One military family made Talladega and Elmore counties their rallying point for Christmas. Father Chief Warrant Officer 4 Patrick Jones, mother Maj. Leangela Jones and son Pfc. Patrick Williams – all members of the U.S. Army – arrived Saturday for a six-day trip to visit relatives on both sides of the family.
The vacation reunited the family weeks before Williams’ first deployment. Williams, currently stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas, serves as an Apache helicopter mechanic.
“Both my parents were prior enlisted,” Williams said. “I knew it was something I always wanted to do.”
Though it may be his first time downrange, Williams receives the benefit of picking the brains of his parents who have logged multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba during their combined 37 years of service.
“I called to let them know when I first found out about my deployment,” Williams said. “We talk about it and they give me tips. But right now, we try to leave that alone and just enjoy our downtime.”
Williams said the chance to visit with his family prior to the deployment was very important.
“We have a little get-together every year,” Williams said. “I haven’t been home for nine months, so it’s a very big deal.”
The patriarch of the “Army Strong” trio, a graduate of Talladega High School in 1990 who currently works as a special agent for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Headquarters in Quantico, Va., noted he didn’t see his son’s impending deployment as a surprise.
“I understand the challenges of a deployment,” he said. “As a (military) family, we expected him to deploy. We’ll make sure he gets care packages (during his deployment) because it’s important for his morale.”
Leangela Jones, an assistant production manager for soldier protective equipment at Ft. Belvoir, Va., seemed very grateful to squeeze in the time to visit with one another, close the distance between the families and continue to prepare their son for the nine-month road ahead.
“We’re stationed in different locations more than 1,000 miles apart,” she said. “People tend to forget what family and Christmas is about. It’s good for us to come home to see our families, and Christmas is a great time to do it. We’re going to enjoy our holiday, and we’ve still got time before he leaves to have that talk.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org