To Olympic athletes, bronze is the color of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.
In the military, bronze is the color of honor, dedication, and sacrifice.
Few uniformed service members alive today can vouch for that. Chief Warrant Officer-2 Jeffrey Thomas Jones II, Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer-in-charge with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, can.
Named Explosive Ordnance Disposal’s Officer of the Year, Jones received a Bronze Star with Combat V at a promotion ceremony held at the Cannon Air Defense Complex in Yuma on Aug. 1. The medal was awarded to Jones for his role as an EOD Section Chief with 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force, from April, 2010 to October, 2010, in Afghanistan. Then a master sergeant, Jones personally completed a total of 96 EOD responses, disarmed 5 improvised explosive devices’ by himself, and supervised four EOD teams in a cumulative total of 343 incidents.
“It’s an honor,” said Jones, days after being promoted in front a memorial for 43 fallen EOD brothers-in-arms at the Combined Explosive Ordnance Disposal building. “But these Marines here, these are the ones that are the heroes. They made the ultimate sacrifice, “ added Jones.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Jones was no stranger to hard work. Growing up in a rural farming community had Jones baling hay at an early age in a close-knit family of eight. The countryside of Columbus also found him fishing, hunting and riding dirt bikes.
The grandson of a retired Army technical sergeant and retired Army master sergeant, Jones did not take the decision to serve his country lightly. He was advised by his grandfathers about the weight of military life and the other options available to him.
With a family to support, a 23-year -old Jones took to the service.
“I wanted to join when I was younger, but I had a good job. Five years down the road, I got laid off,” said Jones. “I was roofing houses, but winter time came and I had a son and no way to support the family at that time.”
Jones would become the first Marine from either side of the family. From the get-go, Jones was attracted to infantry. He enlisted in July 1997 and hit the ground running as an infantryman.
EOD first caught Jones’ attention as a young lance corporal during a 14-15 mile hump while training in the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The program was not considering anyone below corporal at the time. A few years down the road, as a marksmanship instructor and block noncommissioned officer on the pistol range at Quantico, VA., Jones went over and talked to EOD.
“I did a lateral move interview, they accepted me and I haven’t looked back since,” said Jones. “I’ve been in EOD just over 10 years.”
With more than a decade’s worth of experience, Jones is conscious of the realities that come with his responsibility as an EOD technician. In a job where one is required to step into combat to locate, disarm, and dispose of each hidden improvised explosive device, Jones knows full well the dangers that come with the territory.
“I have a lot of faith in my husband,” said Kelly Jones, his wife and a native of Long Island, NY. “I’m concerned that he’s over there, but I know he knows what he’s doing.”
As a father of two, Robert and Samantha, Jones does not let his position or his accomplishments get in the way of crediting the Marines around him and the Corps itself.
“In today’s age, with the IED threat, definitely EOD plays a big role in that,” said Jones. “However, we’re no more important than motor transport because without trucks, we don’t get gear. Food services, we can’t eat, we can’t live, we can’t fight.”
Jones’ role as EOD Section Leader led to the destruction of 1,286 Net Explosive Weight of enemy ammunition and explosives. Also serving as the directed telescope for the battalion commander and operations officer, Jones ensured operational effectiveness.
“We don’t do what we do for the awards or the accolades. That’s just a byproduct,” said Jones. “We do it because we want to save lives of other Marines.”
The 15-year-Marine is quick to put his accomplishments in perspective.
“I have to thank my junior Marines,” said Jones. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the Marines that work for me. No military officer or leader is where they’re at without the great Marines that they lead.”