CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
Several hundred service members filled the chapel here, April 15 to pay their last respects to Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, who died of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle April 9, 2008.
Tears fell from the eyes of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who knew Ault, as they gathered to listen to several speakers at the memorial.
The ceremony began with a short prayer from Capt. Erik Grambling, the Joint Logistics Task Force 28 Battalion Chaplain, “[God] knew us before we were born, he knew our lives before we lived a single one of them.”
“We are not left alone in our grief and sorrow, but are confident [of God’s] desire to be with us now,” said Grambling.
Chaplain Grambling then introduced the JLTF 28 Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Benoit.
“I did not have the opportunity to know Staff Sergeant Ault beyond his firm handshake and smile,” said Benoit. “His death again reminded me of the great sacrifice we are prepared to make for one another, our families and our country.”
Ault, a native of Dublin, Va., was a husband, father and son. He previously deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice.
Ault, after being notified that his comrades from a previous deployment were mobilizing again, he pledged his services once more to the Virginia National Guard to take his wife’s place for deployment. After, Lt. Col. Benoit’s comments, 1st Lt. Steven Thompson, Staff Sgt. Ault’s platoon leader, rose to the podium and stated that “Ault was a very squared-away non-commissioned officer by the way he presented himself and the appearance he portrayed as a professional Soldier.”
“One day, Staff Sgt. Ault approached me and asked to be considered for the lead vehicle commander.” said Thompson, “It was apparent with his prior experience in Iraq, determination, ability to navigate, and his desire to be in front; he was [the right person for the job.]”
“He was truly a family man,” said Thompson. “He was always there to help members of his platoon and did whatever had to be done to standard and without any hesitation.”
Ault was a motor transport operator, who was born Feb. 18, 1980. He graduated from high school in 1998 and enlisted into the Army Delayed Entry Program.
He finished his active duty tour in 2002 and volunteered to serve with the Virginia National Guard. Ault’s tour was nearly complete, when he volunteered to lead his fellow Soldiers again into Iraq.
“[Ault] had a dry sense of humor, but always knew when to throw in a joke to lighten up the mood,” said Staff Sgt. Jarrett Souza, Ault’s platoon sergeant. “It was an honor to have served with him and a privilege to call him a friend,” said Souza.
Two members of his company, Spc. David Teakell and Spc. Jeffrey McDaniel stood up and sang “Amazing Grace” leaving the chapel in somber thought.
Following the hallowed singing of “Amazing Grace”, Chaplain Grambling stood back up and said the memorial meditation. “One theme stood out from all the [stories] you’ve shared,” he said, “Staff Sgt. Ault raised the bar for many of us, he had served his time, done a deployment, but rejoined the Army to be with his buddies.”
“Though his unit’s time was short, he was doing his duty that night.” “Because he was there, one of you did not have to be.” “Jesse truly laid down his life for another,” said Gambling.
“May his sacrifice be a reminder of a God who didn’t just teach us, but showed us; that greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” he said.
Once completed, Sgt. 1st Class Frank Mitchell, the first sergeant for Echo Company, stood and said the role call. The final one did not reply.
Seven Soldiers, each shooting three times, honored Staff Sgt. Jesse Ault. One Soldier played “Taps,” the sound to lay the deceased to rest.
Staff Sgt. Ault joined the Army in July 1999 and served as a motor transport operator. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Driver’s Mechanic Badge.
Ault is survived by his wife and three children.