By Nadin Abbott / East County Magazine / Jan. 12, 2012
January 12, 2012 (San Diego)—U.S. Army Master Sergeant Jay Polk has reportedly been killed overseas while on active duty with U.S. special forces, according to friends and family in San Diego, where he had been living recently.
During a candlelight memorial service held this evening at the Civic Center Plaza, one mourner observed, “Jay was a Cavalryman, he was a Master Sergeant, and he knew how to take care of people.” The service was attended by local veterans, occupy members, and friends of the fallen soldier.
Word of Polk’s death came as a shock to local members of Occupy San Diego, where Polk was known as “Chef” from the early days, helping to prepare and serve 500 to 1,000 meals a day for homeless people and Occupy members—anyone who needed a meal.
The U.S. Department of Defense has not yet published news of Polk’s death, however such confirmation is commonly delayed in special forces operations. The family has told friends locally, however, that they are awaiting delivery of his body in Virginia and he is expected to be laid to rest next week at his hometown in New Iberia Louisiana. Raised in Mississippi, Polk leaves behind a family including young children in Louisiana.
In the Army, he first served with a Cavalry unit out of Fort Campbell Kentucky and later, with the United States Special Operations Command, according to friends and his own Facebook page, which has since been removed from the Internet. In January, he informed friends that he was being deployed again overseas. The location and cause of his death while on active duty have not yet been made public.
Chaplain Ron, who has ministered to the Occupy members, grew up in Barksdale, Mississippi town as Polk where the families knew each other. Polk left that town when he joined the Army. “Twelve days ago, he asked me to pray for him and said that he was worried,” he recalled. Polk had just learned of his deployment, but said that “he could not divulge anything, since it was really secretive.” Polk said his goodbyes to friends in San Diego just days before news came of his demise.
At today’s memorial service, a Veterans for Peace member read the poem, Fidler’s Green, to honor Polk’s service in the Cavalry. He also read the Special Forces Prayer, in honor of Polk’s active duty service with the U.S. Special Operations Command. .
His friends spoke highly of Master Sergeant Polk. To Kayla Ward, he was “like a brother. Jay was like family. I was very close to him, his partner, Julie and his children.”
According to Janessa Jones, “Jay sacrificed his time and money to help others. I got to know him and was devastated when I found out. He deserves so much more than this, love and light and healing energy to their family. Their pain is just beginning.” Jones also played music in his honor.
Military veterans present formed an honor detail to salute the colors brought by a member of the Patriot Guard, then released Master Sergeant Jay Polk from his duty and saluted the flag.
A Veterans for Peace member concluded that his fellow Cavalryman, Master Sergeant Jay Polk, was “a man of honor.”