Army's Jackson remembered for life of 'promise and purpose'
NEW YORK - Ten bus-loads of Army cadets attended funeral services Monday for teammate and classmate Brandon Jackson, the sophomore cornerback remembered for his uplifting smile, quiet confidence and for a life filled with ''promise and purpose.''
Hundreds gathered to mourn Jackson, killed in a single-car crash, at the Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, not far from the St. Albans neighborhood where Jackson grew up. Among those who spoke were U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, football coach Jeff Monken and team captain and linebacker Andrew King.
''You will never have to worry years from now if this group of men will remember your son,'' Caslen said to Jackson's mother Morna Davis, an Iraq war veteran of the Army reserves and New York Police Department detective. ''You may have lost Brandon but you have gained about 120 new sons. And about 4,000 cadets.''
Dozens of members of the NYPD attended the service.
The fatal accident occurred in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, about 20 miles south of the West Point campus in Westchester County, according to police and the Academy. The crash, which remains under investigation, happened several hours after Army had defeated Rice in the Black Knights' home opener at Michie Stadium.
The Black Knights improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1996 this past Saturday with a 66-14 victory at UTEP.
Jackson earned a starting job as a freshman and had 68 career tackles and three interceptions. He pushed teammates to work beyond what was required on the practice field and the weight room, King said.
''Brandon embodied everything it means to be part of this brotherhood,'' King said. ''Because of him, we're not afraid of failure.''
Monken said Jackson had a disarming smile and was fun to coach.
Even after a mistake on the field, Monken said, ''I couldn't stay mad at him.''
The program mourners received at the church called the service a ''Celebration of a Life Full of Promise and Purpose.'' Jackson was laid to rest in his dress gray uniform and white cap.
Jackson attended Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens, a school with a tradition of playing some of the best football in New York City. Recent graduates include former Stanford receiver Devon Cajuste and Carolina Panthers safety Dean Marlowe.
Current players from Holy Cross, most wearing their bright green football jerseys, attended the service with coach Tim Smith and former longtime coach Tom Pugh.
Pugh, who retired after the 2014 season, said he went to West Point to watch Jackson in the Army spring game this year. The old coach said he told Jackson he expected his former player to make an interception during the intrasquad scrimmage.
''And he started laughing,'' Pugh said. ''He goes, `Coach, this is Army. We don't throw the ball.'
''And guess what, he got a pick in the spring game. He pointed up to the seats where I was. He was special. Special young man.''
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