1/1 Marine Spouse Flies Home Free Due to Generosity of Former Marine

20 Jan 2004 | Sgt. Mark P. Ledesma

The biggest sacrifices made in the current war against terror are not only made by the men and women currently serving in operations around the world, but also by the families they leave behind. Back home, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are affected.A former Marine who served during the Vietnam War recognized those sacrifices and recently lent a helping hand to a spouse whose husband is currently deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).During the Christmas Holidays, Stephen G. Smith purchased a round-trip plane ticket for Julie Jones, wife of Sgt. Jacob Jones of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, so she can spend the holidays home with her family while her husband was away.“Being a Marine in the 60’s, I remember leaving my wife five months pregnant for Vietnam,” said Smith. “It was a terrible feeling to see the look on her face.”Smith does things for people everyday of his life, some little and some big, he said.“I do this to carry on what my dad instilled in me,” Smith said, “to help other people and also out of respect for my father-in-law, who gave 34 years of his life to the country I love by serving in the Marine Corps.”He was put in touch with Jones through the 13th MEU’s Key Volunteer Network, an organization designed for Marine spouses, which aids them while their spouse is away on deployment.“I received an email from my KVC informing me of a gentleman looking for a Marine wife fitting (certain) qualifications to send home for Christmas,” said Jones, a Key volunteer for Company A, BLT 1/1.According to Jones, none of the wives in Company A met the qualifications because most of them had either moved back home for the duration of the deployment, had children, or had family to visit in California. Without looking to see if she herself met the criteria, Jones sent a message back to the KVC saying no one in her company qualified.“A few weeks went by and several people asked me if I (was) going home for Christmas,” Jones said. “I told them I was not planning on it due to the prices of flying home to South Carolina. I was just planning on volunteering at a soup kitchen on Christmas or playing my soprano saxophone at a nursing home.”To her surprise, she later received a phone call saying a gentleman was going to contact her and that she shouldn’t second-guess his generosity.“I was really excited when I received the phone call,” she said. “I was very blessed and touched that someone would do something so special for someone they do not know.”According to Jones, she had an opportunity to speak with Smith over the phone on several occasions.“He is an amazing guy,” she said. “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Smith’s generosity extended beyond the plane ticket, Jones said.“A few days before I was about to leave, he called me saying he and his wife was sending me $100 to pay for my transportation to and from the airport,” she said.Jones arrived in South Carolina on Dec. 24. She was able to spend time with friends and family until Jan. 4.“I spent Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, driving around looking at Christmas lights and opening gifts,” said Jones. “It was truly a blessing. It helped being around family while my husband was away. I think the hardest part was having our one-year anniversary and not having him (here).”
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit