News: Why we serve - Sgt. Kenneth Jones
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Most of Sgt. Kenneth Jones’ peers are half his age, but the Sanford, Fla., native has no regrets for joining the Army.
At 41 and facing ever-increasing bills for his wife’s medical condition in spite of her workplace insurance, the carpenter of 25 years hung up his hammer and took the oath to defend the constitution of the United States.
“I knew when I was younger that I wanted to join the Army, and I’ve always known they have the best benefits in the world,” said Jones, now deployed to Afghanistan as a truck driver with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.
“I love the military, and I’m going to give it my 20,” he said.
Jones is a paratrooper, a non-commissioned officer, father with a daughter in the Reserves, and grandfather with two grandchildren.
His own grandfather was in the Korean War, his father was in Vietnam, he has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, and he hopes that his daughter will get to deploy so she can have a foreign war under her belt too, he said.
Jones has always wanted to be like his father, and military service was the one thing the son lacked.
“When I told him I joined the military, he was tickled to death,” said Jones. “That’s all he wants to talk about when he sees me is to compare Afghanistan to Vietnam.”
Being peers with soldiers half his age was difficult for the mature man at first, but once he became a sergeant, things got dramatically easier, he said.
With children the age of his subordinates, Jones often approaches personal problems with more patience and understanding than a younger sergeant might, he said. He often relies on his paternal experience to solve his soldiers’ issues rather than force of rank.
In spite of his age, the ex-carpenter handles the physical demands of his job with ease, having framed houses in the Florida heat for over two decades. He works out and runs nearly every day just to be sure he can keep up with the younger troops, he said.
“I tell soldiers, you have to be careful, drink lots of water, replace your electrolytes,” he said.
He also advises less-experiened soldiers to take good care of their equipment, a lesson he learned during a deployment to Iraq’s expansive, desert-like Al Anbar province in 2009-10 during which he was on convoy all but a few nights over the span of a year.
“If you are on a mission and you haven’t properly maintained your truck and it breaks down, it can turn a two-hour mission into 12,” he said.
While he enjoyed construction, Jones appreciates how he continues to learn new things and meet new people every day in the Army, he said.
“I never imagined when I was swinging that hammer that I’d be here in Afghanistan,” he said.
Date Posted:08.13.2012 01:33
Location:GHAZNI PROVINCE, AF
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