Brewster Middle School seventh grader Jaxson Jordan got a shock when his father made a surprise homecoming. Then he got to take the stage with country music superstar Brantley Gilbert. Now, he appeared on screens across the nation, as did hundreds of Marines and Sailors from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.
On April 14, 2019, Jordan, the 2019 Operation Homefront Marine Corps Military Child of the Year (MCMCOY) , thought he was going out for your typical Sunday lunch. He might grab some barbecue, chat with his mother and siblings, and then head on home. Sure, there was the matter of the camera crew following the 13 year old around, but that’s something Jordan had been doing a lot over the past few months.
After being recognized as the MCMCOY, Jordan had done his fair share of interviews. Sure, this particular set of cameras would be featuring Jordan in a national spotlight on Country Music Television’s (CMT’s) “Hometown Heroes,” but that was just semantics. He ordered his food, sat down and waited. When the food arrived, however, it wasn’t a Mission BBQ employee delivering it to his table.
“Lunch got there and the guy says ‘order for Jordan’,” recalled Jordan. “At first I got ready to eat. Then I did a double take and thought, wait a minute, I recognize that hand.”
The hand belonged to Jordan’s father, Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Jordan, who’d come home the night before from a solo deployment to Okinawa. A week prior, Master Gunnery Sgt. Jordan had watched via satellite as his son was recognized during a ceremony at Brewster Middle School. The con, as it were, was on.
“It got me good,” Jaxson Jordan admitted.
Following the hugs and inevitable emotions that come with seeing a family member so close after so much time, there was more excitement in store for Jordan and his family. They were off to meet Brantley Gilbert, Billboard Country number one singer-songwriter of songs like “Country Must Be Country Wide” and “Bottoms Up” prior to a free concert for service members and their guests at the Jacksonville Commons Recreation Center. As the crowds filed in, “Hometown Heroes” producer Margaret Cuomo addressed the audience.
“We immediately knew the perfect artist to go to,” Cuomo said.
Gilbert has strong ties to the military. Several of his family members served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additonally, the singer-songwriter had garnered national attention in 2014 after former Army Staff Sgt. Justin Patterson, a combat veteran, gave Gilbert his Purple Heart while on a motorcycle ride for the Wounded Warrior Project. Gilbert made sure to mention Patterson at the concert prior to playing his song “One Hell of an Amen.”
“My good friend Justin Patterson told me, remember that real heroes are the ones who didn’t make it back home,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert also made sure to recognize Jordan as a young man deserving of all that he has accomplished.
“I hope my future son turns out half as good as that young man right there,” Gilbert said of Jordan during a moment they shared onstage alongside the boy’s father.
The usually loquacious Jordan was at a bit of a loss for words about meeting Gilbert.
“It was exciting,” Jordan said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
Jordan was featured on the July 3 episode of “Hometown Heroes” on CMT, a special military edition of the program. Footage from the concert for service members and guests was also featured.
For more information on Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year program, and to read Jordan’s full biography, visit www.militarychildoftheyear.org.