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Staff Sgt. Oliveira
By Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General - New Jersey

In April, I travelled to Camp Atterbury, Ind. to spend some time with the Security Forces Platoon of the 113th Infantry before they deployed for a challenging mission in Afghanistan.

I've made dozens of these visits in my time as The Adjutant General, but they never get any easier. The men and women I meet are about to go into harm's way and when I look into their eyes, I want to know they are going to take care of each other.

I got the reassurance I needed when I met Staff Sgt. Jorge Oliveira. He was one of the most seasoned and experienced NCOs on the deployment and when he told me he would look after the

Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, right, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, shakes hands with Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira during the Yellow Ribbon Ceremony at the Lawrencevile Armory on March 6. (Photo by Mark C. Olsen, DMAVA Public Affairs)
younger Soldiers, I knew he would.

Oliveira was a great leader, a great role model, a great Soldier and a great American.

He died on Oct. 19 while conducting route reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan. He died as he served, leading from the front, putting the safety of his troops ahead of his own.

For those of you were unable to attend Oliveira's funeral, I can assure you it was an appropriate tribute to a Soldier who was simply an American hero.

Gov. Christie, who spoke at Oliveira's funeral, may have put it best when he said simply: "He gave it all."

The Oliveira family emigrated from Portugal when the staff sergeant was 7. The family settled in the Ironbound Section of Newark. Oliveira learned English in less than six months, his family said.

Oliveira joined the Army in 1997 as an infantryman, serving three years with the 101st Airborne Division. When he returned to New Jersey after his threeyear enlistment, Oliveira took the civil service exam to become a law enforcement officer and scored so well he was flooded with job offers. He chose to become an Essex County Sheriff's officer. In 2003, Oliveira joined the New Jersey National Guard family.

Soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard Funeral Detail prepare to carry the casket of Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark on Oct. 28 as Gov. Chris Christie, right, and Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, second from right observe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

In his time in the National Guard, Oliveira simply did it all.

He served on a detainee operations mission to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2004, in response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans the following year and deployed to Iraq with the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2008-2009.

Last year, when it became clear that operations in Afghanistan required a New Jersey Army Guard Security Forces platoon for a sensitive mission assisting a provincial reconstruction team, Oliveira volunteered.

Oliveira had been scheduled for leave at Christmas. In a conversation with his mother the day before he died, Oliveira, who was not married, told her he had given his leave slot to another Soldier who has young children.

In that conversation with his mother, Oliveira had talked about why he served.

"Ma, this country has given us so much, I got to give something back," he told her.

Table of Contents
Volume 35 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2011 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs