Knowing full-well the dangers of their chosen profession, they volunteer to serve something greater than themselves. They make up less than one percent of the United States population, serving their community and country. And they would give their lives to protect those they've never met. They are the women and men of the United States military.
Our intrepid Service Members don't serve for fame or glory--it's what they feel called to do. They forgo personal ambition in the private sector for a lifetime of service to others. And some of the Nation's most exceptional military personnel are proud members of the Chiefs Kingdom.
The Chiefs have a long history of supporting our troops at home and abroad. That tradition continues this season through the "Tribute to the Troops" program at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, which recognizes exceptional military service, heroism, or courage.
This Thursday, Missouri Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jesse Messersmith will be recognized as the "Tribute to the Troops" honoree presented by Crown Royal during the Chiefs' home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. It was Messersmith's heroic actions two years ago that garnered this humble Soldier the recognition he'll receive this week in front of a packed Arrowhead Stadium crowd at GEHA Field.
On the morning of Aug. 20, 2020, Staff Sgt. Messersmith was driving to work northbound on Highway 63 just outside of Westphalia, Mo. Messersmith observed a vehicle travelling at high speed, swerving off the road, then crashing into a tree and catching fire.
Without concern for his own safety, the brave Missouri Army Guardsman parked his car and raced to the accident site on foot. He began one of several attempts to extract the initially unresponsive victim from the fiery wreck while trying to flag down other vehicles passing by to assist him. No one else stopped.
Messersmith's steely determination, cool head, and quick action paid off, eventually extracting the now-conscious victim from the burning vehicle. The Vienna, Mo., native would drag the wounded driver up an embankment and to a safe distance from the flaming wreck until the Westphalia volunteer fire department arrived and began extinguishing the flames. Both the victim and Messersmith would live to tell their story.
It wasn't until just after the incident that the Army non-commissioned officer realized he'd been wounded. During the minutes-long ordeal, Messersmith had become slightly injured when the vehicles' tires began exploding from the intense heat, peppering the Sergeant's face with bits of debris.
When asked why he stopped at the scene of the crash that day Messersmith said, "It has to do with why I enlisted in the first place: I just wanted to help others, and the Army National Guard provided me with an opportunity to do that."
Messersmith joined the Missouri Army National Guard on Oct. 29, 2009, at the age of 17.
"I was nine years old when 9/11 happened. That moment is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to join. I always had an interest in joining the Army, but 9/11 was what motivated me the most. I continue to serve in the Army National Guard, because through the Guard, I can help my community here in Missouri as well as communities overseas who need help too."
Staff Sergeant Messersmith is assigned to Joint Force Headquarters in Jefferson City, Mo., where he currently serves as the unit supply sergeant – military speak for the person responsible for unit logistics, shipping and receiving.
"My job is to ensure all the troops have what they need to conduct their mission," said Messersmith.
In his leisure time, the Army Staff Sgt. enjoys spending time with his wife Jessica, also a Sergeant in the Missouri Guard, and their three boys Dreygen,11, Eli, 10, and Jansen, 4.
Moreover--the Messersmith family is excited about the home opener too.
"We have never attended a professional sporting event ever so being able to visit [GEHA Field at] Arrowhead this week alone is going to be a cool experience," he shared. "But being acknowledged for my service to my country in front of my family at my first football game is something I would have never imagined. I'm very thankful for all those who recognized me for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm grateful to the Kansas City Chiefs for the opportunity to do it here."