Remembering the Life and Memory of...
Sgt. Jamal M. Rhett
Hometown: Palmyra, New Jersey, U.S.
Age: 24 years old
Died: August 15, 2010 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Army, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Birth: Jan. 5, 1986
Death: Aug. 15, 2010, Iraq
Sgt. Jamal M. Rhett, 24, of Palmyra, N.J., died Aug. 15 in Ba Qubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with grenades. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Sergeant Rhett leaves to cherish his memories: his loving mother, Michelle Watson; his father, Thornell Rhett; siblings, Tonya, Jason, and Tamisha; one great aunt, Josie Watson of Savannah, GA; three great uncles, Daniel(Rosemary) Watson and Charles(Shirley) Watson, both of Sylvania, GA, and James(Shirley) Watson of Savannah, GA.; one uncle, Samuel(Linda) Watson of Dayton, OH; eight aunts, Ada(Levi) Dock of Alexander, GA; Jeannette(Jesse)Miles of Sylvania, GA; Rena(Ronald) Matthews of Savannah, GA; Margie(George)Young of Statesboro, GA; Sonya Winters, Sadie Reid and Julie Reid, all of Philadelphia, and Annie Sue Rhett-Johnson of St. George, SC; two step uncles, Pete and Michael Reid of Philadelphia, PA; one step aunt, Marie Reid of Philadelphia, PA.; a special and devoted friend, Anthony Keesee; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Chelten Hills Cemetery
Specialist Rhett was a dedicated and loyal soldier, son, nephew, grandson and friend to his fellow soldiers, family, and friends. There was nothing more important to this young soldier. He made sure he kept in contact with all of them any time he was able via phone, mail and facebook. That being said, he posted such wonderful things to his facebook like his hobbies which included basketball with Kobe Bryant being his favorite player, his favorite television show was Boondocks, he loved tastykakes and this quote which literally brought tears to my eyes: “2009 has been a difficult year with much adversity. God has been very good to me. He gave me strength to get passed things that some people would have crumbled if they dealt with it. Faith in myself and faith in God was all I needed. 2010 is going to be a good year.”
Jamal was particularly very close to his Mom, Michelle Watson and his aunt, Sonya Winters. Mom, Michelle says, after arriving home from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on the 17th, “He was my knight in shining armor.” “I not only loved him as my son, but I liked him.” “We had such a wonderful relationship as a Mother and son.” Aunt Sonya says “he was a funny and loving nephew and he always made sure he had lots of contact with his family.
Originally from Philadelphia, he moved to Palmyra with his mother at the age of 11. Jamal graduated from the Burlington County Institute of Technology in 2003 and pursued a year in college at Bloomfield College. He decided he wanted to head his career in the medical field so he enlisted in the Army as Combat Medic. Jamal’s mom said he decided to join the Army after his maternal grandmother’s death. They were very close and he thought joining the service would be a good way to honor her. Sadly, Jamal stated that when he announced to friends, that he had known since the 3rd grade, that he was joining the service, they “quit hanging with him.”
Just days before his death, which was also literally days before US troops were to be pulled from ‘combat role,’ Jamal passed the promotion board. He would be promoted to Sgt Jamal Rhett in just a few short months, the last conversation that he had with his mom. Jamal was the 14th person with Burlington County ties to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since the armed conflicts started.
This being Jamal’s second tour in Iraq as a Combat Medic, his Division Spokesman, Lt. Col. Sean Wilson stated, “he may not have had family here in Hawaii, but we were like his family. His death is like losing a brother.”
Just days shy of returning home from war, Jamal was looking forward to vacationing alone to Paris or London, were two places he was tossing ideas around. He just wanted to “get away from it all.” One itsy bitsy problem with those two places is that Jamal loved to travel but he hated to fly. I can see how that might pose a little issue. His family would often inquire what he was going through and he would never discuss any details from the war. He would only say to them, “I don’t want to talk about it, but I’ve seen things here that I never want to see again.”