Family military history drives Sky Soldier, West Point Alumnus

By Staff Sgt. Timothy Hughes, 24th Press Camp HQDecember 12, 2016

Physician in the field
U.S. Army Maj. Joseph Jones, physician, 173rd Airborne Brigade, poses during a training mission with Paratroopers, Company D, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, in Sulecin, Poland, Nov. 30, 2016. The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vic... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

DRAWSKO POMORSKIE, Poland -- Why did you join the U.S. Army? That is one question Soldiers are bound to hear on many occasions throughout their career.

Although there are various answers to this question, one recurring response is centered on a Soldier's family tradition of service to their country.

At the age of 10, Maj. Joseph Jones looked at his family's legacy in the military and "knew that was what I was going to do."

As a grandchild of a World War II veteran, son of a U.S. Air Force veteran, and nephew of a West Point graduate, military service ran in the blood of this impressionable pre-teen.

"For me," said Jones, now a West Point graduate and physician assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, "it was pretty deep."

"I was going to try to be a military officer like my father and my uncle," he said. "It honestly seemed extremely natural."

The road on his personal map of success featured a few curves and detours, even in his teenage years.

As an upperclassman in high school, Jones inquired with the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado about becoming a pilot but was denied because, according to him, "At the time, they didn't let you correct your vision."

"I had horrible vision," Jones said. "The Air Force Academy guy told me, 'If you come here, you won't be flying our jets.'"

It didn't take him a long time to rethink his career options.

"I knew I wanted to, first, fight the enemy, and then I wanted to go to medical school," he said. "I don't know why I knew that so specifically at 18 but I knew that was how I wanted to do it.

Since he'd already been vetted for admission to the Air Force Academy, he made a request to his congressman to redirect his nomination packet to West Point.

Jones graduated from West Point and served in the 101st Airborne Division from 2001 to 2004.

In 2004, Jones began medical school and in 2008 returned to active duty to attend the orthopedic surgery residency program at Tripler Army Medical Center.

Jones is now deployed to Poland with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a part of Atlantic Resolve. The Bowie, Maryland, native serves as the unit's physician and lead medical officer in charge of a physician's assistant and a medical team.

"I'm basically the primary care provider for this unit," he said. "I see the guys for their bumps and bruises. I send them to specialists. I send them to get images."

Although medical standards vary in different countries, Jones seeks common ground to get the best-possible treatment for Soldiers deployed overseas.

Additionally, Jones compiles statistics and briefs the commander on the injury status of Soldiers in the unit while Capt. Royce Frazee, the physician assistant, is responsible for training the enlisted medical Soldiers. His medics train the combat lifesavers who operate at various levels in the unit.

Being part of a Paratrooper unit comes with inherent risks. Jones' team plays an important role in ensuring the "Sky Soldiers" are ready to accomplish any mission given to them at a moment's notice. This means keeping them healthy.

"A lot of injury prevention is just common sense," Jones said. "Wear your (protective) eyewear, don't do crazy stuff with your Soldiers, and don't play tackle football.

"You would be surprised at how many very reasonable activities lead to really bad injuries," he said.

Prior to the deployment Jones and his team trained extensively on how to treat injuries that are within their medical specialties.

In addition to receiving world class training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, his team visited the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's Medical Simulation Training Center, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, prior to deploying to Atlantic Resolve.

The simulation center has medical training dummies connected to laptops that allow evaluators to "make them do anything: scream, make their heart rate change, make their heart rate stop," which medical practitioners have to respond to and treat.

The unit will be finishing up their deployment to Atlantic Resolve in February. After he returns, Jones plans to finish his residency program to become an orthopedic surgeon.


The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.


U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.

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