From Queens to Marines
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Brown eyes, six-feet tall and an athletic build, all traits of a man who grew up in the borough of Queens in New York, New York, decided average wasn’t good enough and joined the world’s greatest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps.
At 21 years of age, Cpl. Darius Jones, intelligence analyst with Marine Aircraft Group 12 on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, said his 16 years of growing up in Queens wasn’t always the easiest of times, and although his family situation wasn’t always right, he didn’t see that as a reason to stop from bettering himself.
“The neighborhood was a cesspool of violence and corruption,” said Jones. “On top of that, my father was in and out for years at a time leaving my mom with the sole responsibility of raising me. I had a chronic habit of getting in trouble with my friends who I thought were cool because they rebelled against authority.”
Jones said one morning he had gone through a phase and identity crisis that teenagers have where he had no idea what he wanted to do and seriously considered his future.
“I found the passion and the drive to do better,” said Jones. “Especially when I was growing up in bad parts of New York, and I knew that wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
Always making the best of every situation, Jones found a chance to put himself in a position where he can control his own success and the outcome of his actions.
After moving to Texas to finish his education, Jones came across an opportunity he couldn’t turn down leading him to where he is at today.
“I saw a group of Marines when I was coming home from school one day,” said Jones. “They were running back to their recruiting substation, and they looked tight. They looked aggressive, calm, collected, and moved me in a way the Marine Corps commercials couldn’t. They were running in formation aligned to the right, and left and singing this cadence. The cadence just spoke to me. It spoke straight to my soul, and I knew that being a Marine is what I wanted to do with my life.”
The teenager went to boot camp where he emerged a private in the Marine Corps. He went on to work his way up to Lance Cpl., a rank which he spent 8 months as before getting an opportunity to be meritoriously promoted.
After meritoriously earning the rank of corporal, Jones began to fill his leadership role, take charge of his junior Marines and set the example of how Marines should carry themselves.
“Cpl. Jones is what every senior leader wants in a junior Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Merrill, intelligence chief for MAG-12. “A display of professionalism in all action that is taken and sought out after. His heart is in the development of every Marine from lowest rank to the top of the ladder. He personally strives to find ways to improve every situation for himself, his Marines, section, unit and Corps. He’s a very quiet fellow with a devotion to his organization and country deeper than any body of water.”
Jones has taken everything life has thrown at him and still manages to succeed and move closer to reaching his goals of being not only the best Marine he can be but to be the best person he can be.
“Cpl. Jones has a lot of ideas and dreams,” said Lance Cpl. Stephanie T. Allen, intelligence analyst and with MAG-12 on MCAS Iwakuni. “He is one of the few people I know that can make a dream a reality. He not only pushes himself to his limits and beyond, but makes sure he pushes his junior Marines. That, in every way, affects the morale and motivation of myself and other Marines I know in a positive aspect.”
Allen said the corporal embodies the Marine Corps values of honor, courage, commitment, and dedicates his time to bettering himself as well as his junior Marines by upholding himself to the highest standards possible throughout everyday life.
Jones takes what he’s learned through hardships and incorporates them into teaching points where he can help Marines learn to work through their struggles. He recently held a shop physical training exercise at the obstacle course followed by Professional Military Education on leadership.
“The obstacle course was the best way I could get the Marines into that combat mindset,” said Jones. “It was a modified obstacle course where they had two bowls of water that they had to maneuver through the obstacles. Sometimes we find problems where we have to be creative and get outside of our comfort zone. The bowl of water represents those problems that we have to maneuver around.”
Testing his Marines and how they handled problems, Jones analyzed their strengths and weaknesses to find where he could help them grow.
“My time with Cpl. Jones has taught me to always look at the brighter side of the situation,” said Merrill. “I have witnessed how his daily display for passion, ethics and motivation inspires all who he encounters in a positive direction.”
Merrill said Jones is one of the most unique Marines that he’s lead. When it comes to Jones’ commitment to the Marine Corps and his fellow Marines, Jones has a drive that surpasses his ability, and he can’t wait to see what he does.
Jones’ biggest lesson that he strives to teach, not only to Marines but to anyone who can benefit from it, is to always look past what’s stopping them from getting where they want and make their own path to get there.
“If you’re struggling with anything, just remember there’s always somebody doing worse,” said Jones. “There’s somebody in a worse position that wishes they could be in your position. There’s a solution to your problems, and you can move forward and do bigger and better things in your life.”
Everyone has different ways to cope with stress and overcome their own obstacles. Jones found ways that helped him in the worst of situations and used them to get where he is today.
“No matter how low I was in life, I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Jones. “Music and my mom are what helped me through my issues. I’m grateful for those two things in life. Without those two things, I don’t know if I would be here today.”