GRANTS, N.M. - "We gotta do what we gotta do. That's what we signed up for," said Mess Specialist Second Class Everette Jole, a reservist and member of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Twenty-two Detachment 03 (NMCB-22). Jole was responding to the strong possibility of activation in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Originally from Mexican Springs, N.M., Jole, Navajo, enlisted in 1984 in the Navy as a Bostwain's Mate and spent four years aboard the U.S.S Suribachi (AE-21), an ammunition supply ship. He finished his enlistment in 1988 and returned to New Mexico, where he worked as a cook for the Gallup-McKinley County Public School system. He rose to management, with his own kitchen at the elementary level, after only two months of employment with the county. Presently he works at the Main Street Grill and Barbeque in Grants, N.M. as a cook/manager. He said his employer is 100 percent supportive of his reserve duties.
Jole, nicknamed Cookie, re-enlisted into the reserves last year, something he talked about with his wife, Bernadine, for many years. Known as Seabees, Navy construction battalion personnel build and defend airstrips, temporary and permanent buildings and military camps.
He has two daughters, Amber, 9 and Erin, 4. His family is proud and supportive of their dad's military service, which is a family tradition. An uncle, Wilsie H. Bitsie, served as a Marine and was one of the original 29 members of the Navajo Code Talkers. "He also was a teacher of the code," said Jole, "and spent time in Saipan, the Guadal Canal, Guam and places like that."
Bitsie passed recently, so Jole accompanied his aunt to Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal bestowed on the Code Talkers by the United States Congress, one of its highest honors, two years ago.
"I felt very proud. I got all teary eyed. I just wished my uncle had been there to receive it himself," said Jole.