CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
Command Sgt. Maj. Dusty Jones and his brother, Chief Master Sgt. Eric Jones, have both reached the pinnacle of enlisted ranks; both serve as E-9s in the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard.
The elder brother, Dusty, is the State Command Sgt. Maj. for the West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG). The younger brother, Eric, is a chief master sergeant with the 130th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard (WVANG).
Dusty Jones was busy filling out college scholarship applications his senior year of high school when an unplanned phone call rang his home. It was the local Army recruiter who asked to speak with him about service. Less than a week later, Dusty found himself at the Military Entrance and Processing Station in Beckley, West Virginia, raising his right hand, even though he had never contemplated joining the ranks of the U.S. Army.
After an active duty tour in Germany and a forward-deployed assignment in Bosnia, he got word that his younger brother, Eric, had joined the military as well.
And just like that both of the Jones’ boys were in uniform.
Fast forward some twenty-plus years, and Eric, who joined the WVANG out of high school, now stands proudly among the echelon of enlisted leadership for the state with his brother Dusty, who transitioned to the WVARNG after his active duty tour.
Growing up in a small, rural Appalachian community in Summers County, West Virginia, Dusty and Eric were raised in the shadow of a man of remarkable work ethic and discipline. And they both credit him and the lessons he taught to enable each brother to earn the highest of enlisted ranks within the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG).
“Eric and I are successful because we just followed the words and the actions of our father,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jones. “Dad lead us by example. He was the hardest working man I have ever known, and to this day he still works, breaking his back. He’s tougher than hell!”
Through their dad’s example, the brothers grew up learning that hard work, dedication, and service to family and to others in the community were cornerstones of a successful life.
“I can remember one time period in my life when my dad worked for five months straight,” said the elder brother. “He never took a day off in five months and a lot of those days he would work a job for eight hours, come home to grab something to eat, and then go directly to another job and work it for two to three hours. Tireless dedication.”
And that dedication extended beyond his home to the community as well.
“I’ve seen him go out on Christmas to fix someone’s water heater. The man is an idol in our hometown,” said Dusty. “If the phone rang, he felt like he had an obligation to the community to provide his support. He is just a guy that will do anything for you.”
According to the brothers, they remember working on houses during the summer when they were fourteen or fifteen years old, getting paid three dollars an hour. The money wasn’t what was important. They understood he was teaching them the value of hard work.
Those lessons learned from their father continue to inspire them and mold their leadership styles today.
“We each take the lessons our Dad has taught us over the years and incorporate them into our own leadership styles,” stated Eric.
“Leadership comes from being on the front lines,” said Dusty. “You just can’t tell somebody to go work hard and then go and sit in your office and drink coffee. You have to be there as well, shoulder to shoulder when possible, and demonstrate the work ethic and dedication yourself that you expect from them.”
“In the National Guard, it doesn’t matter where you grew up or what your family history is,” he said. “We all start out on an equal playing field as Soldiers and Airmen, and then we personally decide our own fate through our work ethic. Each Soldier and Airman drives their own careers by the amount of effort they put into them. Dad taught us to work hard, and to strive for achievement, and those are lessons we both try to pass along to the Soldiers and Airmen in our care.”
As the Jones brothers reflect upon their careers, they attribute their eventual rise in the ranks back to their fathers’ lessons. And both of the brothers are proud of the other.
“It meant a lot to me to see Dusty gain the rank that he truly earned,” stated Eric. “I am prouder of him than I am of myself. He has always been an outstanding Soldier. Seeing us both progress to this level also gives me a sense of pride that two brothers from the middle of nowhere could accomplish so much.”
“Because of the lessons he taught us growing up, and now that we have both risen to leadership positions within our respective services, his lessons have been shared through us with thousands of Soldiers and Airmen,” continued Dusty. “I marvel at the impact on the state and the nation he has had just because he raised two kids to do the right things. Just because he took the time to raise us right.”
“His hard work and his sacrifices has produced two E-9s,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jones. “That is a testament to the man and the impact of his life on ours.”
Today, the Jones brothers both lead Soldiers and Airmen with the same determination, spirit, dedication, and sense of service their father instilled in them all those years ago. And the WVNG is all the better for it.
A testament to two brothers from what some would call “nowhere.”