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Shes serving with US Army JAG Corps in Iraq
Lathrop Councilman Robert Oliver is pictured with oldest granddaughter, Captain Candace M. Besherse, after her military training at the University of Virginia. Besherse just started her stint in Mosul, Iraq, and is a member of the U.S. Army JAG Corps. The captain is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, and completed her studies in corporate taxation from New York University. - photo by Photo Contributed
LATHROP – Lathrop City Council member Robert K. Oliver has even more reason to keep track of news from Iraq these days.

His oldest granddaughter, Captain Candace M. Besherse who is with the U.S. Army JAG Corps, has just started her stint in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city located north of Baghdad. Founded by General George Washington in July 1775, the Army Judge Advocate General Corps is the oldest of the judge advocate communities in the U.S. armed forces and the oldest law firm in the country.

Born and raised in Southern California, Besherse completed her undergraduate studies at Pepperdine University in Malibu and her juris doctor from Pepperdine Law School in 1999. She passed the California bar exam the same year, and soon after went to New York University to do her specialization studies in corporate taxation.
In an ironic twist, Bershere was in her dorm room at NYU when the planes hit the Twin Towers that fateful day on Sept. 11, 2001.

From her dorm room, “she saw the second plane hit (one of) the Twin Towers,” Oliver said.

Up until that time, Bershere’s career plan was to work in the corporate field specializing in corporate taxation, but “when they blew up the World Trade Center,” that dream went down with the Twin Towers’ ashes, Oliver said.

That same year, the young captain finished her studies at NYU and then joined the service with the initial rank of lieutenant. She completed her military training at the University of Virginia in 2002.

She was assigned for a year at the Pentagon followed by stints at the Scofield Barracks in Hawaii, San Antonio in Texas, and Seoul in Korea. She was twice assigned to Scofield Barracks, most recently last year when Oliver and wife Vivian visited her for a month and were given a personal tour of the barracks by their granddaughter.

For the councilman, the Scofield visit was more than a family reunion. And for his granddaughter, that assignment was more than just part of her military service. It was also a salute to the family’s military tradition. As fate would have it, the councilman’s late brother was stationed at Scofield Barracks when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 which ushered in the United States’ involvement in World War II. Oliver’s older and late brother Dean was serving in the Air Force, which was called the Army Air Corps at the time. During the war he became a B-17 bomber plane pilot and flew a record-breaking number of bombing missions in the European theater.

Whether the JAG officer will make a career in the military or go into private practice after her stint in the service will “depend on a lot of things,” her grandfather said.

“She likes nothing better than to be a housewife and mother. So far, she has not met the person she wants to spend her life with, and while she’s waiting she’s forging herself a remarkable career in the military,” said Oliver who is also a retired church minister, high school teacher and college instructor.

He said his granddaughter will have an opportunity to either re-apply for re-assignment after her Iraq tour.

The Army JAG Corps officer is the daughter of Oliver’s oldest child, Linda Jones, who lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. Oliver has four children – two daughters and two sons – all with his late first wife Bonnie. He has 12 grandchildren – six boys and six girls – of which Captain Besherse is the oldest.

Like any grandparent, the councilman is concerned about his granddaughter’s safety and well-being in the war-torn Middle East country. But he said he has great faith that God will manifest the same miracle that he did to the biblical Daniel when he was thrown in a den of lions by his enemies but was spared by divine intervention.

“We believe that God has great power and concern and – do you know the story of Daniel in the Bible? My prayers are that God will position himself between Candace and Iraq. I expect that she’ll be taken care of. When she’s in a dangerous spot, we expect God to stand between her and danger,” Oliver said.