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thedrifter
07-07-05, 05:51 AM
Alabama native deploys for first time, serves in Al Asad
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2005769251
Story by Cpl. C. Alex herron

AL ASAD, Iraq (July 6, 2005) -- Since the age of seven, Cpl. Allen Jones, the air tasking order production chief with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, has been involved in athletic competition. From Pop Warner football in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., to starring in three sports at Austin High School and earning a scholarship to play college football, Jones’ life has revolved around sports.

“While growing up sports kept me out of trouble,” said the 2001 graduate of Austin High School. “Even now, I’m constantly playing [basketball] trying to improve my skills. When I get out of the military, I want to try and play junior college basketball before I get too old to compete.”

Jones missed out on his first chance to play college sports during his senior year of high school when he broke his collar bone and lost his scholarship to play football at Southern University in Louisiana.

Prior to earning the scholarship, Jones joined the Delayed Entry Program and had aspirations of becoming a Marine.

“Missing out on my scholarship was hard, but I had already enlisted in the Marines my junior year. After I healed I left for boot camp four days after I graduated high school,” Jones said.

Jones decided on the Marine Corps after looking into other services and wanted something the other services couldn’t offer him.

“I wanted a challenge, both physical and mental,” Jones said. “The Marine Corps was the only service that I felt could offer me a unique challenge.”

After graduating boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., and initial combat training, he reported to Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, Calif., to work in the base operations office.

“Miramar was good for me. I was able to play for the base basketball team for three straight years and was selected to the all-Marine team in 2004,” Jones said.

In November 2004, Jones completed his tour in California and reported to Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C. After only four weeks in the Palmetto State, Jones was sent to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., to prepare for his current deployment.

“Being able to deploy is what I wanted to do after not being able to for three years. When I was asked to deploy soon after my arrival I jumped at the chance,” he said.

From the start, Jones has been excited about supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and working in the future operations section.

“Our mission is to track everything that flies in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing area of operations,” Jones said. “Having a hand in the planning of operations is a job I’m proud to be a part of. Our mission is to provide air support for the units operating on the ground. This is something I’ve always wanted to have a hand in. It is a privilege to be here.”

Jones, who is filling a staff noncommissioned officer billet, has proven he can be relied on by his superiors and subordinates.

“He is a good leader of Marines. He takes every responsibility and challenge as a new way to improve. I knew after Jones attached to us in January that he and our other corporal would be able to handle the responsibility,” said Master Sgt. Curtis Clark, the future operations chief with the forward deployed 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom doesn’t come without sacrifice. Jones is no different, leaving behind a wife and young daughter.

“My wife is supportive, but is ready for my return,” Jones said. “The hardest part is my daughter. She just turned three and is at the age where she realizes I’m not around and she asks about me every time I call home.”

With the support from his family and a solid work ethic, Jones has all he needs to keep focused on his mission and continue to move aircraft and support the units on the ground that demand first rate air support to accomplish their mission.

Ellie