“Garryowen” will honor the life of one of its recently-lost troops on Monday, celebrating the life of a soldier who earlier in the year helped lead their team to an overall fourth-place finish at the Gainey Cup, the competition for the world’s best cavalry scout team.
Jermaul Terrance Sledge, 31, posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant first class, died at his Killeen residence Nov. 14. He was a cavalry scout with Blackhawk Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen,” 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
The unit will hold a memorial in his honor at 1 p.m. Monday at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.
Sledge’s loss was devastating to the entire unit, said Staff Sgt. Joshua McCartney, cavalry scout platoon sergeant for the troop’s Red Platoon.
“He was a great guy — he just made it simple for everybody to understand what was going on,” McCartney said. “No matter what you needed, he was there to help. He would bend over backward for you, and if he didn’t know the answer to a question, he was going to get it for you.”
For one soldier who had worked for Sledge since 2016, news of his death shook him to his core.
“There hasn’t been a (time) we hadn’t spoken for more than two or three days at a time in the last nearly four years,” said Sgt. Joey Patterson, a cavalry scout. “He had a heart of gold, would give you the shirt off his back. He’s always been there for me.”
Patterson said Sledge was the person everyone could count on.
“Up until the day he wasn’t here anymore, he was someone I looked up to and counted on,” he said, adding that Sledge’s death hit him harder than his own father’s death had. “He would brighten up any room he walked in to.”
The troop learned about Sledge’s death while in formation, Patterson said. Sledge was such an integral part of the unit, the troop commander was unable to relay the information without breaking down himself.
Sledge was a “scout’s scout” who was determined to make every single scout within the unit the best possible scout they could be, he said.
One of those scouts who benefitted from Sledge’s leadership had been part of the team which represented the 1st Cavalry Division at the Gainey Cup Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia, in April.
“We started training around November in Germany, when we started having our first competitions,” said Spc. Sylvia Gielarowiec, a cavalry scout who served as the gunner for Sledge’s Gainey Cup team. “When we came back (from the unit’s Europe rotation), we kept training and then went to Georgia to represent the 1st Cav. We got fourth place in the world — definitely because of him. We were doing E-7 (sergeant first class) level stuff, and I was a Pfc. (private first class) at the time this all started. A little private sticking E-7 knowledge in my head because of him.”
Sledge had the team running 10 miles a day, ruck marching and running through the Air Assault Course to prepare for the competition, she said. His mentorship helped her to become a better soldier and cavalry scout.
“He just taught me a lot. He made a big impact on how I will progress my career,” Gielarowiec said. “I’ll never forget that.”
According to his obituary, Sledge is survived by parents Joyce Dove of Sierra Vista, Arizona, and John Sledge Jr. of Vero Beach, Florida; his brother Dwayne Lucas, sister Nicole Roberts and newest siblings to the family sisters Uushall Smith, Sativea Dove and brother Franklin Dove II.
Jermaul Sledge was buried with full military honors at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on Monday.
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