‘Be all that you can be’ — Charlie Jones

Published 11:21 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

“I joined the Army because I came to a point in my life where I realized I needed a change. I could not keep up the life I was leading. It has been my second chance if you will,” said Charlie Jones of Picayune. For him, the call to arms was a cry for help from a youth who desperately needed structure.

Jones, son of Ron and Barbara Jones, was born in Crosby Hospital in Picayune and attended Picayune Memorial High School. “As far back as I can remember we have lived in Pearl River County,” wrote Jones in an e-mail. E-mail communication is currently serving as the lifeline to all he had ever known prior to his military career.

Jones enlisted in the Army June 25, 2005. He received his basic training in Fort Knox, Ky.

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“Basic training is just that, the basics,” he wrote. He said initially you are told exactly what to do, where to do it and why. “In regular training you are supposed to know the basics already and are expected to perform without constant supervision.”

He described training as often times being more treacherous than real life combat scenarios. His narrative continued: “Regular Army training goes more in depth and builds upon the basics which you learn initially. Of course the training applies to your specific job. The Army’s policy is ‘Everyone is a soldier,’ therefore everyone in the Army has to meet certain training requirements every six months or so, such as weapons training and a physical fitness test which includes: push-ups, sit-ups and a two mile run. Combat arms which is infantry and cavalry training is always tough, we train for the worst and hope for the best. Usually ‘situations,’ even real deal combat, isn’t as tough as training. The difference between training and Iraq is training only lasts for a couple of weeks to a month, then you go home. Iraq lasts for 15 months, and it isn’t as fast of a pace.”

Jones said that by the time he left for Iraq, December 2007, he was motivated and ready to go. “I was a little nervous about some things, but you get broke in quickly.”

He is currently stationed out of Schofield Barracks in Hawaii with the 25th infantry division. His rank is e-4, promotable and just a few points shy of earning his e-5, or sergeant, ranking.

Recently, he celebrated his birthday by taking a trip to the city of Qatar which he described as crazy but awesome. He got to take tours of the city, walk through huge open air markets, jet ski and tube. After a couple of fun-filled days of exciting adventure (including a brief but scary killer hawk incident), it was back to work.

Jones’ sister, Kerry Cortez, describes him as a true success story. Despite all of his set backs with school and growing up, she feels like he is an absolutely fabulous brother who really excelled in the military.

“He chose the Army life as a way to get his life straight — and obviously that life agrees with him,” she said. She is extremely proud of the man her little brother has become and loves his brief but ever important visits home.

In an e-mail, dated October 24, Jones said, “I feel like my body is falling apart. Oh well, only about four months left — it will all be over soon.”