Jacksonville Coast Guardsman, 9/11 first responder retires after 30-year military career

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – A Coast Guardsman most recently assigned to Afloat Training Group at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., ended his 30-year Coast Guard career surrounded by 100 friends, family members and peers during his retirement ceremony at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday morning.

Michael James Jones, 47, enlisted in the Coast Guard May 11, 1983, with his mother’s permission at the age of 17 and worked his way up the ranks as a machinery technician until he became a master chief petty officer, the highest enlisted rank.

Jones had many remarkable accomplishments throughout his career, but among the most notable are his involvement in the Coast Guard’s initial response after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and his participation in the capture of Iraqi prisoners of war in the Northern Persian Gulf.

Jones was the engineering petty officer aboard the Sandy Hook, N.J.,-based Coast Guard Cutter Adak during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Though the Adak’s steering system was completely disassembled for repairs when the crew learned of the attacks, Jones led his engineering team to effect temporary repairs that would enable them to steer by hand and get underway immediately. Consequently, the Adak was underway within two hours and was the first Coast Guard cutter to arrive in New York Harbor, where for 12 hours the crew acted as command and control and on scene commander for all Coast Guard units underway in New York and kept everyone out of the harbor except for the vessels directly providing rescue and assistance.

In 2003, Jones deployed with the Adak to the Northern Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was among the crew that captured the first maritime prisoners of war taken by the U.S. Coast Guard. The 24-member crew of the Adak plucked the three Iraqi sailors from the sea March 21, 2003, after they jumped overboard when their patrol boat was destroyed by coalition forces operating in the Gulf.

During the span of his 30-year career, Jones was assigned to 14 different units where he repaired countless small boats and cutters, assisted with the automation of numerous lighthouses along the New Jersey and New York coastlines, counseled hundreds of Coast Guardsmen, mentored multiple prospective chief petty officers, helped to train the Coast Guard cutter fleet, assisted with the shift of a cutter’s homeport and was involved in hundreds of Coast Guard missions and operations.

His duty stations include: Training Center Cape May, N.J.; Support Center Governor’s Island, N.Y.; Training Center Yorktown, Va.; Coast Guard Cutter Cape Hatteras in Petersburg, Ala.; Station Sandy Hook, N.J.; Station Beach Haven, N.J.; Coast Guard Cutter Dallas in Governor’s Island, N.Y., and Charleston, S.C.; Station Manasquan Inlet, N.J.; Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless in Galveston, Texas; Coast Guard Cutter Adak in Sandy Hook, N.J., and Bahrain; Station Barnegat Light, N.J.; Group Atlantic City, N.J.; Maintenance Logistics Command in Oakland, Calif.; and Afloat Training Group at Naval Station Mayport.

Jones’ has been awarded three Coast Guard Commendation Medals; a 911 Medal; three Coast Guard Achievement Medals; three Commandant’s Letters of Commendation; a Combat Action Ribbon; a Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with a hurricane device; a Joint Meritorious Unit Award; two Secretary’s Outstanding Unit Awards; two Coast Guard Unit Commendations; a Navy Unit Commendation; three Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations; two Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendations; two Coast Guard “E” Ribbons; a Coast Guard Bicentennial Ribbon; nine Coast Guard Good Conduct Medals; two National Defense Service awards; an Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal; an Iraqi Campaign Medal; a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; an Armed Forces Service Medal; two Humanitarian Service Medals; a Special Operations Service Ribbon; four Coast Guard Sea Service Ribbons; a Coast Guard Rifleman Ribbon; a Coast Guard Pistol Ribbon with a sharpshooter device; a Cutterman’s Insignia; a Boat Forces Insignia and Command Chief and Senior Chief Insignias.

Jones said his retirement plans include hunting, fishing and opening a tree farm in Texas.

He will remain in Jacksonville at the home he shares with his wife, Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Heidi Eystad.

During his retirement ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Friday, May 24, 2013, Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones thanks his peers for the time he spent working with them during the previous 30 years. Jones was among the first Coast Guard responders in New York Harbor during the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, and was a member of the first team of Coast Guardsmen to capture maritime prisoners of war during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

During his retirement ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Friday, May 24, 2013, Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones thanks his peers for the time he spent working with them during the previous 30 years. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones (left) laughs during his retirement ceremony Friday, May 24, 2013, at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., as a peer tells stories about his time working with Jones. Jones joined the Coast Guard May 11, 1983, at the age of 17 with his mother's permission and worked his way up the ranks as a machinery technician. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones (left) laughs during his retirement ceremony Friday, May 24, 2013, at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., as a peer tells stories about his time working with Jones. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

Family members, friends and peers of Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones laugh as they listen to stories from his 30-year Coast Guard career during his retirement ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., May 24, 2013. Jones had many remarkable accomplishments throughout his career, but among the most notable are his involvement in the Coast Guard's initial response after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his participation in the capture of Iraqi prisoners of war in the Northern Persian Gulf. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

Family members, friends and peers of Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Jones laugh as they listen to stories from his 30-year Coast Guard career during his retirement ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., May 24, 2013.(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen)

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