Schuylkill County, Pa. soldier killed in Afghanistan
The War on Terror has claimed the life of another soldier from Schuylkill County.
Capt. Jason Benjamin Jones, 29, formerly of Orwigsburg, was killed after being wounded in a small-arms fire fight Monday near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Jones was the commander of a 12-man Special Forces A-Team with the Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets.
"This is a special kid out of Schuylkill County," his father, Attorney Jay Jones, Pottsville, said Tuesday.
A 2003 graduate of Blue Mountain High School, Jones earned a degree in nuclear engineering at West Point Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 2007 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He was then assigned to Second Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and deployed to Iraq, where he served as a platoon leader, company executive officer and battalion air operations officer.
He continued his military education, receiving various degrees and awards including the Bronze Star during his deployment in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 and the Iron Panther Award as part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
He joined the Green Berets in May 2013 and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April 2014.
Jay Jones said his son always wanted to join the military.
"His ambition in that regard started quite early in life," he said. "He loved to watch the movie 'Top Gun' and from that point forward, that's what he wanted to do."
Jones was also a skilled athlete both in high school and the military academy. He played soccer and basketball at Blue Mountain High School and was captain of his Sandhurst Military Skills Team at West Point.
"He just loved to be on teams," his mother, Suzy Jones, Orwigsburg, said.
His parents also coached him in soccer and basketball.
"If we were in a pinch and I needed a goalie, he would do it," she said.
Jones would have celebrated his first wedding anniversary this month. He married Dr. Amy Weniger on June 15, 2013, in a ceremony at West Point.
"They were just head over heels about one another," Jay Jones said. "It was a match made in heaven."
"They were really cute together and really just adored each other," Suzy Jones said. "It's really sad to know that she lost him."
The couple resided in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with a rescued beagle named Molly.
"He just loved Molly," Jay Jones said. "He was also a fisherman. He loved to fish in the ocean and became an expert fly fisherman. He also liked to golf."
Jones also had a younger sister, Dr. Lizzy Jones, Orwigsburg.
"We are thankful for the beautiful wedding ceremony at West Point," she said. "It was a day out of heaven to see him that happy and we will always have that."
Lizzy said that she looked up to her older brother and will continue to do so.
"My brother was just so funny. He became such a good story teller and he could just light up a room," she said. "We became really close and he had so much courage in everything he did. He earned his own education and kept pushing himself to the next level. Anytime I was at a difficult point or felt scared, I always thought of his courage and I will always do that."
Suzy said she recently received a letter from her son while he was in Afghanistan.
"He said he absolutely loved what he was doing and was happy to be helping people. He felt they were really making a difference," she said. "If everyone tried as hard as Jason did, this world would be a fantastic place to live in."
In Orwigsburg, flags were already being flown at half staff Tuesday evening. Residents have also put out flags, flowers and pictures of the late county native. A wreath has also been placed around a photo of him at center square.
"It just means so much to me that a town would do that for my son," Suzy said. "I'm amazed that people cared so much to do this for us."
Jones is the third soldier from Schuylkill County killed in action in the War on Terror.
Capt. David Boris, 30, a 1995 Pottsville High School graduate, died in Bermel, Afghanistan, when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device on Nov. 12, 2007.
Sgt. Jennifer M. Hartman, 21, a 2003 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School, was the first county native killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom after a suicide car bombing near a West Baghdad substation on Sept. 14, 2006.
A memorial service for Jones will be held Saturday with interment at West Point early next week.