
“I always understand that my record speaks for itself, but I was overwhelmed and surprised that they chose me,” Jimenez said. He’s my commander-in-chief. He’s the top guy in my chain of command. It’s an honor to have the president call little old me.”
Clements said it’s important to show support to the troops and gestures like this are definitely morale boosters, not only to service members, but to their families as well.
“My family was very honored that I was called by the president,” Jimenez said. “Just the fact that our family name was spoken in the White House- it was a great honor to them.”
Clements said being recognized by anyone for a job well done is always a morale booster.
“Recognition from such a high level adds to that feeling, especially during the holiday season when service members and their families miss each other the most. This type of recognition is very rare and shows the service member, families and friends that their efforts do not go unnoticed.”