Commissioner Jerry Patterson has 25 years of active and reserve military service. Five generations of Patterson's family have served their country in time of war. His great grandfathers fought on the side of the South in the War Between the States. His grandfather served in both World War I and World War II. Patterson’s father also served in World War II as well as in the Korean War.
Jerry joined the Marine Corps Reserve in October 1965 while a student at Texas A&M University. He enrolled in the Platoon Leader Class (PLC) Officer Commissioning Program, and was commissioned at Texas A&M in January 1970.
Entering Active Duty in July 1970, Patterson reported to The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia for six months of Infantry Training, where one of his tactics instructors was then 1st Lt. Oliver North. His MOS choices were all combat arms: artillery, infantry and armor. Next, Patterson was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Field Artillery Officer basic course 1-71. Upon completion, he served as an Artillery Officer at Fort Sill until 1971.
At Camp Pendleton in 1971, Patterson served as an infantry company executive officer with Bravo 1/1. Subsequently, he served with the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines as an artillery forward observer and liaison officer.
Patterson was assigned overseas in January 1972 serving with the 3rd Marine division in Okinawa, Japan. Here, he was responsible for qualifying the 3rd Marine Division on small arms at the Rifle and Pistol range. In 1972, Patterson volunteered for Vietnam duty and was assigned to the staff of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade as intelligence watch officer. His duty was to effect liaison with the Vietnamese Marines primarily in Quang Tri, Huong Dien and Da Nang Vietnam.
Patterson served in Vietnam during the last six months of the Vietnam war, leaving on 26 January 1973, the day of the so-called "cease-fire." After his tour of duty in Vietnam, Patterson returned to Okinawa, Japan and was eventually rotated back to the United States in March 1973.
He returned to Camp Pendleton, California and served as an artillery battery executive officer and liaison officer. In 1973, Patterson reported to Pensacola, Florida for flight training as a naval flight officer. He received his naval flight officer wings in November 1974.
After receiving his wings, he was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona for transition into the F4 Phantom aircraft. Upon completion at Yuma, he reported for duty with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. Here he served as Fighter RIO and unit legal officer for two years.
Next, Patterson studied at the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico for nine months, before returning to MCAS Yuma as an instructor in an F4 transition squadron.
In the summer of 1980, Patterson left active duty and joined the Marine Corps Reserve at Dallas Naval Air Station. Here he joined Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 -- otherwise known as the "Cowboys."
He continued to serve in the Active Reserve from 1980 until 1991. During his Marine aviator career, his diverse responsibilities included aircraft maintenance officer, unit legal officer, air combat tactics instructor and mission commander.
In 1991, Patterson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. After his election to the Texas Senate in 1992, he retired from the Reserve in 1993. He was elected Land Commissioner in 2002.
Commissioner Patterson served his state and his nation as Chairman of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee. His son, Travis, has continued the Patterson tradition as a Marine attack helicopter pilot, with two tours of duty in Iraq.