The 3rd Infantry Division bid farewell Wednesday to one of its senior officers in a retreat ceremony in Fort Stewart’s Marne Garden. Brig. Gen. Pete Jones, former 3rd ID deputy commanding general-support, is leaving the Marne Division for a new role as director of future plans for the International Security Assistance Force.
Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, 3rd ID and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield commander, said Jones strategically was located at Hunter when he arrived in August 2013. Jones was promoted to brigadier general only a few weeks after his arrival. It was not his first time serving with the 3rd ID. Jones previously served as commander of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID at Fort Benning.
It also wasn’t the first time he’d served with Murray, who told soldiers and guests at Wednesday’s ceremony that Jones was his battalion executive officer when he was a battalion commander. If fact, Murray said his oldest daughter used to baby sit Jones’ oldest son, Lincoln, who’s now 15.
“It’s always sad to say goodbye, especially to somebody of Pete Jones’ caliber,” said Murray, who called Jones the “right man at the right time.” “Pete did all the non-fun stuff he was asked to do. If there’s any one thing I wish I could have spent more time working on with him, it would have been helping him develop his golf game.”
Murray and his wife, Jane, presented a special award to the brigadier general’s wife, Stephanie Jones, and then Murray awarded Jones a Legion of Merit Medal. Jones already has a Legion of Merit with two oak-leaf clusters. He also has a Bronze Star Medal with V device and a Bronze Star Medal with two oak-leaf clusters. The airborne Ranger, Pathfinder-qualified Jones is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Murray thanked Stephanie Jones for her support, noting that she and her sons will remain in Savannah until her husband returns from Afghanistan. He reminder her to call him if she needs anything from the Marne Division.
In his own remarks, Jones also thanked his wife, saying that without the backing of families, soldiers could not do the job they have to do.
“When the nation asks you to do something, you do it,” Jones said, noting he has deployed to Iraq three times, but this is his first deployment to Afghanistan. “But whenever people tells me, ‘Thank you for your service,’ I tell them, ‘Thank my wife, for without her, I couldn’t have done it.’”
Jones described leaving Stewart-Hunter as a bittersweet experience, saying he worked with a great team and great people. He called the 3rd ID an organization made up of true professionals.
“To me, this is one of the best posts in the Army,” he said, adding that he envies his family for being able to stay another year and see “one more St. Patrick’s Day.” “It has been a privilege to have been a part of this great unit. ... Thank you for making this day special for my family and myself.”
Before concluding his comments, Murray asked all present to remember the division’s 468 fallen heroes memorialized at Warriors Walk and pray for the nearly 300 Marne Division soldiers still deployed.
After the officials’ remarks, soldiers and guests stood at attention as a poem, “My name is Old Glory,” was read, and then the 3rd ID Band played Retreat. Serving as the reviewing officer while everyone sang the Dog Face Soldier and Army songs, Jones faced Col. John Thompson, 3rd ID chief of staff, and the division colors. Jones’ youngest son, Thayer, suddenly left his mother’s side in the covered bleachers so he could stand next to his father.