In May of 2004, Sgt. Cody Jones was deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF5) with the 2nd Battalion 5th Infantry Regiment out of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii to help in the fight against terrorism. He would be gone for one long year before returning to his duty station in May of 2005. During this time, he had to leave his wife Carlie and young son Austin, who had moved to Missouri during his deployment. It was a difficult time for Cody and his family. Carlie recalls leaning on Cody’s grandparents, Ardeth and Juanita Jones, for support; and Austin, being very young, did not really know what was going on. It has been nearly ten years since that deployment and two more children have been added to the ranks of the Jones family, Avvie and Gracie, and they recently received word that Cody will be going back to Afghanistan for nine more months.
Cody is no stranger to the military lifestyle. He joined the Army after graduating High School in 2000. After basic training and Advanced Infantry Training, or AIT, he was stationed in Hawaii for four months before going to Louisiana for one month of training. Then he met Carlie, and the two were married in November of 2001. In September of 2005, after his return from Afghanistan in May, Cody received his honorable discharge from the Army. Then, on July 4, 2007, joined back with the Missouri Army National Guard and has been in ever since, working in Cape Girardeau, with the 1140th Engineer Battalion. In November, he will start working with the 220th Engineer Company (Horizontal) out of Festus, Missouri, preparing for his next deployment with them in the summer of 2014.
“It’s hard,” says Cody about being away from his family, “It’s a lot of give and take. I’m gone about two weeks out of every month now.” That is in addition to his upcoming mobilization training and deployment, when he will not see his family for eleven long months. However, Cody says his family is “strong and supportive” and his wife Carlie “is a very strong military spouse, and without her I would not have the successful military career I have today. She is the backbone that keeps this family upright and strong.” says Cody. “When I am away, she has to be the mother and father, the wife and husband, and she has to keep this household running.”“It’s never easy,” says Carlie. “I want him here… but you get used to it. The hardest part is the kids. I knew what I was getting into when I married Cody, I chose this lifestyle. The kids didn’t, but we are a strong family and we handle it the best we can. The kids are older now, so they understand more. But they are very strong and I gain strength from them. They know we do this because their Dad is helping people…and that it is a good thing.” Cody and Carlie seem to have it figured out; which, unfortunately, is not true for many military families.
“A lot of them don’t make it,” says Cody. “You see a lot of separation and divorce in military families.” Cody and Carlie attribute all of their success to a strong support group. Whether it is friends and family, military groups, or their church community, someone is there for them if they need it.
Fortunately for the Jones family, there are some differences concerning Cody’s upcoming deployment and the one nearly ten years ago. Communications have greatly improved in recent years. Soldiers are now able to use the Internet and satellite communication more frequently, including applications like Skype and Facetime; which allow users to actually see each other. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are also more accessible. Cody’s job duties are slightly less dangerous this time around as well, “The first time I went, I was in the Infantry, as a team leader. So I pretty much spent the whole time kicking in doors. This time I’ll be pretty much sitting in an office. I’ll be the supply guy. I’ll be making sure everyone has the beans and bullets…making sure everyone has what they need.” However, being away from the family is still very hard. The sacrifices military families like the Jones’ make cannot be overstated. Hard work, often difficult and dangerous living conditions, and countless hours away from loved ones make the military lifestyle a difficult one, but when asked if he could imagine any other way of life, Cody responded, “No! I’ve tried it. It’s like being on a football team. Even if sometimes we don’t get along…we know we have each other’s back. It’s a tight knit brotherhood. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Thanks to Cody and his family, and many like them, we can enjoy the freedom we experience here on American soil. We can have the rights and liberties that are granted to us by our Constitution. So, I hope I can speak for all Americans when I say thanks to Cody and the rest of the Jones family, and to all service men and women and their families, for making the sacrifices that you make to keep us safe and free.