U.S. Army Sgt. Stephen Jackel joined the military in 2008. During his time in the service, Jackel was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan where he received countless awards, including a Purple Heart. In addition, Jackel’s unit was presented with a Valorous Unit Award.
While on convoy in Afghanistan on August 23, 2011, Jackel was injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded underneath his RG31 vehicle. The force of the blast knocked Jackel out. When Jackel came to he realized that he was trapped inside the burning vehicle, along with his team members. While attempting to escape and save the lives of several soldiers, Jackel used his amputated leg to put out the flames around him before finding an exit through the hatch at the top of the vehicle. With the hatch open, he quickly assisted others out of the burning vehicle. The blast left Jackel with severe injuries, including bilateral below the knee amputations and a traumatic brain injury. He also received multiple soft tissue injuries from shrapnel.
Although Stephen had two prosthetic legs, he never let it stop him. He truly had the Spirit of a Hero. Stephen Jackel was larger than life and known as "The Motivator". He had a heart of gold, a contagious smile and laugh, and gave the best hugs known to man. We lost Jackel on January 3, 2018 but his memory will live on in us forever.
We are proud to posthumously name Sgt Stephen Jackel as the 2018 Spirit of a Hero Recipient.