Baseball Star Who Gave up Scholarship to Join Army Earns Rare Battlefield Promotion Fighting ISIS

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Sgt. Jeremy Penderman, a multichannel transmission systems operator and former college baseball player, currently serving in Iraq, received a rare battlefield promotion, reaching the ranks of Staff Sgt., in an impromptu ceremony last month near the city of Al Tarab, Iraq.


As reported by The Fayetteville Observer, he wasn’t expecting s promotion when Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, Operation Inherent Resolve and the 1st Infantry Division, visited the base where Penderman was repairing communications equipment.

Penderman’s promotion was based on the fact he “demonstrated an extraordinary performance of his duties” including managing a job typically filled by someone with a higher rank than himself.


Penderman, 25, was serving with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg at the time of the promotion. He was recognized for his irrefutable impact on the unit with which he was serving as well as his part in the ongoing fight against ISIS in the northern city of Mosul.

The promotion was especially meaningful as Penderman had been working towards a promotion for nearly two years, but didn’t have the typical requirements to rise in rank.

Speaking to The Fayetteville Observer, Penderman said, “It was a complete surprise.” He continued, “I didn’t know anything about it.”


While in Iraq, Penderman has overseen communications for the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, ensuring soldiers operating in the area have battlefield communications capabilities.

Prior to joining the Army, Penderman potentially had a career in baseball. He received a baseball scholarship from Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he was assigned to the outfield. However, he was redshirted during his freshman year, leading him to consider other opportunities to shape his future.

Penderman was always interested in joining the military like his brother, who joined the Marines. But his parents recommended he try college first, and he agreed to complete his freshman year to see if it would work. If it didn’t, then Penderman intended to enlist.


Initially, Penderman walked into a local Army recruiting center with hopes of becoming an airborne infantryman. After speaking with a recruiter, he found out about an opportunity that led him into his current specialty, designated as a 25Q.

While Penderman plans to stay with the Army for the long-term, he acknowledges that his current skill set gives him opportunities outside of the military as well. Speaking regarding the career options the Army has provided, he said, “It’s really set me up for success, whether I stay in or get out.”

When discussing his experience in the Army, Penderman said, “It’s fulfilling work,” continuing, “I get to impact the battalion on a daily basis.”

He goes on to say, “It definitely feels like I’m making a difference in my battalion and helping to make a difference in the fight in Mosul.”