Jaxson Jordan is a tough kid. He’s battled autoimmune disorders and chronic pain his entire life. In fifth grade, he lost vision in his right eye, and not long after, sustained deeply deteriorated vision in his left. He’s also dyslexic.
The 13-year-old Brewster Middle School student doesn’t let that define him, however. What defines him is his grit and resiliency. It embodies not only Jordan, but also military children across the nation. Ask some of the highest leadership on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and in the surrounding community. They’ll tell you the same.
Col. Scott Baldwin, deputy commander, Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sgt. Maj. Charles Metzger, sergeant major MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune, and other community leaders honored Jordan for his selection as Operation Homefront’s Marine Military Child of the Year during a ceremony Thursday at Brewster Middle School.
Jill Eskin-Smith, Operation Homefront vice president of corporate and foundation partnerships, saw Jordan as a representative of what the award and organization are all about.
“Our core values are about gratitude, respect, doing what’s right and performing with excellence,” Eskin-Smith said. “Jaxson embodies that.”
Jordan received the award following a process that included an essay and other forms of vetting. What set him apart was his service to the community, Eskin-Smith said. After planning to donate $100 of his own savings to those affected by Hurricane Florence, Jordan spoke to businesses to match his donation. He ended up raising $1,200.
“This area went through a lot last year with the hurricane, but to see that young man persevere is really incredible,” Baldwins said. “It speaks to the people around him and this community as a whole.”
Baldwin made sure to highlight the units that have helped Jordan while addressing the assembled community.
“I am a military child myself,” Baldwin said. “I understand the trials and tribulations that come with having a military parent. … I can appreciate and understand the challenges that come with being in a military family. There are a lot of people involved in Jaxson’s success. From Jaxson himself, obviously, as the centerpiece of this to siblings, his parents of course, his friends, and we can never forget the teachers as well and they’re involvement.”
“He deserves this special recognition,” Baldwin said. “It does take a very good person to win this award.”
Baldwin and Metzger presented Jordan with a challenge coin typically handed to Marines who have set themselves apart.
“The point of this coin is that, if you go to a unit and present this coin to someone who doesn’t have a challenge coin, they have to buy you a soda,” Baldwin said.
“I’m a firm believer that if you’ve impacted someone with positivity and encouragement and all those great things, what they’re going to do is turn around and influence others with something in the future,” Metzger said.
“Just imagine how many you’re going to influence with all the people who’ve impacted you,” Metzger told Jordan.
Community leaders and administration from both the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and Brewster Middle honored Jordan as well. DoDEA Mid-Atlantic Superintendent Dr. Donato Cuadrado and Camp Lejeune Community Schools Superintendent Todd Curkendall presented Jordan with a commemorative plaque.
“We represent millions of military children,” Cuadrado said. “Never forget that you serve together with your family. Military families serve with their soldiers, Marines or any other armed service personnel. Our kids are as important as our military members, and they go through a lot — like seeing your dad leave and not come back for a long time.”
Jordan’s father, Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Jordan, is currently on a solo deployment to Okinawa. Unbeknownst to Jordan and his family, however, he managed to watch the reception via satellite call.
“I was so surprised,” Jordan said. “I did not expect him to be up that late.”
Jordan’s mother, ReBecca Jordan, said that when he heard his dad would be unable to make the reception, Jordan responded with maturity.
“He told me he felt bad for his dad,” ReBecca Jordan said. “He (Jaxson) told me ‘He has to be away from his family,’ Then he said, ‘the mission is the mission.’ At 13 years of age my son told me that. Seeing him (Master Gunnery Sgt. Jordan) was a really beautiful surprise.”
Also in attendance was Jordan’s brother, Michael Logan, who won the award in 2014. He was the last recipient of the award not from Onslow County since his family was, at that time, stationed in Hawaii. He said that his status as a winner had no impact on Jaxson’s win, however.
“It really shows that my brother is being recognized for his accomplishments and not doing something in my shadow,” said the elder Jordan brother. “He accomplished so much on his own merit.”
City Councilwoman Angelia Washington congratulated Jordan on behalf of the city of Jacksonville but also made sure to have something on deck for the older brother. He was a student of hers during his time at Lejeune High School where she teaches health sciences.
“When Michael won the award in 2014, the city did not have that information,” Washington said. “Michael Logan embodies what my class stands for in his approach to life. Sometimes it is necessary to correct something that was absent because of a lack of information. That’s what we are doing today.”
Michael Logan Jordan was presented with a similar plaque to his brother.
“I was really surprised, but I know that it doesn’t take away from Jaxson,” Jordan said.
Of Jaxson Jordan, Washington had high praise as both an educator and a representative of Jacksonville.
“What his family is instilling in him and him being educated by DoDEA, the employees and staff, are pouring into him, not many people understand,” Washington said. “The idiosyncrasies of what a military child’s educational background looks like, many people think it mirrors that of a civilian student, but it does not and it never will. … His (Jaxson’s) spirit of altruism in looking at what he can do for others without questioning what others can do for him is special.”
Brewster Middle School Principal Shelia Gilliard was delighted at the outpouring of support from all sides.
“Brewster is a family and we came out to support one of our own,” Gilliard said.
As for Jaxson Jordan, he’s just happy to be along for what’s next.
“I’m excited. It’s just really great to see everyone come out,” Jordan said. “Maybe it will inspire other people to strive higher.… I never thought I would be here getting recognized for this. I’m really excited to go (to Washington D.C.) and meet the other recipients.”
Jordan will be attending a commemoration at the nation’s capital later this month.
For more information about Operation Homefront, visit https://www.operationhomefront.org/.