A Tennessee National Guard soldier recently touched the hearts of thousands after a photo of him standing outside his car in the pouring rain to salute a funeral procession has gone viral.
The photo of Col. Jack L. Usrey was taken by Erin Hester and posted to her Facebook and Instagram pages on July 6. As of Tuesday, her Facebook post had more than 195,000 reactions and nearly 134,000 “shares” and more than 9,000 comments.
“I was so completely touched by this today. A funeral procession was passing by and this soldier got out of his jeep to stand at attention in the pouring rain,” Hester wrote. “This made my heart happy to see the amount of respect that this gentleman showed a family that he doesn’t even know.”
Usrey is the senior Army advisor to the adjutant general at Tennessee National Guard Headquarters in Nashville, according to the U.S. Army, which was recently able to identify the soldier after “a mutual friend at Fort Knox contacted Hester and said the fort knew the identity of the soldier in the photo, and then contacted Usrey.”
Usrey said he was driving, met a funeral procession, stopped, got out of his vehicle and paid his respects, the Army reported.
“I didn’t really think,” Usrey said. “I just did what my parents taught me to do growing up. I stopped, got out, saluted the police escort and held my salute as the hearse and family passed by, then went on my way and didn’t give it a second thought.”
Usrey is a native of Martin, Tennessee, with more than 29 years of military service.
Since enlisting in the National Guard in 1988, Usrey has served in multiple roles ranging from tank platoon leader to Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), the Army reported. His numerous operational and combat deployments have taken him all over the world, including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
Throughout his nearly three decades of service, the moral values that Usrey learned from his parents have only been strengthened by his time in the Army. For Usrey, who strives to demonstrate humility, honor and respect in his daily life, the rapid ascent of the photo was surprising, the Army said.
“Two days later, I saw the photo hit Facebook – since then it’s exploded,” Usrey said, according to the Army. “It’s baffling to me that something so simple caused so much attention. I guess it goes to show how simple it would be for our nation to be more united if we just treated each other using the Golden Rule.”