During his years at Council Rock High School South, Northampton resident Jacob Sweed would voluntarily arrive at the building before sunrise. As a member of the swim team, he was required to be in the water by 5:30 a.m. But he didn’t mind in the slightest. The sport was something he enjoyed greatly, though he never realized the skills learned – such as discipline and punctuality – would come into play later in life.
Sweed, currently a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was recently deployed with a special ops unit to a designated “imminent-danger” area that is unknown to family and friends. According to his mother Margot, Sweed’s time at Council Rock largely prepared him for this moment.
“There’s been a lot of training leading up to this,” she said. “He ended up getting a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. After everything he has worked on and strived for, he reached his goal to be exactly where he is today.”
Margot, along with Sweed’s father Bob, were present during the Northampton Township board of supervisors meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Richboro. Their boy was the 90th local resident to be honored by the community as part of the Northampton Patriots Flag Program, which began in 2003 to recognize area armed forces members serving in harm’s way.
Chairman Barry Moore presented the Sweeds with an Army flag, which was proudly emblazoned with their son’s name. Margot and Bob carefully placed the flag in a large display, where it will remain until his safe return home. At that time, Sweed will be gifted with his Army flag, and an American flag will replace it in the display.
“At one time, all were military flags, each representing the branch of service and identifying the resident with a yellow streamer with his or her name affixed to it,” said Pete Palestina, program coordinator.
Sweed’s Army flag is one of three awaiting the arrival of its owner on U.S. soil. The others represent the Air Force and Coast Guard.
Palestina reflected on how he met Margot and Bob at the Sept. 25 supervisors meeting, during which Air Force Senior Airman Timothy Harman, of Holland, was honored after his deployment overseas.
“Margot loved what we do at these ceremonies, but was hesitant to have the same thing done for their son because of the sensitive nature of his deployment,” he said. “I told them to consider it and get back to me with the information we needed to determine eligibility, and she did.”
The Sweeds expressed their gratitude to their Northampton community for its support during this difficult time.
“Our first deployment, I didn’t think it would be a deployment where we didn’t know where he was. But I think I’m better off, actually,” Margot said.
Still, she believes her son is armed with enough knowledge and special “mommy” advice, which she picked up as a VA Medical Center nurse practitioner, to keep him safe.
“Every single thing has guided him, and it all started here,” Margot said.
On hand were members of Patriot Detachment 1230 Marine Corps League, Veterans Advisory Commission members, Kevin Bomgarzoni for Rep. Wendi Thomas, Nick Diasio for Sen. Tommy Tomlinson and Kyle Melander for Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
“I understand what you’re going through,” said Melander, whose cousin also deployed with a special ops unit. “Because of that, we’re here to help you as an office in any way possible. If there’s anything we can ever do, we’re here for you.”
“We are praying for a safe and speedy return to Northampton Township,” added Diasio.
Following the flag placement ceremony, the Northampton Day Committee (the group of volunteers in charge of the annual Northampton Day Festival) and Team Toyota (festival sponsor) presented checks of $7,500 and $2,500, respectively, to Bob House, president of the local Miracle League.
“We have this outing every year just in the spirit of community, one day a year where everybody puts aside anything that’s on their mind and comes out and enjoys the neighbors,” said Steve Bryer, committee chairman. “If we’re lucky to have a few dollars left over after the event, we have in the past donated a portion of those dollars to local nonprofits.”
The funds will help Miracle League revamp existing playgrounds so that all children, including those with special needs, can enjoy the space.