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In Memoriam: Ensign Jerry "Buck" Pope

Ensign Jerry O’Real Pope II was born 2 October 1967. A native of Tallahassee, Florida he graduated from Leon High School in June 1985. After a year of junior college his competitive spirit, athletic ability, and undying devotion for his country led him to the United States Navy. Enlisting on 13 January 1987 the Navy would assign him as a Fire Controlman. However, intrigued with the history of the Navy SEALs, he actively sought assignment to Basic Underwater Demolition School/SEAL (BUD/S) training.

Petty Officer Pope reported to Coronado, California for BUD/S class. After recovering from a near fatal injury only a week from graduation, he returned to BUD/S and completed training, graduating with Class 165 in March 1990. After BUD/S he was assigned to SEAL Team FOUR in Little Creek, Virginia. Not long after his arrival he cross-rated to Hospital Corpsman and deployed multiple times throughout all of the U.S. Southern Command as a SEAL Corpsman.

Petty Officer Pope was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to serve as an instructor at the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center. He began attending college during his off-hours and within a short period of time earned a Bachelor of Health Science degree with honors from Campbell University. He applied for and was accepted to the Intra-Service Physician Assistant Program (IPAP). Maintaining his high academic standards, he graduated 9 February 2001 from PA school near the top of his class with a degree from the University of Nebraska and a commission in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Service Corps Officer.

Following PA graduation Ensign Pope received orders to the Naval Medical Clinic Quantico, Virginia where he served until August 2002 when he accepted a volunteer assignment as an individual augmentee supporting special operations. Ensign Pope was killed in the line of duty in a vehicle accident on 16 October 2002 while assigned to the American Embassy in Yemen. He was interned at Arlington National Cemetery on 21 November 2002.


Camp Pope was established in his honor.Camp Pope was established posthumously to honor ENS Jerry


"Buck" as his friends and teammates knew him, was not only the consummate professional within the special operations and medical communities but someone who possessed an uncanny ability to smile during times that would frustrate even the most patient of individuals. Often he would discuss his past misfortunes with a laugh and calming demeanor that would make others wonder how he was able to maintain his personal stamina and sense of humor during some of the most difficult of times. A selfless man, he often volunteered for the worst assignments and gave more than expected. He was a close friend to many and is missed by all who knew him. Ensign "Buck" Pope is survived by his wife and three children.



His Bronze Star Medal Citation reads:  For meritorious achievement in connection with operations against hostile enemy forces while serving as the sole Medical Officer and Joint Medical Unit Representative while assigned to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in support of counter-terrorism operations from 1 August to 17 October 2002. Ensign Pope's superb abilities ensured the timely establishment and effective operation of numerous sensitive and remote field medical sites. As the sole medical officer, he developed and maintained a medical infrastructure that provided casualty evacuation procedures, trauma medicine, and routine medical care for more than 50 U.S. and coalition personnel. During this period, Ensign Pope demonstrated exceptional leadership and outstanding medical skill supporting numerous special operations against hostile enemy forces. While assigned to a special operations tactical team, Ensign Pope was mortally wounded in the line of duty supporting counter-terrorism operations in the vicinity of Mukullah and Ash Shihr Terminal, Yemen. Ensign Pope reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


The Ensign Jerry "Buck" Pope Award was established by the Naval Association of PAs in his honor and is awarded yearly to an active duty, reserve or retired Navy Physician Assistant in recognition for a publication or ongoing research. The award is intended to recognize the efforts put forth by that PA which are above and beyond the normal scope of our professional endeavors and are of a quality to be published for the education and betterment of our profession as a whole. The Association hopes this small gesture honors ENS Pope's efforts to perform beyond what was expected and his selflessness.


Thank you to CDR(ret) David Holder and LCDR(ret) Mark L. Donald for providing this information.

We are grateful to see that the Life Worth Leading non-profit also grants a scholarship in ENS Pope's honor, which is not affiliated with NAPA.



Ari Doucette

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