Friday, May 07, 2010

Army Spc. Darrell A. Jones

Remember Our Heroes

SPRINGBORO — The U.S. Army’s 377th Military Police Company’s first casualty came before it reached Afghanistan.

The weekend before the Cincinnati-based unit was to ship out, Specialist Darrell Jones died in a one-car crash, stunning his comrades and his family.

Jones, 21, of Springboro, was pronounced dead at the scene of the May 7 crash on Lower Springboro Road.

His girlfriend, Kayla Napier, 20, of Middletown, was flown by helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital with a broken left leg and a broken rib.

The couple planned to marry upon his return and raise a family in the area, family members said.

“It’s heartbreaking, they loved each other so much,” said Beverly Napier, Kayla’s grandmother and surrogate mother.

Instead on May 15, Kayla, a student at Miami University, rode with Jones’ family to his funeral, with full military honors, at Heritage Hills Memory Gardens on Ohio 48 in Clearcreek Twp.

“I’d never seen so many military and police,” her grandmother said. “It was unbelievable.”

The bulk of the 377th’s deployment left for Afghanistan last week after a memorial “final roll call” at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The deployment of another member of the unit, Ernest Moody, 20, of Wilmington, was delayed, so he could attend the funeral.

At the time of the crash, Moody and Jones were part of the unit in town for a three-day visit before heading to Afghanistan.

On May 7, Jones, Napier and Moody were driving back to Jones’ parents home after getting gas at a nearby service station in Springboro.

“Darrell started to take the long way home,” Kayla said.

Moody was following in another car as they drove along Lower Springboro Road before the crash, according to witnesses.

Investigators determined Jones’ classic 1999 Ford Mustang, was traveling eastbound at 77 mph in the 55 mph zone, twice went airborne, once for 50 feet, before veering off the road and coming to rest against a tree in the township.

“Everyone is in shock,” Kayla said. “I feel like I’ve lost my better half.”

As the 377th arrived in Afghanistan last week, the American death toll reached 1,000.

Still Kayla said, “I feel bad for him because he can’t be in Afghanistan. That’s what he wanted to do.”

Comrades recalled Jones’ ability to cheer up and motivate them.

“It’s sad. We lost a very good soldier,” said Lt. Gregory Lee, the unit’s rear detachment commander.

Upon his return, Jones hoped to land a job at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, family members said.

“Our son was a man of high caliber and high integrity, “said his mother, Diane Jones. “We were very blessed to have him as long as we did.”

Jones came from a family with an extensive military background, including both grandfathers.

“He knew when he was 7-years-old he wanted to be a policeman and in the Army,” his mother said. “He will be missed.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How sad, prayers to the family and friends