Retired Marine Col. Robert Jackson

Retired Marine Col. Robert Jackson of Eastmark led young men in battle and now he has written a book aimed at leading young men and women into adulthood by examining common English phrases.

After leading Marines in battle and later mentoring others in leadership, Robert Jackson of Mesa wants to lead young adults and teens through a particular jungle of the English language. 

He’s written a book on idioms – everyday phrases like “raining cats and dogs” and “keep your eyes peeled” – in the hope that they’ll teach them life lessons.

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome: How To Understand Common American Idioms,” published by Outskirts Press, may seem an unusual topic for a combat veteran and longtime Marine.

But Jackson said his career showed him the value of understanding idioms can prepare young people for life.

A Vietnam Veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart, he eventually retired as a full colonel and became a senior Marine instructor for a high school Junior ROTC program in California – which gave him the germ of the idea for the book.

“It became apparent that most students were not aware of the myriad of idioms that provide a different perspective of the English language,” Jackson explained. “Idioms may say one thing and mean another or be perceived differently.  I was inspired to write this book to teach life lessons through idioms, providing examples through everyday experiences.”

He said his book addresses many social issues facing young adults today. 

“They will interact with people who don’t look like themselves or have the same traditions, culture or orientation.  Their quality of life as an adult may depend on many of the decisions they make today. I hope students will derive from this book that it’s okay to be different and to accept all people as they are,” he explained.

Virtues like tolerance, patience and respect, Jackson believes, can all be linked to idioms in a way that informs and inspires, he said.

The 72-year-old Eastmark resident, who lives with his wife Gloria of 47 years, said many of the idioms in his book are “unfamiliar to most young adults.”

“Seventy-two years of living provided most of the information to write this book,” he said. “As a junior Marine officer in Vietnam, I learned fast how to lead Marines while engaged in combat.  

“Later as a senior Marine officer, I had the opportunity  to mentor many junior officers in the art of leadership...I had plenty of opportunity to mentor cadets on how to interact appropriately with friends, family members, and how to share their love with them.”

Jackson calls his book “an outstanding supplement to a student’s education – and in my opinion, a must-read.”

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