I owe the United States, my Country

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Officer

Kentucky National Guardsman Marlon Jones receives his second lieutant rank at a commission ceremony in Lexington, Ky. (photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky National Guardsman 2nd Lt.  Marlon R. Jones, a native of Trinidad, a naturalized US citizen, and Northern Kentucky University alumnus, received a commission Saturday going from Sergeant to 2nd Lieutenant, at the MG John Russell Groves Jr. Kentucky Army National Guard Armory.

“When I met with Sgt. Jones, he told me he was seeking a commission as an officer. As we continued to talk about his future plans he presented me with a well thought out written plan that would take him all the way to becoming The Adjutant General one day” said Lt. Col. Brian Wertzler, the 138th Fires Brigade commander.

It may sound picture perfect going from a sergeant to a lieutenant. It seems like a great deal to any Soldier given the dramatic increase in rank and pay.

For most Soldiers it would be but Jones is not most Soldiers and it would not be that easy for him. But Jones was not new to tough times.

The 29-year-old was born in Trinidad and was able to come to the United States with his mother because of a loving and hardworking grandfather. He graduated from High School in Florida and joined the Marines in 2000.

Kentucky Guardsman Marlon Jones goes from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant at a promotion ceremony in Lexington, Ky. (photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler)

“I have always been so grateful of what this country, my country, for what it has done for me that I knew I had to give back” said Jones.

After serving four years as a U.S. Marine and with three deployments already under his belt, to include Afghanistan as infantrymen and Guantanamo Bay working Perimeter Security, Jones became a U.S. citizen and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

He went on to graduate from Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership and has almost completed his Masters.

He then became a recruiter for the National Guard was even named the Recruiter of the year in 2009.  Life was good.

He had a degree and was an active Guard Recruiter as a sergeant with a steady paycheck that was providing his wife Isabel and seven year-old daughter Karmyn with a roof over their head and food on the table.

However he wanted bigger things for his family and for him that meant to commission and become an officer.

In order to receive his commission though he would have to resign his position as a recruiter, this also meant that there would be no more job, and no more steady paychecks. He could have received a direct commission and get his commission quicker but that would mean he loses his income as a recruiter even sooner. Instead he took the longer route, allowing himself time to find another job while, continuing to do his job as a recruiter and provide for his family.

Even still, giving up his job would not be an easy decision.

“I spent a lot of time talking it over with my wife and praying about it,” said Jones. “She is amazing (wife Isabel) and she supported me and accepted that there would be some tough times and she really helped me by providing a stress-free environment at home, which made me feel comfortable that I was making the right decision for all of us.”

“Between Col. Rondal Turner and Lt. Col. Brian Wertzler I have been given so much sound advice and encouragement which was a major factor in my decision as well,” said Jones.

Then the soft-spoken and very humble Jones was asked, what did it feel like to pull that sergeant rank off and put that Lt rank on.

To which he broke into a wide smile and said, “It feels great, but it’s just a step.”

That is to say, a very big step.

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