From a young age, Maj. Jesse Wentworth was taught to respect and honor the American flag. As the only child of a naval officer who served for almost three decades, a military career always seemed possible, if not probable. Yet Wentworth explored many opportunities, including college, before being commissioned as a U.S. Army second lieutenant in 1999.

“I always had a great respect for the military, but I didn’t really know what I wanted when I was younger,” Maj. Wentworth told The Heritage Foundation. “Then I got on the phone on a summer day and talked to a recruiter.”

While Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s political views led her to limit military recruiting on campus as dean of Harvard Law School, Wentworth partially credits his conversation with a recruiter for pointing his career in the right direction. Now 36, Wentworth is a respected Army officer, Bronze Star recipient, and graduate of Florida State University and Old Dominion University. The volunteer warrior has served his country on three deployments to Iraq, most recently in 2005 with the 89th Transportation Company.

“He brought all his soldiers back safe and sound after a year of traveling [countless] miles of some of the most dangerous roads in the world,” Wentworth’s parents posted online about their son’s last combat tour. “Needless to say that we, his parents, are immensely proud of Jesse and all the military who deploy around the world to keep us safe.”

Wentworth is now stationed on the Kentucky-Tennessee border at Fort Campbell, where three brigades of the legendary 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) have been deployed overseas. June was a particularly difficult month on the Army installation, as 15 Fort Campbell-based Screaming Eagles lost their lives fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. The most recent casualties were suffered on June 27, when Spc. David Thomas and Staff Sgt. Eric Shaw were killed by enemy small arms fire in Konar.

“Our troops prepared well, had plenty of time, and have a pretty clear mission,” Maj. Wentworth said. “But there was no confusion on the fact that it’s going to be a tough fight.”

Government policy has always been of keen interest to Wentworth, who studied political science at Florida State. While faithfully serving his commander-in-chief, the soldier holds traditional views, thanks in part to his upbringing. While deployed in Iraq, Wentworth still made sure to follow important policy debates at home, using information from a key resource that he found on the web.

“It’s not always 24 hours a day when you’re on a deployment; there is downtime,” Maj. Wentworth explained. “That’s when I read a lot of Heritage material, and it was all about policy, not politics. That’s an important distinction.”

Logically, national security is a subject close to the soldier’s heart. Wentworth firmly believes in identifying America’s enemies and defeating them. He is also deeply interested in economic policy, which he studied in graduate school at Old Dominion.

“Taking economics courses showed me the differences in philosophy between academia and Heritage,” the Heritage Foundation President’s Club member said. “It’s really interesting to talk to folks at Heritage events, because they’ve all got great stories about their ties and what they do.”

As supply and services officer for 101st Sustainment Brigade (Air Assault), 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Wentworth is busy analyzing logistics for the unit’s planned deployment to Afghanistan in November. While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are only occasionally given airtime by the national media, usually reserved for when controversy erupts, troops and military families are quietly doing their duty on a daily basis.

Nobody forced Maj. Jesse Wentworth to put on a uniform and fight for his country. After repeatedly risking his life for freedom and security overseas, he is a champion of the same principles at home. As America celebrates Independence Day, we cannot forget the brave men and women who protect our way of life.

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