By SALLY SEXTON
Weatherford’s Joyce Jackson calls her time in the Navy one of her greatest blessings.
Though she enlisted a little later than some, at the age of 41, it didn’t diminish her experience.
“I still laugh when I think about how it all came about,” Jackson said of her initial interest in joining.
Jackson was working at Northeast National Bank in North Richland Hills. Her son, in the Army, was stationed in Alaska, while her oldest daughter worked in Colorado and her younger daughter was a senior in high school.
After a particularly stressful day at work in March of 1980, Jackson had had enough.
“I threw some papers on my desk and jokingly said, ‘I’m going to run away and join the Army. It has to be more fun than this,’” she said.
To her surprise, Jackson’s co-worker told her about a friend who had joined the Navy and loved it.
During a break at work, Jackson called the friend, who informed her about the Advanced Pay Grade system, which accepts older people based on their civilian occupations.
“I had always wanted to fly, so I first called the Air Force but they didn’t have the same program and I was considered too old to fly,” Jackson said. “I called a Navy recruiter and he agreed to send me some information.”
Jackson went home to talk to her husband and son, who was a little surprised when Jackson asked him about joining the Navy.
“He said ‘I don’t care if that’s what you want to do,” she said. “Of course, he immediately began calling me ‘Squid.’”
One month before her 42nd birthday and the cut-off age to join the armed forces, Jackson went to Grand Prairie to take the enlistment exam. With no opening in the banking-related field, Jackson spoke with a Reserve Intelligence Program officer after finding out she had scored high enough to be involved in Intelligence.