GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
September marks the fifth anniversary of the loss of a great American, Airman and defender. On Sept. 28, 2005, 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Nicole Jacobson paid the ultimate sacrifice, becoming the first Security Forces Airman and first female Airman to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Airman Jacobson was a well known and loved member of Team Goodfellow. Her bright, smiling face started the day as hundreds of people were greeted by her at the South Gate. She was known as a person who always stepped up to any challenge and helped anyone in need. When the call came for volunteers to deploy, she was among the first to raise her hand.
Just three months into her deployment to Iraq, Airman Jacobson earned a position as a member of the off-base convoy support team. This team was comprised of only the best; those who displayed the utmost courage, skills and core values. While providing convoy security in Iraq, an improvised explosive device exploded near the vehicle, instantly killing her and the driver.
Born March 26, 1984, Airman Jacobson enlisted in the Air Force on Dec. 9, 2003. After completing Security Forces technical school, she was assigned to the 17th Security Forces Squadron here where she performed duties as an installation entry controller and patrolman. There have been many memorials named in her honor.
Here are just a few:
- In 2006, in a short, but poignant ceremony, a large memorial rock, donated by the United States Air Force Security Police Association was unveiled with a plaque featuring Jacobson's likeness etched on it. The memorial is ever present in front of the Security Forces squadron as a constant reminder of her sacrifices.
- The Physical Apprehension and Restraint Training facility at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio is named after her. More than 6,000 new Security Forces Airmen receive their initial and follow on training in this facility each year.
- The Air Force has established the Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award for Expeditionary Excellence which is given to Airmen for outstanding performance during a deployment. In 2008, one of our own, Senior Airman Nathan Escobar earned the award for his heroic efforts while deployed.
- A street on Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, running from entry control point Echo 4 to the Republic of Korea Air Force compound was renamed Jacobson Avenue in her honor.
- The Goodfellow South Gate was named in her honor. As thousands of people pass through the Jacobson Gate each day, a plaque on the front of the guard facility reminds us of her sacrifice.
While the memory of Airman Jacobson will forever live on through these amazing memorials, thousands of patriots like her continue to serve our great country in dangerous situations every day. Goodfellow alone has more than 100 warriors deployed all over the world today.
This September, the Jacobson family will celebrate her life at a ceremony in Florida. I urge you to reflect each time you come through the Jacobson Gate on those like Airman Jacobson who are sacrificing so much for our freedom. Go one step further and think of the families of those who are deployed. Take a few minutes to call them, see if they need anything and show them that we are not just saying words when we say we are Team Goodfellow.