LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (10/21/2012) – Ask Chief
Warrant Officer 4 Walter Jones why he serves and he will
tell you “It's all about flying and soldiers.”
October 21, 2012 - Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walter Jones is a 61-year-old native of Clarksville, Tenn., who serves with D Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, in eastern Afghanistan. Jones is a Vietnam veteran with over 30 years of service. Photo
by Army Capt. Christina Wright, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade Public
born in Mountain Home, ID., is serving in Afghanistan as an
aviation maintenance officer with D Company, 5th Battalion,
101st Combat Aviation Brigade. Jones enlisted in the Army at
the age of eighteen and after completing basic training in
1969, went on to Fort Rucker to become a Huey crew chief.
Soon after that he found himself assigned to the 162nd
Assault Helicopter Company in Can Tu, Vietnam.
day during a mission his aircraft started to receive small
arms fire. Rounds struck the helicopter's fuel cell, and the
aircraft immediately caught fire. The helicopter began to
spin about 200 feet above the ground.
for impact and was knocked unconscious.
injured and spent ten months recovering in the hospital.
During this time he made an important decision.
“That experience really made me focus on what I wanted to do
with my life,” said Jones, “I wanted to make a career out of
The Army re-classified him as a telephone
line repairman and stationed him with the 82nd Airborne
Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Having valuable combat
experience as a Huey crew chief in Vietnam, he quickly found
his way back into aviation.
This was also his first
experience with the Cold War during the Arab-Israeli War in
1973.He remembers sitting on the green ramp being on standby
to support Israel if needed, but Israel did not require it.
While at Fort Bragg he saw the experimental balsa wood
full scale model of the future UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
He pointed to one of his buddies and said, ”I am going to
fly that one day.”
“And I did,” said Jones, now a
veteran Black Hawk pilot.
In 1975, he graduated from
flight school. The 101st Airborne Division was next on his
horizon. Assigned to the D Company, 158th Assault Helicopter
Battalion, it was here where with the ‘Ghostriders' that his
dream of flying Black Hawks became a reality. D Company was
the first unit in the Army to receive the UH-60, and in 1979
he became one of the first pilots to go through the UH-60
“The 101st set the standard as
far as Army aviation goes,” remarks Jones. “101st is the
only way to go, it sets the standards for air assaults.”
After assignments in Korea, Hawaii and Texas Jones found
his way back to Fort Campbell, Ky., when the 6th Attack
Training Battalion returned to the home of the 101st to
become the 2nd/101st Attack Battalion.
from active duty service out of Fort Campbell in 1993. After
his retirement, he went to work for contractors in Saudi
Arabia, where he continued to fly.
In 1999 his wife,
Diane, gave him an ultimatum.
“She told me, ‘If you
are going to leave again don't bother coming home,'”
So he took a job working once again at
Fort Campbell for DynCorp in 2001. Being back on a military
base, working around Soldiers and only being responsible for
the maintenance of aircraft, Jones saw significant
differences between his life as a Soldier and as a civilian.
“Being around the [Soldiers] and working a nine to five
job as a civilian is different,” he said, “When you are
working as a civilian, nine times out of 10, the people you
work with you don't associate with off the job; whenever
your shift is done you are on your way.”
started to miss the camaraderie and sense of family that
comes with military service. Diane could also sense that her
husband missed his old life.
“When he retired, I did
not think that he would serve again, “ said Diane, “ but it
wasn't long before I knew that he missed it and regretted
Walter and Diane, who just celebrated
their 40th wedding anniversary, grew up in military families
with both their fathers having served in the Air Force.
“To be honest, I had missed the military also,” said
Diane, “Growing up in the Air Force, the military is all we
both had ever known. “
In 2004, Jones decided it was
time to make a change. He made a plan and decided to talk to
Diane about the financial benefits of going back onto active
“I get emotional when I think about it,”
said Walter. “She looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You want
to fly again.' If I ever mention going contract maintenance
overseas again she will say no. But I can deploy as many
times as I want. She is a military wife all the way
Walter applied to come back on active duty
through the voluntary recall program.
One of the
forms he was had to fill out was the Army “Dream Sheet.”
When asked to fill out his top three choices, Walter only
had one place he wanted to go — Fort Campbell.
told them it was 101st, no ifs, ands or buts about it, “
In January 2005, Jones went to the
replacement company at Fort Campbell and was sent to his
unit. Walter was sent to the same unit he has served in
almost 30 years before. It was something he did not expect
“When I came back in, I did not ask for
any unit in particular I just wanted to get back into the
air assault, back into the ‘Hawks flying again,” said Jones.
“Whoever did it I thank them.”
It was a homecoming
for Jones and he could not have been happier about it.
Having served with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade for
the past 7 years, Jones has deployed with the 101 CAB four
times. This current deployment is his third to Afghanistan.
With 32 years of active duty service under his belt,
Jones will tell you that not much has changed since his days
of serving in Vietnam.
“I look back and the biggest
difference is that the equipment and technology is so much
more complicated,” said Jones. “I think it was a simpler
time back then. Young soldiers have to be a lot smarter to
do the same job we did back then. I admire these young
Soliders so much for what they are dealing and working
If anything, Jones is a shining example of
someone doing what they love every day?
“He has been
happy being back in the Army and doing a job that he loves,”
said Diane. “I am happy that he has been able to do what he
By Army Capt. Christina Wright
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