Columbia, SC — The death of Ike McLeese, one of Fort Jackson’s dearest friends and strongest supporters, hit this installation hard.
The words escape me on how to properly express how saddened our soldiers, civilians and family members are by Ike’s death. I have not been here that long, but I have been around long enough to learn and understand the fact that Ike was a staunch advocate for Fort Jackson and of our men and women in uniform in general. We have lost a friend, a partner and a great American.
He will be dearly missed.
As many of you know, Ike was the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, a position that embodied all of his strong feelings for the military and, in this prestigious position, put all of them into motion. In this role, he represented the secretary of the Army at numerous funerals in South Carolina for fallen soldiers.
Others in the command group were quick to point out that Ike was a tremendous community force for both Columbia and Fort Jackson.
Deputy Commander Col. Stephen Yackley put it this way: “His love for the military and especially Fort Jackson had a tremendous career impact on all of us here at Fort Jackson. In his duties as the President and CEO of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, he was instrumental in Columbia being recognized as the most military friendly community in America.”
Next door, Scott Nahrwold, our deputy garrison commander, who knew Ike extremely well over the years, said Ike’s positive impact on the fort was “impossible to overstate.”
“Throughout our 17-year personal and professional relationship, he demonstrated a deep and enduring commitment to the future of Fort Jackson, and worked tirelessly to enhance and strengthen the extraordinary relationship that exists among the greater Columbia area and the installation.”
As one of Fort Jackson’s former commanders, Maj. Gen. Bradley W. May, now deputy commanding general of initial military training, in Fort Eustis, Va., recalled: “No one cared more about Soldiers, civilians, and family members than Ike McLeese. He went above and beyond with his outreach. We salute him as his legacy lives on.”
People such as Ike are extremely rare and valuable. As soldiers, we are taught to be tough, to be resilient and to know how to pick ourselves up when we are down, and then press forward through the most difficult of times.
Unfortunately, for all of us here at Fort Jackson, this is going to be one of those most difficult of times.
Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker
Commander, U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson