Immigrant Soldier dedicated toward leadership

Story by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Lyddane

2nd LT Marlon Jones

Marlon Jones as a freshly minted “butter bar” just before his tour of duty in Djibouti. (Kentucky Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — First Lieutenant Marlon Jones is the training officer for the 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery. One only needs to take a quick glance at his bio to distinguish him as one of the best suited officers for this or any other leadership position within the Kentucky Army National Guard. You could say leadership is his life; just look at his signature block and see a quote from the business entrepreneur Jerry McClain that reads, “The best example of leadership is leadership by example.” Jones certainly lives by this mantra.

Boot

Marlon Jones as a “leatherneck.” He deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Force just one week after 9/11 as part of the first major force in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy 1st. Lt. Marlon Jones)

Jones was born in 1982 on a small island in the Caribbean known as Trinidad & Tobago and later relocated to Philadelphia, Pa. at age 10. At age 17 he had a calling to join the Marines where he enlisted as an Infantry Mortarman. Then came 9/11.  Most people can recall what we were doing during the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001.  Not many did what he did:  deploy with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Force (MEU) just one week later as part of the first major force in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“I came to the United States when I was of 10 years old, so most of the experiences which shaped who I am today have been in this country,” said Jones. “I am keenly aware though, that many of the opportunities that I have had — educational, career and the like — would not have been as accessible and some not even possible if I were still in Trinidad. Don’t get me wrong, Trinidad is a developed country, with a stable government, and an moving economy, and I imagine that I would have excelled and made a decent life for myself because it’s in my nature to drive toward success; but, I know definitively that I would not be where I am today and would not have the future opportunities that I see ahead were it not for me being in America.”

After his tour with the Marines, Jones joined the Kentucky Army National Guard in 2004.  This time when he took the oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” it was with a commitment to the 206th Chemical Battalion in Richmond, Ky.  He has always served with pride, humility, and been prepared to make the sacrifices required of him.

Jones’ mobilizations include Cuba in 2003, a second time to Afghanistan in 2005 with the 198th Military Police Battalion and then to Djibouti, Africa in 2012 with the 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery.  In Africa he was able to showcase his talents as an officer by serving as the Platoon Leader of Flight Line Security.  He also represented the Kentucky National Guard through joint training opportunities with the French Army.

“I debated whether to stay in the National Guard or to go back to the Marines after college,” said Jones.  “The National Guard though, has a distinctly different perspective form the active component. I have been all over the world and seemingly helped people whose lives are changed forever, and that’s a great thing. I feel privileged to have had those opportunities. It’s different though, to help your own people; your fellow Americans. There is a level of connection that is hard to explain, but it’s there. I felt that personally for the first time during the ice storm of 2009. At that point I was all in.”

“You often hear that someone is a rising star in the Kentucky Army Nation Guard’s officer corps,” said Lt. Col. Robert Larkin who served as Jones’ commander during the deployment to Djibouti.  “Marlon Jones is ‘that guy.’  He is a professional, a tremendously focused and disciplined young officer and at the same time personable and is able to interface well with other soldiers.”

Jones lives by the adage, a good soldier always does the right thing and completes their assigned duties but a great soldier constantly looks for the next challenge.

“I decided that I didn’t want to simply be part of this great organization for the foreseeable future,” he said.  “Instead I wanted to help shape its future. What better way to shape the future than to lead it?“

OCS Graduation

1st Lt. Marlon Jones and his wife Isabel and daughter Karmyn. “We are a busy family with early days and late evenings,” said Jones. “I am blessed to wake up every day and look forward to its start.” (Photo courtesy 1st Lt. Marlon Jones)

There are no success stories of individuals who made it to where they are by themselves. Besides the mentorship provided him by the military, Jones has had the constant love and support of his wife, Isabel and daughter, Karmyn.  Isabel, shares her husband’s ambition and passion, pursuing her own goal attending school to become an Advanced Practice Nurse. Karmyn proves the “apple does not fall far” by being involved with gymnastics, various academic teams and many other extracurricular activities.

“We are a busy family with early days and late evenings,” said Jones.  “I am blessed to wake up every day and look forward to its start. Not very many people have that opportunity. So many get caught up in making ends meet and just keeping their heads above water that they never truly do what they are called to.

“Years ago, after one of my deployments, my mother and I had a conversation where she said something to the affect of “Why don’t you get out and get a good job.” She meant well and have always had good intentions at heart, but she just didn’t get ‘it’. My response to her was “Mom, this isn’t just a job to me; this is who I am, and this is what I was meant to do.”

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