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Florence Veterans Day Ceremony speaker returns to his Pee Dee roots

Nov 10 2019
Don Kausler Jr. |SC NOW

FLORENCE, S.C. – U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey “Jeff” Jones is coming home.

The Pee Dee native is the keynote speaker for the annual Florence Veterans Day Ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Florence Veterans Park.

Jones serves as the deputy adjutant general for the South Carolina Military Department, effective April 17, 2019.

“My family is from Johnsonville,” Jones said. “Dad was in the school business. I was born in Bennettsville, but my family’s from Johnsonville. Dad became the superintendent in Latta and later in Chesterfield. That’s where my parents are now.

“In all of those towns, there was one thing in common: You went to Florence to have fun, so Florence is really home to me also.”

So being asked to deliver the keynote speech “absolutely” is special,” Jones said, particularly on a day when a Gold Star Families Monument will be dedicated.

“Florence is a home of patriots,” he said. “From everything from the National Cemetery to the memorial park, you don’t find communities that reflect patriotism quite like Florence. It’s a special place. I’ve always considered it a second home.

“It’s really one of the finest honors I’ve had. No. 1, to be able to come home to the Pee Dee area and speak to Florence, but also to have the opportunity to stand on the stage and show my support and my respect and honor to all those veterans in the Pee Dee who served, to their families and also to be able to pay respects to military’s most important families, which are our Gold Star families. That’s what that monument is all about.”

Jones has served in the military for 34 years. He has been the state’s deputy adjutant general since April.

“I am second in command of the South Carolina military department,” he said of his role. “That includes the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, the South Carolina State Guard and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.”

Jones enlisted in the South Carolina Army National Guard in 1985 as a 13B, Field Artillery Cannon Crewman, and was assigned to Service Battery, 3-178th Field Artillery (FA) in Chesterfield. Jones subsequently attended Palmetto Military Academy (OCS) and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1987.

A career field artilleryman, Jones has been a fire direction officer and executive officer, Battery B, 3-178 Field Artillery in Bennettsville; a fire support officer, 51st Aviation Group, Columbia; a battalion fire direction officer and assistant operations officer, HQ, 3-178th Field Artillery in Lancaster; the commander of Battery C, 3-178th Field Artillery in Cheraw and Hartsville; a senior tactical officer at Palmetto Military Academy in Leesburg; and a brigade fire control officer, 151st Field Artillery Brigade in Sumter.

In 2002, Jones was assigned as operations officer (S-3), 4-178th Field Artillery in Georgetown. He subsequently served as assistant S-3, 151st Field Artillery Brigade. In July of 2004, Jones deployed as Battalion S-3, 1-178th Field Artillery in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon redeploying, Jones was assigned as an executive officer, 51st RAOC (Rear Area Operation Cell) in Florence.

“I served at the armory near the airport,” Jones said. “I was there for one year.”

In 2007, Jones was promoted to lieutenant colonel and served as battalion commander, 1-178th Field Artillery.

In May 2009, Jones was assigned as a brigade executive officer of the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Charleston. He served as the chief of staff during the brigade’s mission as headquarters, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosive consequence management response force, an immediate response asset for U.S. Army NORTHCOM. In August of 2011, Jones was assigned as 218th maneuver enhancement brigade deputy commander and, from 2012 to 2013, he was deployed to Kosovo as deputy commander, multi-national battle group-east (NATO KFOR).

From January 2014 to May of 2017, Jones served as commander of the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. During his command, the brigade served as joint task force operations, command and control, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response element. Jones also commanded the Task Force Defense Support to Civil Authorities operations along the entire South Carolina coast during the 2015 South Carolina floods and Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016.

Jones is a 1987 graduate of The Citadel, and he holds master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina in Columbia and the U.S. Army War College. Among his military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the NATO Medal (KFOR). Jones resides in Mount Pleasant with his wife, Amanda. They have three children: Houston, Lydia and Isobel.

On Monday, Jones plans to talk about veterans, about their service and how special it is.

“They’re soldiers for life,” he said. “They still have responsibility to tell their story, to be involved in their community.

“I plan on talking about how we as a military community can better show our support to veterans and to Gold Star families. And I also plan to speak of the fallen and talk about how uniting, loving, helping and encouraging veterans and their families is a way that that we go forward, because life goes on for these people.

Jones will talk today about his story, including how he embarked on a military career.

“Every veteran and every soldier’s responsibility is to tell their story, especially to young people who might be interested in the service,” he said. “The most important thing that we do is tell our story.”

Where did his story start?

“I was preparing to go to The Citadel,” Jones said. “Frankly, I was looking for a way to make money for college. 34 years later, what I’ve gotten out of this is far more valuable than any type of currency that could be given.”