Jennie and Derek Werner: Giving back to country and college

Jennie and Derek Werner

Jennifer “Jennie” Jackson ’81 and Derek Werner (CMC ’80) met as students in college and soon became best friends. After graduating, they both went into business and eventually married.

But at age 30, they wanted to do something service-oriented, so they joined the U.S. Army. According to Derek, they intended to serve only four years and then return to their business careers.

Four years somehow turned into 23. During their time as military intelligence Polish linguists, the Werners learned about a special Army officer program in which one serves in U.S. Defense Attaché Offices in embassies around the world learning foreign languages.

“We thought it sounded most intriguing,” said Jennie. “We love to travel—we even took a 10-month backpacking honeymoon around the world. This appealed to our sense of adventure and offered us both unique career opportunities.”

The Werners, who call themselves “basically vagabonds,” have lived in Germany, Poland, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Colombia, China, India, Austria, and now the UK during the last two decades with the U.S. Army.

“We have both absolutely loved it,” they say. “We have been fortunate enough to travel in more than 140 countries embracing cultures, foods, and people all over the world.”

A cancer survivor, Derek is now retired, but actively accompanies Jennie on their continuing adventures, and they share a love of theatre (they just saw their 385th play since moving to London in December 2009) and music.

Above: Derek and Jennie Werner, at right, chat at a barbeque at 10 Downing Street with British Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, and President Barack Obama; First Lady Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron are shown at center.


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