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Commandant Jarrard steps down at Riverside
Kevin Jarrard
Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard

Riverside Military Academy announced Tuesday night the resignation of its commandant, Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard.

The announcement was made on the academy’s Facebook page.

As commandant, Jarrard was the officer in charge of Riverside cadets. He has been in the post since August 2009 and worked at the academy as a classroom teacher of U.S. history, government and economics for eight years before that.

“Staff and faculty changes are challenging events when they occur during the school year, and Riverside is no exception having endured many such changes during its 108 year history,” the Facebook post announcing the resignation stated. “We will continue to press on in our mission of preparing young men for the rigors of college and life as the faculty and staff at this great academy have done for decades before us. We thank LtCol Jarrard for his service as both a classroom teacher and as commandant and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Riverside’s spokeswoman Adriane Seymour did not have additional information earlier this morning.

Jarrard, who grew up in Gainesville, assumed the position of commandant in 2009.

In 2008, he completed his second tour of duty in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which he helped two Iraqi children receive medical treatment in the United States. His humanitarian efforts earned him regional and national media coverage, making him recognizable to many.

In July 2012, he told The Times he had been unable to have any further contact with the children he had helped since the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in December 2011.

“Many of the Iraqi police officers that I served with in Haditha were murdered by al-Qaida in March (2012),” he said, adding it was possible the children he assisted “were targeted because of the help (they) received from us.”

“The abrupt departure (from Iraq) left us with no capacity to defend our friends or to continue to prosecute al-Qaida targets within Iraq,” he said. “Decisions have consequences and I think we were in too big of a hurry to end our involvement. The original design called for a gradual drawdown. I am not sure why that was taken off the table.”

Just last month, he spoke with The Times about the dangers of the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

Jarrard said he believes those wondering whether the Islamic State’s reach could extend into middle America should remember what happened in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004.

“Every American ought to know that (city’s) name,” he said.

“That’s what’s coming, and anybody who thinks differently should just read history,” he said.

In a three-day ordeal, armed Islamic terrorists from Chechnya besieged a school in a town of 30,000-plus residents, killing 334 people.

“Anything is permitted in their ideology,” Jarrard said. “There is no immorality associated with violence in their minds. If they’ll take a knife and cut somebody’s head off on YouTube, there’s no negotiating with that kind of evil.”

In June, he spoke with The Times about the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

“The average Iraqi, I think, would want to be just left alone, to live in peace,” he said. “With the right kind of government in place, I think history has demonstrated that it is possible for people of different religious persuasions to live in peace. But when you have extremists on both sides who are suggesting ‘convert or die,’ that is a situation that cannot be peacefully reconciled unless there’s a change in ideology.”

Since the full exit of U.S. troops in the country in December 2011, most of the Iraqis with whom Jarrard worked have been murdered.

“It certainly grieves me to see such brave patriots murdered at the hands of folks who are purportedly freedom fighters,” he said.

Jarrard was awarded the Bronze Star in September 2009 at Riverside’s Cresting Parade.

The U.S. Marine was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious achievement in connection with combat operations in Iraq.

Jarrard served as the commanding officer of Company L in the Task Force 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, I Marine Expeditionary Force from Sept. 9, 2007, to April 6, 2008.

During his time overseas, Jarrard’s skillful employment and professional leadership of over 250 Marines, sailors and soldiers combined with Iraqi police and provisional security forces contributed immeasurably to the enhancement of security, according to Lt. Gen. S.T. Helland, USMC, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command.

Jarrard and his wife, Kelly, live in Gainesville with their four children.

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