To Serve: Poplarville brothers answer the call

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

brothers who serve: From left,  brothers Justus and Jansen Owen of Poplarville have both joined the National Guard.

brothers who serve: From left, brothers Justus and Jansen Owen of Poplarville have both joined the National Guard.

“Whatever is needed, where it is needed,” is the motto utilized by the National Guard. Brothers Jansen and Justus Owen of Poplarville recently took advantage of the program to fulfill their desire to serve their country.
The National Guard was founded in 1636 as “a citizen force to protect families and towns from hostile attacks,” according to the National Guard’s website.
Sgt. First Class Carley Davis said the National Guard has two missions.
“The first, on a state level, is disaster recovery after a flood, hurricane or tornado occurs,” he said. “The second is on a federal level. Soldiers are trained in every job skill. If they need infantry in Iraq or Afghanistan, we go. If our country needs us, we’re here.”
A Guardsman primarily operates out of his or her home state, lives at home and works a civilian job. However, the governor or president can call on them at any time, the website states.
In 2014, Pearl River Community College and the Mississippi National Army National Guard partnered to establish Magnolia Gold, a military science program, a PRCC release from December 2014 states.
“Several young men and women from the area have taken advantage of the program,” Davis said.
Additionally, students who enroll in Magnolia Gold can transfer those credits to Army ROTC programs when they transfer to a four-year university, the release states.
Davis said interested parties can join the Guard during their junior year of high school.
“Then they don’t have to question how to pay for college,” Davis added. “If they go through an ROTC program, they can be commissioned as an officer. If they didn’t have time to complete ROTC, we have an 8-week officer candidate program.”
Last year, during Magnolia Gold’s inaugural year, Justus Owen attended PRCC in Hattiesburg and was able to take advantage of some of the courses.
“I’ve known Sgt. Davis since I was in the 8th grade and he always asked me what I thought about becoming an officer,” he said. “He was already there to help me. I want to do something bigger than myself. I can go to college and get a degree.”
He will be attending the University of Southern Mississippi and is waiting to hear which commission he will be assigned to in the school’s ROTC program.
As a member of the National Guard, Justus Owen will be required to sign an 8-year contract, which doesn’t take effect until he graduates from college, he said. It also means he will be non-deployable while attending school.
Justus Owen is studying history and plans to pursue a career in education.
“The way I look at it, is that if you join the National Guard to be a soldier, why not enter as a high ranking soldier,” he said. “Use that time wisely at school to help with your military career. There are so many career paths to take.”
His brother Jansen Owen, after hearing of his brother’s experience with Magnolia Gold, decided to enlist in the National Guard a couple of weeks ago.
“When I was at PRCC, they didn’t have Magnolia Gold and once he got into it, I liked it,” Jansen Owen said. “I started thinking about it myself. It’s always been in the back of my mind to join the military and become a lawyer too. Those two didn’t fit together until recently.”
Jansen Owen will begin his first semester at Tulane University Law School this August. Joining the National Guard will benefit the brothers financially and provide health insurance.
Jansen Owen will complete basic training and officer candidate school during summers. Once he completes law school in three years, he will sign his 8-year contract.
As of now, he is unsure of what type of law he will practice, but aims to join the Judge Advocate General program.
“A lot of JAGS will tell you they practice criminal law one day and wills the next,” he said. “It varies day-to-day and by assignment.”
For the past five years, Jansen Owen said he has seen many sides of the law from criminal to divorce to probate. He also served as current Pearl River County Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman’s campaign manager and assumed the role of her chief deputy when she took office in January.
Justus Owen said there are better scholarship opportunities available for students who complete 2-year ROTC programs. Magnolia Gold credits transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi.
“If you graduate college, stay with the Guard and then focus on a full-time career,” he said. “They can help set up job interviews with big name companies.”
If anything, Jansen Owen said he wished the college had offered the program earlier, giving him the opportunity to participate in Magnolia Gold at PRCC.
“The opportunity to serve is our biggest reason,” he added.
For more information about The National Guard, contact Davis at 601-466-0866 and through email at Interested parties can also stop by one of the recruiting offices located at 100 Rodeo St. in Poplarville and 1251 Hwy. 11 in Picayune.
“There are multiple ways of getting into the National Guard to be an officer and multiple ways for people to succeed,” Davis said.
Learn more at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox