News: 'Big Country' gladly pits will against deployment, wild hogs
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Wolfe
By Staff Sgt. Scott Wolfe
Multi-National Divsion - Baghdad
BAGHDAD – Most Soldiers deployed to Iraq miss home. They miss family, food or a favorite activity. For the most part, everyone misses someone or something.
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier has a taste that runs a bit different from the norm.
"'Big Country'... that boy is just wild," said 1st Lt. Patrick Dowdell, a platoon leader with Battery A, 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, attached to 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Div., Multi-National Division – Baghdad. "His favorite thing [to do back home] is to go hog hunting."
For Pvt. 1st Class Robert Jones, hog hunting means going out into the backwoods of eastern Texas in search of a 210-350 pound hog. He takes along a length of rope, his dogs and sometimes his wife.
He sends his dogs through the thick Texas brush to chase hogs out to where he waits to shove the angry animal's head to the ground, knocking it onto its back and tying its feet together with the rope like a rodeo cowboy wrestling steers. The hog stays tied until he gets it to where it is butchered for the meat.
"It's exciting," said Jones, with a smile and a soft east Texas drawl.
Jones is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs nearly 220 pounds and says that hogs can weigh more than 450 pounds, and nearly fills up the bed of a pick-up truck. Even the smaller hogs are a handful, he said.
"It's even better because my wife likes to hunt with me."
Jones is known as "Big Country" to those he works with due to his size and how he has never quite forgotten the rural life of eastern Texas.
"I hate cities," said Jones, a Palestine, Texas native. "There's no pine trees and no hills out here."
"I miss back home, and my Family but I am glad I am here, doing my part," he said.
Describing Jones, Dowdell called him a hard worker, big on using his hands and always an early riser.
"It'll be his day off and he'll be up before anyone else," said Dowdell with an accent that emphasized his Brooklyn roots. "He doesn't sleep in."
Jones has served as a dismount and vehicle gunner with the "Aztec's" 3rd platoon, also known as Blue platoon. Now he is the driver of the Caiman mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle his squad rides in.
"I was a truck driver for a bit, before I joined [the service]. That's how I got to be a driver when they found out."
Jones' reasons for leaving his home to join the Army were a family legacy he intended to preserve and the need to provide for those he loves and the respect he felt for service members.
"I joined up for the stability and to take care of my family. I have wanted to be in the Army since I was a little kid, I just never got around to it until now," said the big Texan.
"My family goes back in the service until about the Revolution. My dad was in Vietnam; my grandfather was in World War II. Every male in my family has served since I don't know when."
"Every male person I have ever respected has been in the military. Everyone I didn't wasn't in. That's got to mean something."
Jones and the Soldiers and leaders he serves with have formed a "family" away from home and a brotherhood with his fellow platoon members.
"My platoon is good... No. It's the best platoon in the battalion. And the chain [of command] is the best. We all know our jobs and we know what needs to happen, what to do."
He waggled his hand back and forth in a rocking motion to describe the sibling-like rivalry that of how they get along.
"We act like a family full of brothers," he said, the corners of his mouth turning to smile.
Jones is set to go home on leave soon, where he will see his wife and two kids he hasn't seen for months. He looks forward to their smiles and the scent of pine in the air.
He shook his head at the mention of wrestling hogs.
"Hunting hogs is about pitting yourself against something as big as you that weighs as much if not more than you, and is meaner than hell."
Whether it's tackling wild hogs in Texas or long deployments in a foreign land, getting the difficult job done and doing it well is just another day in the life of "Big Country."