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Army Pvt. 2 Devon D. Jones

Died April 4, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of San Diego; assigned to 41st Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq.

Pvt. Devon Jones wanted to be an English teacher.

As a senior at San Diego’s Lincoln High School, he had been a teaching intern at a nearby elementary school.

After graduating nine months ago, he enlisted as a means to pay for a college education.

Jones and two other soldiers out of Fort Stewart, Ga., were in a Humvee, carrying munitions and supplies to front-line forces in Baghdad, when they plunged into a ravine April 4 while swerving to avoid mortars and military fire, according to relatives briefed by the military. All three men died.

“He was just a real gentleman,” principal Wendell Bass said. “He was a young man that was quiet but at the same time was well liked by everyone.”

The road for Jones wasn’t easy.

His mother was troubled, and he moved from one group home to another. His grandmother took Jones and two brothers to live with her in Memphis for seven years, until her death, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

He and his brothers returned to San Diego and were separated until he met Evelyn Houston at New Creation Church. She took the boys in four years ago.

“I’m honored to talk about him,” Houston said. “He was a strong spirit. He was cool but compassionate, and always concerned about everyone’s well-being.”

His biological mother, Alphenia Allen, credits her son with turning her life around. “I was incarcerated, locked up, and my son was the inspiration behind the change in my life. He encouraged me behind prison walls,” she said.

Jones returned to San Diego for a visit in December, spending time with his girlfriend, Deeandra James, 17, a senior at the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

And he looked forward to the sort of life that had eluded him

“I would want to live because I haven’t enjoyed life yet,” he wrote Deeandra in a letter published by the Tribune.

— USA Today

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