Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Mr. George Jackson

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class David J. Schuhlein

Mr. George Jackson (left) with friends from the TV show Deadliest Catch. Photo courtesy

 

For nearly 35 years, George Jackson has had a very special mission for the U.S. military.

Each holiday season for more than three decades, his deep appreciation for the men and women of the armed forces has guided his passion: to bring happiness and cheer to those whom he most respected.

“I’m a volunteer,” said Jackson. “I don’t do it for the money, I do it to make people happy.”

The southern Maryland native who spent his summers on tobacco farms has spent more than half his life bringing cheer to the ‘troops’ as he refers to members of the U.S. military.

He got his start playing Santa Clause with the Maryland National Guard in 1979. No matter what the request, ‘Mr. George’ as he’s affectionately known, would do just about anything to be there for the troops, including defying the orders of his doctor who since 2006 has advised Mr. George to take it easy and travel less. He hasn’t!

But what Mr. George has become most popular for within the U.S. military are his famed Christmas scrolls.

Picture from the Coast Guard Cutter Healy with Mr. George Jackson’s Christmas scroll spread out by the crew. Photo courtesy of Master Chief Joe Passalacqua.

Starting in 1994 with a roll of paper he took from his wife’s painting paper, the Christmas scrolls, which are packed full of hand-written messages to the troops from Americans back home, have become welcomed additions to the walls and tents of troops serving overseas and deployed around the world.

He once filled over 300 feet of paper from all over Maryland, traveling in his truck for months and with six tables and two pop-up tents. Mr. George would setup shop at festivals and county fairs with pictures of and memorabilia from the troops and he would then encourage patrons to send heart-felt messages to military by writing with the colorful markers he provides.

In 2005, he spread his holiday cheer to the U.S. Coast Guard by dedicating his first Christmas scroll to a Coast Guard unit.

Since Mr. George spends most of his effort on sending his scrolls to deployed units, he laments on how some American’s were unaware of the Coast Guard’s role overseas in the waters near Iraq and other locations in the Middle East.

“I had a nice lady who saw my scrolls laid out on my tables for each branch of the military deployed to Iraq,” said Jackson. “She noticed the Coast Guard scroll and said I’m not signing that… there are no Coast Guard over there.”

DSCN0406

Photo of Coast Guard personnel from RAID Team 8 in Afghanistan holding Mr. George Jackson’s Christmas scroll. Photo courtesy of Chief Daniel Kinville

He said after she walked away, two young Marines who overheard her conversation with Mr. George and asked him if he minded if they corrected her politely. He obliged. The young Marines then proceeded to share a story with the woman of how Coast Guard cutters and small boats patrolled the waters in the Middle East and regularly were in harms way protecting the Navy and Marine Corps in their transit in out of the combat zone.

A proud moment for Mr. George is when he receives a letter back from units that he sends scrolls too.

“Over the years, I’ve gotten to know these folks just from their letters,” said Jackson. “It’s something I can’t describe, when I get a letter back,” he added.

Coast Guard wit…ta's scroll

One such unit was the Cutter Healy, which proudly sent pictures of the 419-foot scroll he sent stretched out on the ice in the Artic with the whole crew there.

As for Mr. George, at 66 he’s happy to continue sending Christmas scrolls to the troops and looks forward to receiving letters from the U.S. military personnel stationed throughout the globe.

We think it’s fitting this holiday season to recognize Mr. George Jackson as this week’s Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty for the Coast Guard. Bravo Zulu and thank you, Mr. George, for your support!

sonny & santa

From Nov. 7th, 1997, first visit to the U.S. Capitol as Santa, with the late Sonny Bono signing the scroll for Troops in Bosnia. Photo courtesy of Mr. George Jackson.

LETTER FROM USCG

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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