NASHVILLE – The viral photo of a Soldier saluting a funeral procession while standing in the rain has been identified. Colonel Jack L. Usrey is the Senior Army Advisor to the Adjutant General at Tennessee National Guard Headquarters in Nashville. While driving from Ft. Knox, KY last week, Col. Usrey met a funeral procession, stopped, got out of his vehicle and paid his respects to the deceased.
“I didn’t really think,” said Usrey. “I just did what my parents taught me to do growing up.”
“I stopped, got out, saluted the police escort and held my salute as the hearse and family passed by, then went on my way and didn’t give it a second thought.”
The photo, that has since gone viral, was taken and shared on Facebook and Instagram by Erin Hester of Vine Grove, KY on Thursday, July 6th. Since that time, the photo has garnered more than 187,000 “Likes”, been shared nearly 130,000 times and generated more than 8,600 comments.
In her Facebook post, Ms. Hester said, “I was so completely touched by this today. A funeral procession was passing by and this soldier got out of his jeep to stand at attention in the pouring rain. I always get frustrated when I see cars that don’t pull to the side and stop for a procession, but this gentleman went above and beyond. I feel pretty confident that there isn’t a military rule that soldiers have to do this. This made my heart happy to see the amount of respect that this gentleman showed a family that he doesn’t even know.”
“Two days later, I saw the photo hit Facebook – since then it’s exploded,” Usrey said. “It’s baffling to me that something so simple caused so much attention. I guess it goes to show how simple it would be for our Nation to be more united if we just treated each other using the Golden Rule.”
A mutual friend at Ft. Knox contacted Ms.Hester and said they were sure they knew the Soldier in the photo and contacted Col. Usrey. The photographer and the subject of the photo connected by phone today and Ms. Hester was able to express her appreciation personally.
Col. Usrey started his career in the Tennessee Army National Guard in1988 as an enlisted Soldier in Union City, TN. After graduating as a distinguished military graduate from the University of Tennessee at Martin ROTC program, Col. Usrey served on active duty as an Armor and Adjutant General officer for 25 years. His assignments ranged from tank platoon leader to the Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs).
He has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, United States Army Recruiting Command, 1st Armored Division, Special Operations Command Pacific, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, 1st Cavalry Division, III Corps, and the Combined Arms Support Command. Col. Usrey’s operational and combat deployments include Operation (RESTORE) UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, Joint Task Force-Bravo, Operation JOINT GUARDIAN, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM I, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 07-09, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM XII, and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM XIV.
Col. Usrey is a native of Martin, Tenn. and has more than 29 years of military service.