Dortrie A. Jones Jr. lives in West Memphis, was born in Memphis, wounded in Baghdad, Iraq and is about to make a major move to Orlando, Fla.
Last Saturday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – during a break between the first and second quarters of the football game between the University of Memphis and SMU – Jones was acknowledged as a war hero. The recognition comes with a brand new house in Orlando.
Jones and his wife, Katrina, have three children: Jasmine Craig, 12, Christian Jones, 7, and Dante Jones, 5. He is the recipient of support from the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF), a San Antonio-base non-profit organization that helps combat wounded veterans who are transitioning out of the military.
Dave Lieske, the MWSF's director of Business Development, said each selected war hero chooses where he/she wants to live. Jones chose Orlando, with relocation expected in the next few weeks. His family's new home will be a 1-story house, with 1508 sq. ft. of living space, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a 2-car garage.
His plans for the future?
"My future plans are to keep providing for my family the best that I can and to be there always to support them however I may be able to and to continue to teach them right from wrong," Jones told his benefactors.
"Also, I have been thinking about and planning on going back to college for carpentry and or auto mechanic."
Jones got married after being injured in Iraq. He and Katrina had been friends since 2001 and started dating in 2003.
"We have had our troubled times, but I'm so very thankful they have never given up on me. Because of them I try my hardest to make life as good as I can for them and I'm still learning as the days go by."
In June 2005, Jones entered the Army after trying for some time. He had planned on a career of 20 years or more. On Dec. 9th, 2006, he had a costly encounter with a roadside bomb (IED) while on patrol in Baghdad. Here's his written description of the result:
"Right above the knee amputation, traumatic arthritis, left ankle post status fracture, tinnitus, right forearm and left foot shrapnel wounds, neuritis of the saphenous nerve left ankle/foot, PTSD, TBI."
Asked to reflect on his military time, Jones wrote this: "I did enjoy it and all the brothers I made while serving. Sure, everything seemed hard but when I look back on it, it was very enjoyable and I truly do miss it."
The military experience yielded a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The MWSF program is distinguished from other home donation programs by the fact that the foundation retains the deed of the home for three years. During that period, each recipient is given a family and financial mentor to provide guidance "to develop the skills necessary to happy and successful homeowners."
In most cases, the properties and rehab services are donated to the MWSF by a major financial institution.