JTF Covid North ‘Rifle Jack’ pays tribute to their namesake

Joint Task Force Covid North ‘Rifle Jack’, composed of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, & New York Guard (State Defense Force) recently paid tribute to their namesake, the legendary Revolutionary War Hero, John Jacob “Rifle Jack” Peterson.  This historic African American man foiled a plan that would have possibly ended the American Revolution.

On May 2nd, 2021, soldiers and airmen of JTF COVID North “Rifle Jack”, attended a ceremony at Peekskill Museum celebrating its 75th Anniversary and the re-dedication of a Revolutionary War Cannon to John Jacob “Rifle Jack” Peterson, a local African American Revolutionary War hero. The service members, including SGT Mark Pisanelli, SGT Mayra Schultz, and CPL Vincent Herring of the New York Guard, were honored to meet the direct descendants of “Rifle Jack”, their Task Force’s namesake.
When JTF COVID, later reorganized as JTF COVID North, was established for enduring COVID-19 operations, the command group and staff sought a unique name to set them apart and build esprit de corps. The Task Force was dubbed “Rifle Jack”, in honor of Revolutionary War patriot John Jacob “Rifle Jack” Peterson, a local militiaman from Peekskill, NY.
In September of 1780, while serving with the 3rd Westchester Militia, Peterson and fellow militiaman Moses Sherwood spotted the English vessel ‘Vulture’ on the Hudson River, which was in the process of sending a landing party ashore. Peterson, a distinguished marksman, fired on the landing party and forced them to retreat back to the ship. The pair then dragged a canon up a hill to Teller’s Point and proceeded to engage the ship alone in a battle that lasted 2 hours, just miles away from present day Camp Smith Training Site, which serves as JTF COVID North’s headquarters. Despite being overwhelmingly outmatched, their relentless defense of the shoreline forced the ‘Vulture’ to retreat. Unbeknownst to Peterson at the time, their actions prevented the ‘Vulture’ from exfiltrating the infamous English spymaster, Major John Andre, leading to his later capture and throwing Benedict Arnold’s treasonous plans into disarray.
To date, JTF COVID North “Rifle Jack”, has supported the administration of over 2.1 million COVID vaccines to New Yorkers, in an area of operations stretching from Westchester, West to Niagara, and all the way North to Plattsburgh.
Photos provided by MSG Jaime Lino, New York Army National Guard.
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