"He gave his life for his country. How could you be more outstanding than that? What else does someone have to give?" - US Army Sergeant Major (ret) John Alford about his son, SSG James "Jamie" Alford
Over the last five years, several of you have emailed me about status updates on SSG James Alford. Enlisted at the age of 17 and a graduate of the SF pipeline by 19, SSG Alford was one smart and tough young man. Jamie was also the son of a retired Army Sergeant Major and fought successfully in key engagements in the Long War. During a FID mission in Oman, Jamie contracted the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which akin to Mad Cow disease. At the time of infection, it is believed that Jamie contracted it from eating sheep's brain with tribesmen in Oman. This was something that he HAD to do in order to win the respect of the Omani tribesmen. Oman is a key territory in the War on Terror.
Many of you had a hand in keeping SSG Alford on active duty in order to help him be treated. He lived years longer than anyone thought (except for his family and us) - he was expect to die before the end of 2003. A Soldier to the end...never quitting. In the end, he suffered and died a Soldier - fighting the disease and going through experimental treatments so that a cure may one day be found to save others.
A family member sent me this announcement:
Staff Sgt. James “Jamie” Alford
U.S. Army Green Beret
2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group
A Soldier In Suffering, A Soldier In Death
SSG James "Jamie" Alford, 30, of Karnack, TX passed away on Dec. 1, 2008, in Marshall, TX. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5, 2008, in the Chapel of Downs Funeral Home with Rev. Mike Edwards, Rev. Jerry Jones and Rev. Judd Strawbridge officiating. Interment will follow in Yates Cemetery with full military honors. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008, at Downs Funeral Home.
Rare Brain Illness Revealed ~
He was deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, France and England. He was in the forefront of initial infiltration in the war on Iraq in the Kuwaiti desert with concentrations at Kuwait & Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s hometown).
While serving in the Middle East, Alford (25) contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an extremely rare and fatal degenerative brain disorder akin to Mad Cow disease.
Awarded two Army Commendation medals, five Army Achievement medals, an Army Good Conduct Medal, numerous division ribbons and the Bronze Star in Afghanistan for “gallant conduct” in leading reconnaissance patrols in Kandahar and helping capture suspected Iranian terrorists.
War Hero SSG James ‘Jamie’ Alford with CJD was the first American receiving experimental treatment for Mad Cow to help others find a cure, there is no cure or treatment for the disease.
Here's more from the Tennessean. Members of the 5th Group will attend the funeral tomorrow in Marshall, Texas.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Jamie's family, friends, and comrades.
Godspeed, SSG James "Jamie" Alford.