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It’s not easy being a soldier and student at Ohlone College, but Sergeant First Class Jason Manella has done so through hard work, dedication and a focus on achieving excellence, as he has done with so many other accomplishments in his life. For the past eight years, Sergeant Manella has alternated between classes, his monthly duties as a reservist and two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as part of his service responsibilities. He surmounted a traumatic injury, a result of combat, which required hospitalization and therapy; and amassed a considerable number of awards and medals along the way. This semester, his final at Ohlone, his GPA is a stunning 3.9.
While enrolled at Ohlone, he was deployed with Bravo Company, 455th Civil Affairs Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice. He then did a third combat tour with Delta Company of the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion in Afghanistan. In 2013, he survived explosions of numerous homemade bombs while working throughout southern Afghanistan as an Army Reserve Civil Affairs Specialist, building bridges with the local population. It was discovered that he had undergone traumatic brain injury when he began to experience dizziness, worsening headaches, and memory lapses.
Sergeant Manella underwent therapy for his injuries, eventually combining the therapy with training for the Department of the Army Best Warrior competitions.During 2013, he participated in a series of competitions leading up to the Best Warrior Competition, winning along the way: 351st Civil Affairs Command Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year and the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, both in April of that year. In June 2013, he won the United States Army Reserve Command Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
Then in November 2013, he participated in, and won, the United States Army Reserve Command Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year title during the Army’s Best Warrior Competition, making him the first Army Reservist to win the Army-wide title. Sergeant Manella also holds a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Campaign Medals from both Afghan and Iraq, and several more. In addition, he carries a Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, Expert Marksman Badge, and Rifle Badge. In recognition of his scholarly achievements and service to his country, Sergeant Manella was honored at the Ohlone College Board of Trustees Meeting. At that time, he was presented two resolutions from the City of Fremont and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. “I believe a place like Ohlone Community College is a great place to help foster a student’s dreams, get them on track, help them pursue their goals and guide them along their way,” he said of his educational career at Ohlone. “I’m incredibly thankful to be a product of this college, and I will always cherish the education, the mentorship and memories I have from being here.”
He credits Ohlone College for providing him the support that got him through the difficulties of being called away for duties many semesters in a row and having to pick up where he left off upon his return. In particular, he thanked the counselors in the Veteran’s Affair Office who helped him with his GI Bill benefits and registration, and instructors who took many office hours to help him catch up on work he missed while serving his reserve time. Sergeant Manella was a product of Washington High in Fremont where he entered the United States Army Reserve in 2003.