In a Jan. 20 Tweet, recently retired NFL player J.J. Watt announced that Fort Bragg’s Sgt. Jackson Bond will be in Arizona for the Super Bowl.
“While I may have stepped away from the NFL, I’ll never step away from supporting our military and veterans,” Watt said in a statement.
Watt said “it’s a privilege” to work with USAA and the 82nd Airborne Division Association to send Bond to the Super Bowl.
“I’m looking forward to meeting him in Phoenix during Super Bowl weekend,” Watt said.
Bond is a reconnaissance infantryman assistant team leader for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Speaking by video call Friday, Bond described the past year as a whirlwind.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery essentially,” he said. “So many things have lined up in my favor.”
A 2019 graduate of California State University, Bond enlisted in the Army in 2020 and graduated from airborne school in 2021.
“The Army appealed to me. I didn’t want to have the normal 9-to-5 job,” he said. “So I just kind of went for it, and it’s been a wild ride ever since.”
After completing Ranger School last March, Bond and fellow paratroopers in Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team competed in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Best Squad competition in June.
They were named the division’s best brigade and best squad, and after meeting with senior leaders for a military board interview process, Bond was named Paratrooper of the Year.
He advanced to the 18th Airborne Corps Best Squad competition in July at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and ended the year at the 82nd Airborne Division Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
So, when Bill Bauer, president of the 82nd Airborn Division Association, asked Bond a few weeks ago, under the auspice of having Bond speak to the association over a video call about “the daily life of being a paratrooper,” Bond was unsuspecting.
That’s when Bauer delivered the news that J.J. Watt and USAA were sending Bond to the Super Bowl.
“They kept it a pretty good secret and totally caught me off guard, but it was probably one of the coolest moments in my life,” Bond said.
He credits his fellow Charlie Troop Best Squad paratroopers for being the reason why he’s able to have the experience.
“Those guys worked their hearts out, too, with the 82nd competition,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without them, and I’ve had fantastic leadership in my unit. Everyone’s been so supportive.”
Super Bowl bound
Bond is now counting down the days to going to Arizona and is able to take his younger brother Jared with him to share the moment.
Originally from Dallas, Bond said he’s never been to a Super Bowl but got to see the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts play against each other for his 10th birthday.
Since the Cowboys didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, he’s narrowed down who he’ll be rooting for next Sunday.
“I’m just happy to be there in the first place, but if I had to pick a team, it’d probably be Kansas City because as a Dallas native, the Eagles are kind of our rival there,” Bond said.
*Editor’s Note: This article was published as part of a content-sharing agreement between Army Times and The Fayetteville Observer.