News: Depot mourns passing of one of its own
Story by Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
SAN DIEGO - Marine Corps Recruit Depot Marines mourned the death of one of their own from a highway crash while trying to help others.
“What we should remember as Marines, Lance Corporal Jones, in his final living moments and without hesitation, he came to the aid of other individuals,” said Maj. Matthew A. Treptow, commanding officer, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “That action is something that we should be terribly proud of.”
Those were the words used to describe the loss of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Richard D. Jones, a military policeman with the depot’s Provost Marshall’s Office, who died from injuries suffered in an accident, Feb. 22.
“We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Lance Corporal Jones,” said Brig. Gen. James Bierman, commanding general of MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult period. We’re proud that Lance Corporal Jones’ final actions were focused on helping others in need – this shows the kind of young man he was.”
For Jones aiding others was of second nature. He was a reserve firefighter with the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company in Niagara County, N.Y., his hometown.
“While many details are still unclear, one thing that is true is that he lost his life in a courageous selfless manner,” said Col. Mark M. Tull, commanding officer, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “He had first responder training and his instincts were to help those involved. He understood the dangers of entering an accident scene and has left a legacy that can inspire all of us.”
Maj. Scott Newton, Provost Marshall, added, “I was devastated because he was an important part of my team and anything we asked of him always got done. As difficult as the loss was, he died doing what he did best - helping others. He went into harm’s way and sacrificed his life to protect others; that is his legacy.”
Jones and his friend were driving his pickup truck on their way back to the depot, when he was involved in a multi-vehicle accident.
Jones got out of his car, at the scene of the accident, to help the passengers of the other vehicle involved. In his attempt to help victims of the multi-vehicle crash, Jones suffered fatal injuries.
“We were perfectly fine and I suggested we needed to stay in the vehicle,” said Cpl. Matthew J. Petrovich. “But he insisted, we needed to go check to ensure people in the other car were ok.”
Close friend and Marine Cpl. Petrovich, member of Marine Band San Diego, wanted everyone to remember Jones died in a selfless act of caring for people in need of help.
According to Petrovich, Jones was always made fun of for his “cruddy” driving because he would sometimes back up awkwardly. Jones’ response to the jokes was, “As long as my passengers are fine, I will take the responsibility and the pain and he did just that," said Petrovich.
People who he had never met before, he would make time to help them out in any way he could, said Petrovich.
As a military policeman, his job entailed helping and protecting the public. When Jones first arrived to the base, he was very shy and asked Pretrovich many questions. Petrovich took him under his wing as a mentor and a friend.
“He was afraid to put his blouse in the washer, afraid that it might ruin it,” recalled Petrovich, with a smile. “He thought the blouse was sacred or something. I guess he needed my blessing to wash it.”
Jones was an avid “car guy.” According to Petrovich, Jones would drop anything to work on his car or to help anyone with their vehicle including helping one of his friends install a stereo system the night prior to the accident.
"We worked on his truck and my car a whole lot,” said Petrovich.
Jones will be remembered for his good nature who put other’s needs before his own. A guardian angel pin Jones carried with him reads, “Please protect me and my passengers, and all of who I pass by, with a steady hand and a watchful eye.”
“It’s always the good guys that expose themselves to dangers,” said Tull. “I’m struck with profound sadness, and as his actions become more apparent, you feel pride to have served with such a good Marine.”