Staff Sergeant Jacob McClinton shares his service as an Army Ranger



A day to honor the veterans that have served. The first Veteran’s day was observed on October 25, 2019. This Veteran’s day Sergeant McClinton came to speak to U.S. History classes about his service and memories as an Army Ranger.

Sadie Rawlings and Kayleigh Emberton

U.S. history classes file into the seats of the Performing Arts Center (PAC) as they await a special visit from an American veteran. As the presentation begins, the student-helpers instruct the students in the PAC to stand and place their right hand on their hearts as the Ethan Barrilleaux plays the bugle call, “Taps.” This melody originated as a “lights-out” signal to soldiers at night, and now, is performed at military funerals and memorials. Ben Hempker then introduces Staff Sergeant Jacob McClinton, a former army ranger.

McClinton started his career at the University of North Georgia and then decided to join the Army as an airborne ranger. He completed Basic Training and other ranger schools. After Basic Training, he was on track to be deployed to Iraq, but three weeks before deployment, the army reassigned him to Afghanistan. As he worked in one of the most conflicted areas in the world, he helped build a road between two Afghan city valleys so people could travel safely. He also helped develop hydroelectric technology to power food mills, so natives could create reliable food storage. After spending 27 months in Afghanistan, McClinton spent time deployed in Syria, Iran, Cambodia, Italy, and other countries. Staff Sergeant continued to serve and spend time in Europe as he became part of a focus targeting force and ran reconnaissance in order to support European allies. 

Staff Sergeant McClinton spent time in Italy training to be a sniper. Though the media portrays being a sniper as a job full of exciting adventures, it is not what it seems. Sniper training includes hours of dragging dirt and preparing coverings for their position. After preparations, snipers and their spotters must stay quiet and still until their mission is complete. The importance of this job lies in their ability to not engage with their targets. Through rain, snow, heat, and cold, these men are challenged to stay put in their position until told otherwise. After many years of serving and commanding a group of young soldiers, McClinton decided it was time to diversify his resume. Staff Sergeant McClinton taught tactics in mountainous terrain. Though it was his least favorite out of swamp, mountain, and urban, he decided that teaching it would be enough to make his military career stand out.

Continuing to diversify his military portfolio, he attended a 5th ranger school in Dahlonega, GA, and there, he decided to retire from the military. He spent time touring with a band and went back to his former college, University of North Georgia and studied sound engineering. Currently, he works as a sound engineer.

All in all, he said that the military inspired him to perform his best because he was working with brave people.

After he finished telling about his military career, he opened the presentation up to the audience and allowed the students to ask questions about his life. Some students inquired about his ability to connect with the locals in the countries where he was deployed, and his advice was to show trust as to best represent America. Other students inquired about the band of which he was a member.  

“It was really cool to learn about what the veteran did as a ranger and the places he has gone,” commented junior Blaise Carroll.

Kayleigh Emberton
A display of many items representing veterans and our country. On this table, flags, pillows, and a license plate sits, drawing in the curious eyes of students entering the PAC. Staff Sergeant McClinton had many stories to share with curious students Monday, November 11.

This experience strengthened SOFO students’ perspectives on Veteran’s Day as they gained insight into what life in the military is like. Sergeant McClinton was open about his experiences and memories in the countries he was stationed at such as workouts through Italian streets, citizens attacked soldiers with pig’s blood, squad bonding, and civilians throwing around opinions. Veteran’s Day is an important military holiday where people in the United States honor the time and effort of each and every American soldier who has fought for this country. Thanks to Sergeant McClinton, more people are able to appreciate and understand the sacrifices soldiers make when fighting for their country.