GARY, Ind. – Two 38th Infantry Division Citizen-Soldiers, sisters from Gary, Indiana, wake up most mornings to face 110-plus degree heat in the Kuwaiti desert ready to serve in support of Task Force Spartan.
Staff Sgt. Justine Jones works in logistics distributing food and other items throughout different sites in the Middle East.
The other sister, Sgt. Jenna Jones, processes flight requests for the thousands of troops serving in Southwest Asia.
Justine, from the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, volunteered to join the 38th Infantry Division's mobilization.
Jenna was assigned to the 38th Infantry Division just before the Cyclone Soldiers mobilized.
While these two sisters joined their first deployment from different directions, their paths have run parallel through life.
Jeri Cooper, another Jones sister, did not come on this deployment but she does serve in the Indiana Army National Guard.
Their father, Dean, served in the United States Air Force and all three of his daughters joined the military. Jeri joined first and Justine followed. Each sister is a year apart in age.
"My family said I couldn't do it," said Jenna.
The Jones family takes care of each other and have a close bond.
"Growing up was a fairy tale. We didn't fight much. I always feel lucky," said Justine.
They have moved around a lot including South Carolina, Germany, Indiana and Tennessee.
The family moved to Tennessee to take care of their paternal grandmother and then back to Indiana when their maternal grandmother got sick.
"Rank stays at the door," said Jenna, when asked about how leadership comes into the family dynamic.
"It seems like one of us always knows something. We have aviation, dental, and me, in the cooking world. Somebody knows one of us from somewhere. I have answered the phone before at Stout Field and said 'food service' and they are like, 'is this the Jones in aviation?'" said Justine.
There are still challenges when deployed with a sibling. For example, Justine lives in open bay barracks and Jenna lives about a 20-minute shuttle ride away.
Justine works first shift, but Jenna works second shift. Jenna has to be on call because her job is a priority, but with her working the later shift and living farther away, the sisters only have about two hours per day to see one another.
They said having family on a deployment makes it easier. Justine and Jenna have someone to confide in and to vent to that helps them get clear on communication and attitude.
The difference between the Jones sisters becomes evident when it comes to communicating back home.
Justine calls their parents frequently and asks Jenna if she has called home, but if she hasn't, Justine brings her sister up to date.
"It really ticks me off," said Jenna.
"I'm there for you," said Justine.
"This is where we're completely different. She calls home all the time. All the time. All the time," Jenna reiterated. "I have nothing to say, nothing has changed. My status has not changed."
Justine breaks in, "I am more family oriented. I live right next door to my parents. They are not worried about Jenna being OK while she is gone nine months. Where I am used to being close by."
The Jones sisters make this mobilization a little better with their leadership, professionalism and positive attitudes while placing the mission first.
Cyclone sister strong!