GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan (8/13/2012) - Most of Sgt. Kenneth
Jones' peers are half his age, but the Sanford, Fla., native has no
regrets for joining the Army.
Sgt. Kenneth Jones, a logistics soldier with the 82nd Airborne
Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, cinches a strap around PVC pipes
for shipment to a combat outpost May 25, 2012, at Forward Operating
Base Arian, Ghazni province, Afghanistan. The pipe will be used to
control flooding on the combat outpost. U.S. Army photo by Sgt.
Michael J. MacLeod
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
“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
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.
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
“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.
enjoyed construction, Jones appreciates how he continues to
learn new things and meet new people every day in the Army,
“I never imagined when I was swinging that
hammer that I'd be here in Afghanistan,” he said.
By Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
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