While World War II soldiers are being specially remembered this Memorial Day, there is another group who needs to be remembered as well. Those soldiers, who are currently serving in the Iraq War, are in the hearts and minds of everyone throughout the area.
Especially on the minds of Ed and Beth Jones is their son, Todd S. Jones, who was recently deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, for one year with the First Infantry Division. Jones is a 1st Lieutenant with the U.S. Army; he is due to be promoted to Captain in September 2004. The Joneses also have a nephew, Josh Jones, with the 1st Armored Division. He has been redeployed back to Germany, but will be sent back to Iraq again soon for three months.
Born at Alexandria Hospital, Jones attended Washington Mill Elementary School and Walt Whitman Middle School; he graduated from Bishop Ireton High School in 1997. Jones graduated from James Madison University in 2001 on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. He attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. Subsequently, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, Schweinfurt, Germany, where he was deployed to Kosovo on two occasions.
Ed Jones said that his son had hoped to spend more time in Germany, where his girlfriend is also currently living. “He hasn’t had much time to travel; he’s been deployed all the time.”
WHILE ED AND BETH worry about their son, a report from Todd said, “Things aren’t that bad over here. Once in awhile, we get mortared.”
Communication with their son is sporadic. Ed said that Todd will e-mail when he gets to a computer, but he doesn’t have time to say much. When he calls, the connection is bad, with a lot of static on this end.
Ed and Beth Jones have lived in the Mount Vernon area for 28 years. Ed, a Viet Nam veteran, spent 11 years on active duty with the Army, retired from the Army Reserves as a Colonel after 30 years of service and is currently employed with the General Services Administration.
Beth has been a Department of the Army civilian in personnel management for more than 32 years. Todd’s sister, Jenny, who graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1999, received her Bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in December 2003, and works for Office Movers.
Ed said that Beth makes some kind of cookie every week to send overseas. While theyíre not quite sure how long it takes or when he gets them, they are shared and appreciated.
ALSO APPRECIATIVE OF those goodie packages was Austin Roberts. He recently returned from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, and said that it was “hot, dusty and dirty.”
He couldn’t talk much about where he had served, but seemed happy to be home with family and friends.
His mother, Ruth, said, “For nine months, people have been asking, ‘How’s he doing?’ When something happened over there, people would say, ‘Is he all right?’ So many people sent packages. People he didn’t even know just wanted to help.”
Ruth and Steve held a big party at their Alexandria home last week to celebrate the homecoming of their son. On hand were family friends, neighbors and fellow T. C. Williams’ graduates.
“He looks great,” said classmate Shawn Ryan who was there with Alex Rich. “It seems like he’s matured more than any of us. It’s great to see him.”
Ruth Roberts said that she has been disgusted with all the negative news and wanted to make this a positive story.
There are a couple of ways to remember the soldiers from this area. Cathy Chauvette, assistant manager at Sherwood Regional Library, said that they have sent quite a few packages of books overseas. This service was suggested by former veterans who serve as Friends of Sherwood Regional Library, and who remember how much they liked receiving packages.
Chauvette said that it can work one of two ways; people who know soldiers can come in and select from any of the books in the book sale. One of the members will package up the books and send them overseas; postage is paid for by the Friends.
They will also get Chauvette’s expertise on what kind of books to send, especially in the area of Science Fiction. Many people don’t know a soldier who is serving, but want to help. They can donate books and add to one of the envelopes being prepared for another.
Patty Biniek, manager of Power Video, is collecting used DVDs or videos in response to a call she received from Bethesda Naval Hospital. They told her that there was a short supply of good, current movies for the soldiers who are recovering at the hospital.
Ways to Remember
Sherwood Hall Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, is collecting books for soldiers. Anybody with used books can donate them to the book sale. These books are then available for shipping to individual soldiers. For more information, call 703-765-3645.
Patty Biniek, manager of Power Video, is asking the community to donate new or slightly used DVDs or Videos. They will be donated to the recovering soldiers at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital. A box will be available at the store, which is located at 1628-A Belle View Blvd. For more information, call 703-768-2877.