As we prepare for the peaceful transition of presidential power to reflect the will of the voters, it is appropriate to reflect for a moment on the men and women of the armed forces – from the first shots of the American Revolution to this very hour – who have fought and died to protect our democratic way of life.
The United States has about 1.3 million active-duty personnel serving around the world in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines Corps, Coast Guard and Space Force – a buffer against those who would seek to dominate and do us harm. Today, we recognize two with New Mexico ties – one of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
Air Force Capt. Durwood “Rocky” Jones was an Albuquerque native who died when his F-16 crashed during a training exercise over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week. Jones, who flew under the call name “Hawk,” was a decorated combat veteran who was serving in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. He had done tours in South Korea, Poland, Afghanistan and Japan.
The son of Lee and Kathy Jones of Albuquerque, “Hawk” graduated from Albuquerque Academy and went on to Northwestern University before joining the Air National Guard in 2011. He had been awarded two Air Medals with combat “C” devices, which are given to those who have been personally exposed to or were under significant risk of hostile action.
He leaves behind a wife and two sons, the youngest just 2 months old.
“He is on to his next calling,” Lee Jones told KOAT-TV. “And I mean that sincerely.”
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, a special tactics combat controller for the 26th Special Tactics Squadron stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis since 2015, earlier this month was awarded the Air Force Cross, the second-highest honor given by the Department of Defense, for his actions during a mission in Afghanistan in April 2017.
While part of an operation to seize key terrain in Nangarhar province, Germanovich repeatedly exposed himself to sniper and machine gun fire while directing air strikes by an AC-130 gunship.
The Air Force says Germanovich directed his team, which had expended all its rifle ammunition and grenades before resorting to pistols, to a withdrawal, and coordinated medical evacuation helicopters. He carried a wounded team member 2,300 feet up a mountain to a helicopter landing zone while directing close air support.
“During eight hours of intense enemy attack and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Airman Germanovich’s actions directly resulted in the protection of over 150 friendly forces and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions,” his citation says.
He is only the 12th special tactics Airman to receive the Air Force Cross since 9/11. He has also been decorated with a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, an Air Force Combat Action Medal, an Air Force Commendation Medal and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
“Hawk” Jones hails from New Mexico while Germanovich is from South Carolina. As it is for so many other Airmen, New Mexico, with its three Air Force bases, has at least for a time been “home.”
But beyond that, the two share a common bond with their brothers and sisters of America’s armed forces who have answered the call of duty. We thank them today and every day for their service.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.