In this recurring special feature, Nonahood News recognizes and honors those everyday heroes who have served or are currently serving our country and making a difference in our community. Those who reside in the Lake Nona and surrounding area are our Nona Heroes.
This month’s hero is Kimberly Jones. She was raised in Saudi Arabia and was the daughter of an Aramco Oil employee.
“As a child, I spent my time riding Arabian horses and racing sailing boats with my father in the Arabian Sea when I was not in school.”
At the age of 14, Jones attended a boarding school in Bluche, Switzerland, where skiing was astounding all year long. By the time she graduated in 1975, she had wanted to attend Lausanne American University, but her parents had other plans. Jones then found herself at Seattle University studying Political Science and Paralegal Studies from Edmonds Community College.
“From there, my life became somewhat nomadic, and I moved around. By 1982, I was married and had two small children under the age of three. Work was not going well for my husband, and he was ex-military. Advertising on television was routinely saying how much ‘Uncle Sam wants you.’ So, we decided to join the Army, but [what] really happened was I joined the Army. A different story!”
So off she went to Fort McClellan in Alabama for training. At just 24 years old, she was the oldest recruit in the group and had several challenges ahead of her.
“Physical training was the hardest thing I faced in the military, despite having tried to prepare before arriving. Having signed up for Military Police, they were tough, and we trained with Marines, which made it worse. Those guys were like steel. The only way for me to get through was to latch onto a Marine that I met and got him to drag me through the training in fair exchange for one plane ticket home to see his girlfriend at Christmas. Done,” Jones playfully exclaimed. “Without this guy’s tenacity to push me around, I would have never made it out of training. Unethical bartering, maybe! Successful finish, definitely!”
Jones soon found herself at Fort Bragg, being welcomed to the 52nd MP CO, where she was assigned to a Military Police Investigations Unit.
“My most exciting case was breaking up a fight between two really big guys who apparently were arguing over a girl. When I pulled up, they looked at me, 5’10 and 114 lbs. They could have ignored me or tore into me, but one guy said, ‘I know, my momma taught us better, we are just being buttheads.’ They were Army buddies, joined together and served together.”
As most individuals who’ve served know, events in the military cause change. Jones was moved to an airborne unit and began the appropriate training with a can-do attitude … until the day came to jump from a perfectly good airplane.
“We boarded the C-130 at Pope Air Force Base and took off. Everything seemed like it was going to be a momentous day until I watched the jumpmaster hang out of the plane door. I believe he exaggerated that hang just a little further than normal to freak me out – and it worked. Boy, was I nauseated … quite sure I turned green, and I decided right then that I was a ‘LEG.’ I told the jumpmaster my legs worked just fine, and I was going down with the plane. He told me I would fail the course. My ‘look’ apparently told him failure was perfectly fine because he told them to take me down.”
Although being airborne wasn’t meant for her, Jones found another way to utilize her degree and be of service.
“The next day [after failing to jump out of a plane], I was back at the 52nd talking with the Company Commander. He said my options were ‘slimming, but you will check into the 65th. You can type, correct? Say you type.’ Okay, I type,” joked Jones as she reminisced on her next journey in the military. “My career at the 65th MP Company was spent typing reports and reorganizing volumes of misfiled documents. During my service with the 65th, I was able to get a lot of interesting training as the entire brigade found out that I was a ‘darn good typist’ and I was a ‘paralegal,’ so I was able to often fill in within the JAG and sometimes even with the Brigadiers General’s office. All of that experience did gain communication skills I would need for my future career.”
In 1993, her career was cut short when she was rear-ended and injured. From that point, Jones had to overcome several obstacles: surgery and rehabilitation in Ft. Bragg that didn’t go well. Before leaving the service, Jones ended up remarrying, and, when she got out, she and her new husband moved to Michigan.
“After another three years of rehabilitation and follow-up surgeries outside the military on temporary retirement, my career formally ended.”
Jones moved around the country working for Blue Cross Blue Shield before ending up in the Lake Nona area about 18 months ago with her granddaughter, Kauri, to be closer to the rest of her family who lives in Lake Nona.
“The big plus was finding the state-of-the-art Veterans Hospital right here in Lake Nona. Many VA hospitals around the country have treated me, and I cannot say enough about the level of care that I have received at the Lake Nona VAMC. The specialist is fantastic, and my primary care physician in the Woman’s Clinic is on the ball.”
If you would like to nominate someone for our next Nona Heroes feature, please send an email to email@example.com or complete the form here:nonahood.to/nonaheroes.