Detroit Native's Journey To USMC Officer
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez
November 18, 2022
Focusing on his goal of becoming a National Basketball Association player, a boy with a passion for basketball walks down the street to the open court by his grandmother's home in Detroit, Michigan.
Arriving at his destination, he races across the concrete, practicing dunking the ball into the hoop and footwork to outmaneuver his future opponent. He runs these drills all alone from sunrise to sunset.
Although those goals of fame became a fantasy, this young man grew up to become a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Richmond Jackson, an information system security manager for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, poses for a portrait at the James Wesley Marsh Center, Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA on October. 18. 2022. With no support on his education while growing up, Jackson defied all odds and created a successful career within the Marine Corps. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez)
"I've always been an athlete; I didn't want to sit around; I wanted to stay active; I wanted to be a part of a winning team," said Capt. Richmond L. Jackson, who is currently serving as an Information System Security manager for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
Jackson grew up in Detroit, Michigan, with his mother, Peggy Jackson and his two older sisters, Candace Jackson and Wendy Bradley.
"I started realizing that I lacked resources during middle school, and that's when I started to drop off in high school," said Jackson. "I felt like I didn't have what I needed to be successful. I just gave up."
Jackson started giving his attention to basketball entirely, resulting in him failing his school work. Jackson joined the junior varsity basketball team at Cass Technical High School as a sophomore, but because his grades suffered, he was forced out of the team and expelled.
"I didn't have anybody to hold me accountable. Everyone was off doing their own thing," said Jackson. "I didn't understand how I had to care for myself at such a young age. All I wanted to do was play basketball."
Jackson dropped out at his third and last high school and started working the following year. Jackson then went to Mumford High School, continuing his love of basketball. He would then fail to meet a grade point average requirement to play, forcing him to attend a continuation school his senior year at Detroit City High School.
Jackson's love of basketball would eventually attend open tryouts at Schoolcraft College, where Jackson would earn a scholarship after he completed his GED later that same summer.
"Jackson's relentless ability to persevere and overcome, no matter what obstacle he encounters," said Davis. "He will always push himself and those around him to reach their true potential and be critical when you need it, yet encouraging when you succeed."
Jackson continued his passion for the sport throughout college.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Richmond Jackson, an information system security manager for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, poses for a photo during his graduation from at Frisk University on May 4, 2015. With no support on his education while growing up, Jackson defied all odds and created a successful career within the Marine Corps. (Courtesy photo by Avery Adams)
After graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management, Jackson decided to join the Marine Corps and sought out Maj. Billy Vanvianen, an officer selection officer at Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jackson went through Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, graduating in September 2016. According to Jackson, he learned the moral, mental and physical qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.
"I felt like the Marine Corps would give me a challenge and be around people who inspire me every day," said Jackson.
He then went to The Basic School in June 2017, learning the art of leadership and the technical skills to serve as a provisional rifle platoon commander.
Jackson then attended the Communications School at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. He then met Lt. Col. John L. Williams, sustainment officer, I Marine Expeditionary Force, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Jackson and Williams shared common backgrounds. They are both from Detroit and went to each other's rival high schools.
"Capt. Jackson is willing to learn and is always looking for new ways to grow," said Williams. "He has the unique ability to keep doing something despite the obstacles."
Williams became Jackson's mentor. When Jackson would get in trouble or have conflicts, Williams would be the first one he would call.
"I love being a Marine. Putting this uniform on every day makes me feel good. A lot of people don't get the opportunity to be Marines, especially Marine Corps Officers," said Jackson. "My purpose is to inspire others with what I do every day."
Jackson recently returned to his home state and visited Cass Technical High, South Lake High, and Schoolcraft College. Jackson spoke to high school students and the Schoolcraft college basketball team about his experiences.
"I wanted to let them know that someone that was once in their shoes became a military officer and that the possibilities for them are endless," said Jackson. "It was a special opportunity. 'You can't be what you can't see.'"
"I'm a high school dropout. Now I'm a captain in the Marine Corps," said Jackson. "I've always decided to stay a Marine because I don't think anything else can be as meaningful."
Jackson will graduate in May of 2023 with his Masters of Science in Management with a concentration in leadership. Jackson plans on completing at least 20 years of service in the Marine Corps and earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
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