” LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Ask Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walter Jones why he serves and he will tell you “It’s all about flying and Soldiers
Jones, born in Mountain Home, ID., is serving in Afghanistan as an aviation maintenance officer with D Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. Jones enlisted in the Army at the age of eighteen and after completing basic training in 1969, went on to Fort Rucker to become a Huey crew chief. Soon after that he found himself assigned to the 162nd Assault Helicopter Company in Can Tu, Vietnam.
One day during a mission his aircraft started to receive small arms fire. Rounds struck the helicopter’s fuel cell, and the aircraft immediately caught fire. The helicopter began to spin about 200 feet above the ground.
Jones braced for impact and was knocked unconscious.
He was injured and spent ten months recovering in the hospital. During this time he made an important decision.
“That experience really made me focus on what I wanted to do with my life,” said Jones, “I wanted to make a career out of the Army.”
The Army re-classified him as a telephone line repairman and stationed him with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Having valuable combat experience as a Huey crew chief in Vietnam, he quickly found his way back into aviation.
This was also his first experience with the Cold War during the Arab-Israeli War in 1973.He remembers sitting on the green ramp being on standby to support Israel if needed, but Israel did not require it.
While at Fort Bragg he saw the experimental balsa wood full scale model of the future UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. He pointed to one of his buddies and said, “I am going to fly that one day.”
“And I did,” said Jones, now a veteran Black Hawk pilot.”