My Dad pinning on Trevor’s Ranger tab.
I come from a large family of five kids and we are each other’s biggest supporters and also biggest critics. My nick names growing up were, “Fat-ica Pig-ica” or a personal favorite , “Oink-ica.” There were coined by my clever older brother Jeremy who we dubbed, “Ugly-emy ” or “Crooked lips-emy ” Oh, and let’s not forget my oldest brother Elliot—“Dumb-iot and Big Head-iot.” My sister Jennifer, the eldest and first to hit puberty had the unfortunate name of, “Big Nose-ifer.” Okay, so are we getting the idea here? Basically pick out an insulting word and tack on the suffix of the person’s name and there you go! Clever, eh? Yes, I must admit the Jones’ had a vast array of insults that could personally brand anyone for life. For the record—Jennifer has the smallest nose of all the Jones’, Elliot grew into his head, I never understood Jeremy’s crooked lips, they looked fine to me (but of course I went along!) and I like to think I grew out of my chubby phase. Now, if you do the math that’s only four kids. The last is Trevor. Trevor is the 5th child and he is 6 years younger than me (I’m the 4th) and 12 years younger than Jennifer. Trevor grew up in an entirely different family. Trevor is, well how do I put this….nice. He says things that make you feel good. Like when I graduated from college he told me I could be a really good triathlete or several months after having my twins he told me I looked great. Meanwhile, random strangers were asking me my due date. It’s like he came from an entirely different set of DNA. I could go on and on about this, and I’m sure I will in the future, but the real reason for this post is to point out one of the best things about coming from a large family: there is never a shortage of inspiration. Inspiration lately is my little brother Trevor Jones.
So why does Trevor inspire me? Okay…all 5 kids in my family went to service academies. Jennifer went to Annapolis (yes, we still love her) and the rest of us went to West Point. I graduated in 2000. Trevor went in 2002 and graduated in 2006. I think it’s incredible that after 9/11 and seeing his older siblings deploy he still wanted to go. On top of it, he was a freaking bad a$$ junior triathlete. For two years Trevor was ranked #1 for Junior (U19) Triathletes by USAT. Back then USAT didn’t have the developmental program like it does now. Even if it did, I doubt Trevor would have gone this route because he was so committed to going to West Point. While there, he was on the triathlon team but he always talked about the “Real Army” and what he needed to do to be the best officer possible. When it came time to branch, despite both my older brothers trying to talk him out of it, he chose infantry. He graduated and triathlon took a far back seat. That summer he started the Infantry Officer Basic Course and also prepared for the big test: Ranger School. Ranger School is a grueling school and probably the most difficult in the Army and one of the hardest for all military branches. It’s physically difficult, but on top of it you add a severe lack of food and sleep. Elliot and Jeremy are both Rangers and I think it was really important to Trevor to keep the tradition alive. He got married to his long time girlfriend, Becky, and a week later started Ranger School. At the time it was January and cold at Fort Benning. At the end of the first week they had a 12 mile road march. Trevor took off at a brisk pace, hoping to erase some demerits he earned earlier in the week. Midway through the march he started “bonking” but worse. Now, Trevor is a little guy. He’s about 5’9” and he “bulked” up for Ranger school to be a whopping 155. During this bonk he collapsed and really doesn’t remember much, except for being pretty much naked and another pretty much naked man on top of him in the middle of nowhere. It turns out this bonk was actually hypothermia. The naked man on top of him was the medic trying to get his core temperature to rise while waiting for the MEDEVAC to take him to the hospital. His temp was under 90 degrees and once he missed more than a few hours of Ranger School he got medically dropped from the course. Now most who have been to Ranger School, graduates and non-graduates alike, will tell you that if it’s a choice between going back to Ranger School or a deployment, they would chose the deployment. However, Trevor refused to concede that he would not get his Ranger Tab. He never gave up. He got better and tried every option to get back in the school. They really pushed for him to go on to Fort Hood, but he was on a mission. He studied, “bulked up,” and trained all over for the school. Finally he got the okay, re-entered the school, and in 2007 he earned his tab. He epitomizes putting your head down and getting to work.
In 2008 Trevor deployed with 4th ID one week after his daughter Rachel was born. He went over as a Platoon Leader in an Infantry Company. He has done countless patrols, lived in a soccer stadium, lived in a random Forward Operating Base that receives none of the civilian contractors in Iraq. He earned his Combat Infantry Badge, acted as Company Commander, and is now the Executive Officer of his company. This past week he ran a half marathon in conjunction with the Boston Marathon. This is quite a feat for him because his hamstring has been hurt since the first time getting ready for Ranger School. When there are times I don’t feel like training, or I want to throw a pity party, I think of Trevor. He’s never complained, he’s never whined. He’s got so much talent it’s unbelievable. And while he is over there missing the entire first year of his daughter’s life, I get to do this—be a Mom and a Pro Triathlete. He teaches me to not take anything for granted and to be thankful for what you have. Yes, I might not live in the most desirable location for triathletes, but you can make anything work if you want it bad enough. We’re counting down the days until he gets home. Just a few more months. And watch out, maybe he’ll catch that triathlon bug again!