Michael Jordan’s Big Brother

Michael Jordan’s older brother James recently retired as the top sergeant major in the Army’s Signal Corps. The Fayetteville (NC) Observer has an interesting profile.

CSM James Jordan Photo James R. Jordan, who retired as a command sergeant major last month, took his 35th Signal Brigade troops to Iraq in 2004. Staff photo by Marc Hall James R. Jordan asked himself a question when his younger brother Michael became a NBA star in the mid-1980s. The elder Jordan, who had already spent about a decade in the Army, said, “OK, what are you going to be? Are you going to ride a coattail or are you going to keep doing like you are doing?”

James Jordan opted to keep doing what he was doing. Now, at age 48, he can look back on a 31-year Army career in which he became command sergeant major of the Army’s only airborne signal brigade, which is based at Fort Bragg. That’s the top job for an enlisted signal soldier.


Jordan always made his own way as a soldier. He didn’t hesitate to speak up when something needed to be said and made a point of downplaying his family tie, Allen said. “He would hardly let anybody ever come up and ask him about it,” Allen said. “He would probably flame you out if you said that to him.”

Jordan was bumping up against his 30-year retirement date when the 35th Signal Brigade got orders to go to Iraq in 2004. He talked to his family and decided he should go. “Jordan put his life on hold to go to deploy to Iraq with his soldiers,” said Allen, who made the same decision as command sergeant major of the 1st Corps Support Command. Jordan and Col. Bryan W. Ellis took the signal brigade to war in November 2004 and had responsibility for as many as 4,000 soldiers during a yearlong combat tour. “When I made the decision, I knew it was the right thing,” Jordan said.


Jordan went out his own way during an April 13 retirement ceremony on Fort Bragg. “Do you know that even though Michael Jordan was out there, everybody was still in line to shake Sergeant Major Jordan’s hand, not to pay homage to his brother,” Allen said. “I thought that was so cool. It was about Jordan the man.”

The Jordan family work ethic served both brothers quite well, taking them to the top of their careers.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Sports, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.