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Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

Jason Karge: A Winthrop Veteran and Entrepreneur

Jason Karge outside of Drop Zone Brewery.

This week’s article highlights a local veteran who is active in the Winthrop community as well as a local business owner (Drop Zone Brewery), Jason Karge. Jason served in the US Army’s 18th Aviation Brigade from 1998 to 1999 (and deployed as an arms inspector to Kosovo and Iraq during this time), the 82nd Airborne Division from 1999 to 2001, and then the 1st Infantry Division from 2001 to 2004, leaving as a Sergeant.  After his service, he worked in finance at a hotel before opening his own brewery in 2022.  From living in his car to opening his own business, Jason tells me his story:

Shannon Raneri: Why did you choose to serve?

Jason Karge: So, my life after high school, I was sleeping in my car.  I tried to get into school, didn’t have money.  For me, it was a lack of options.  I felt it was the best option for me.

SR: Did you feel better by the time you got out (of the Army) versus when you joined?

JK: Definitely.  It gave me direction, and I felt like I had more of a purpose than when I joined.  I learned life skills, job skills, discipline, it set me up to succeed.  Even with my finance career later in life, I had learned that skill in the Army as well.

SR; Did your family ever serve?

JK: One of my older brothers served for 22 years.  He retired in [around] 2010.  He was also deployed to Iraq.

SR: Why did you choose the Army?

JK: I actually wanted to go into the Air Force, but my brother who was in the Army at the time, directed me to the Army because he knew the advantages, so he took me to the recruiter.  I was actually supposed to join the year before, but I didn’t want to.  I was trying to figure things out on my own, which didn’t go well.

SR: Military life is very different than “civilian life.”  What was the biggest difference that you had to adapt to?

JK: I would say, the biggest thing, whether you’re on duty or off, you still have the military looming over you.  Whether you’re in base housing, trying to create a home, it’s always very military-driven.  I lived at base housing in Germany.  Because I was a Sergeant, I had to look after the facilities.  I had to tell other people, “Make sure you clean your stairwell,” or “Make sure you sweep around your parking spaces.”  There was never a break and even when you’re going to the on-base facilities, like a PX (post exchange) or a commissary, there’s always someone that either outranks you or you outrank someone.  People always like to let that be known.  That’s one of the things that’s very difficult.  You get used to it.  It’s hard to have an individual identity because everything is very regimented.  Especially if you tried to think for yourself.

SR: Is there anything that you miss about the service?

JK: The regiment, the structure.  There’s a manual for everything and everybody’s got a boss.  If there’s a failure with anything, there’s a manual you turn to or a regulation you turn to.  Discipline is the other thing.  Civilians do have individuality, which is good.  However, with that, there is [sometimes] no discipline and people aren’t held accountable, where you are in the service.

SR: Did you learn any life lessons?

JK: Yeah, the biggest thing is have confidence in yourself, get the job done, do things right or not at all, and accept accountability.  If you do something wrong, whether it’s me or employees, it’s okay.  Just hold yourself accountable, learn from it, ’cause it’s a learning opportunity, and move forward.  That’s how I always managed and how I continue to manage.

After the questions about the military, we focused on Jason’s business, Drop Zone Brewery.

SR: Why did you choose to open a brewery?

JK: It was a skill that I had learned in the Army.  (Not beer-making, just to clarify)  Starting a business and what I learned from the Army would be always do things to the highest quality – again, it’s do it right or not at all.  And then, just trying to be disciplined and patient with everything we do.  You don’t want to expand too fast, you want to master the level you’re on before you move to the next.  That’s what we do with the brewery.

JK: The theme of the Brewery was definitely my wife’s idea.  I wanted to be more simple with “Winthrop Brewing Company” and she wanted it to be more about me and my identity.  Being a paratrooper, Drop Zone is definitely my identity.  The biggest thing with Drop Zone is dedication to the community and always trying to make the community a better place, which is really the point of the Army; just making our way of life sustainable and making a better place.

SR: Did anything in the Army help you towards entrepreneurship?

JK: It did!  Definitely budgeting and accounting, policies and procedures, coming up with a “mission,” and trying to achieve that mission.  Having the passion for something and seeing it through.  With the service, you always have to see everything through; whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience, whether it’s deployment or a field training exercise, or a jump, or whatever – if you start it, you have to see it through and finish it and do your best while trying.  It’s the whole point of the service; they’re going to build you to whatever they want, but you have to try and you have to see everything through.  The same with the business: we’re always trying to evolve and do things, better, smarter, and more efficient which is a lot of what I learned in the service.

It was hard to shorten this interview!  When you ever decide to go to Drop Zone (6 Michael’s Mall, Winthrop, MA – if you want to check it out!), be sure to thank Jason for his service.

Thank you for your service, Jason!

Jason in the Army
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About the Contributor
Shannon Raneri, Writer
Hello!  My name is Shannon Raneri and I am a junior at Winthrop High School.  I am an avid writer and I am very happy to contribute my writing to The Viking Times, our Winthrop community, and beyond.  I write a variety of topics from current events, to sports, and entertainment.   On the rare occasion when I am not writing, you can find me reading, playing with my dogs, or watching "Friends" for the umpteenth time. Thank you for reading The Viking Times!

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