Community Heroes: Tri-Cities couple both serving in the military while nearly 2,000 miles apart

Community Heroes

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A couple from the Tri-Cities region are being recognized as hometown heroes as they both are currently serving in our nation’s military.

This year, the two will spend Valentine’s Day apart.

Zachary and Taylor Jones are this week’s community heroes.

Joining the Air Force takes time, courage and skills. Requirements and evaluations must be passed to ensure your success as an airman or airwoman.

SrA. Taylor Jones enlisted in the United States Air Force in February 2018.

Senior airwoman Taylor Jones and her husband, E-1 airman Zachary Jones, both felt led to serve their country their entire lives.

SrA. Taylor Jones told Pheben Kassahun in a Zoom interview, “Definitely work hard. It takes a lot of work to get to where you want to be.”

“To me, it’s something that I have always wanted to do. Serving people has always been important to me,” she said. “I enlisted in February of 2018. My first day of active duty was in July of the same year.”

“My great-grandfather was 11 Bravo, which was infantry, and my uncle was 101st Airborne,” airman Zachary Jones added.

Zachary served as a volunteer firefighter for three years in Wise County before eventually joining the United States Air Force.

Zachary Jones, an E-1 airman, enlisted in the United States Air Force in August 2020.

“I enlisted August 27th, 2020. I graduated basic the 17th of December of 2020,” he said.

Serving in the Air Force comes with plenty of challenges.

Zachary said one of the biggest challenges is being separated from the person you love.

“My short-term goal is just to get out of here and get home to my family,” he said.

The two met in the Tri-Cities and have been married for two years.

Taylor is from Hawkins County and Zachary is from Wise County, Virginia, but are now 1,800 miles apart.

Taylor is based on Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada while Zachary is based on Keesler Air Force Base in Harrison County, Mississippi.

One thing Taylor said for people to keep in mind when joining any military branch is to not take people for granted because being away from family is tougher than it seems.

“I’m here all alone with my daughter. My husband is almost 2,000 miles away… Sorry,” she added as she tried to fight back tears. “Be thankful for who you have surrounding you.”

However, this story isn’t all doom and gloom because this Valentine’s Day, the two plan to utilize things like Facetime and Zoom.

“Definitely special to us, yes,” Zachary said. “I mean, we’ve already exchanged our Valentine’s Day gift.”

Taylor said, “It definitely hasn’t been easy. It was a struggle at first, but we found our routine so we just stick with it and go day-by-day.”

“With God, anything is possible,” Zachary added.

Taylor said, “You have to be willing to be putting that much effort and that much work every single day because even when you take your uniform off, it is a 24-hour job. I would just say to remember that.”

Zachary Jones was actually back home just a few days before our Zoom interview for his father’s funeral.

For about a week, the family did not know who had anonymously nominated the couple as community heroes.

On the day of our interview, the couple learned the person who nominated them was in fact Zachary’s dad.

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