Earlier this Memorial Day morning a friend posted a link on Facebook to a Vietnam War Memorial page listing all those who died in that ugly war. As far as I know, and I truly hope I am not forgetting someone, none of the members of my immediate family lost their lives in Vietnam. I decided to take a look at the Vietnam Memorial page to see if any Jagers had died there. And this is where I came across the name Roland Vincent Jager, Jr.
I did some research on the Internet to see what I could learn about Roland. It’s amazing what you can find in just a few clicks. I learned Roland spent part of his life living in Stockton, Calif., which is just an hour south of here, and where I have traveled to several times for meetings for work.
Roland was born on July 31, 1944. He was the oldest of five sons. His father, Roland, Sr., was a Lieutenant Colonel. In addition to Stockton, Roland’s family also lived in Southern Pines , N.C., when his father, a pilot, was stationed at Fort Bragg. Roland’s mother’s name was Margaret (coincidentally I had an Aunt Margaret), who, according to Roland’s obituary, was active in the Boy Scouts, which makes sense if you had five boys. In Roland’s photo he has short black hair, dark eyes and is wearing a white sweatshirt. He looks like he could have been an athlete, a football player perhaps or a wrestler. He has just a hint of a smile and is, well, quite handsome. I bet he made a few ladies swoon.
Roland was a private first class in the U.S. Army and served in the military police (his maternal grandfather was a chief of police). Roland died on Dec. 6, 1964, at age 20. He was listed as single, which must mean not married, although that’s not to say he did not have a significant other back home. His parents received the news of his death while they were attending his uncle’s funeral. How awful that must have been for his parents. The listed cause of death – a reported suicide or self inflicted injury. On the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund site http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/25468/ROLAND-V-JAGER-JR page for Roland one of his fellow soldiers said he knew Roland, and that they had only been together for a few months in Nha Trang when this happened.
Of course I don’t know the details of his death. Did Roland have a history of depression? Back then there was far less knowledge about depression and even fewer treatment options, and an even bigger stigma that still lingers today. Roland is buried in San Francisco in Golden Gate National Cemetary. One day I think I will go pay my respects.
Roland was one of many, many young men and women who have lost their lives to protect our country, our way of life and to preserve our freedom. Rest in Peace Roland Vincent Jager, Jr.