Pride in Uniform: Strom looks back


In high school, one thing was absolutely clear to Jesse Strom: service to your country is one of the duties of an American citizen. When the time came, he was not drafted nor forced to enter. In 1972, at a young age Strom did what he was taught was the rights and duty of an American citizen and joined the Vietnam War as an aviation electronics technician. More than 35 years later, Strom is a Lake Braddock geometry teacher, yet his time in service as a petty officer remains with him.

“There was no guarantee that flights would return successfully,” Strom said. “I learned to be thankful every time a crew would land and to say a prayer for the crews that did not.”

Even though the Vietnam War was a difficult test for the toughest of soldiers, Strom and his crew still found ways to smile and enjoy each other’s company. One day at the Marine Corps Air Station, an unexpected glitch occurred in the navigation system, causing a delay, Strom said. The Marine pilot began to lose all shreds of the little patience he had left.

“The Marine pilot barked at the line gunnery sergeant with whom I was working, ‘What’s the problem Marine?!’ to which the gunny snapped a brisk salute in response, “No problems, sir….just challenges and opportunities,’” Strom recalled.  “So, too, can gunny’s example be a model of life here at Lake Braddock – No problems, just challenges and opportunities.”

Strom’s time in service gave him a new perspective on teaching at Lake Braddock. He experienced firsthand the sacrifice of military families, and he still gives them his utmost respect and admiration at LB, Strom said.  Not only did he learn from the gunny’s comment about taking advantage of all “challenges and opportunities”, but also he was taught how to help students achieve in life and in the classroom.

“While serving every day I would witness ordinary people accomplish the extraordinary,” Strom said. “So I learned to look for that special something in every person especially here at Lake Braddock where each student can grow from the ordinary to the accomplished.”

Now, Strom takes these same philosophies and turns them into lessons for his students to learn and grow from.