FORT BRAGG — She may be Army strong, but Tina Jones-Faison was moved to tears as she thanked the standing-room-only crowd during her promotion ceremony at Fort Bragg on Wednesday.
The Laurinburg native was promoted from lieutenant colonel to colonel in the United States Army.
She shared the special day with her father, Thomas L. Jones, who was posthumously awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday. Jones, was one of the first black men to wear a U.S. Marine uniform.
Jones-Faison was unable to fight back tears as she spoke to a crowd that included five generations of family members who also served in the military.
“My mom, I love and I thank you for your love and your prayers and your sacrifices. I know the rhythm of your heartbeat. It is because of you and my Daddy that I have learned to endure and persevere,” she said. “I am truly overwhelmed. If I forgot anyone, my heart is in the right place. There’s just so many people here.”
Joyce Hall, a cousin from Laurinburg, said the promotion was well deserved.
“I think it’s great,” Hall said. “Her mother and I are first cousins and her father and my mother were brother and sister and just to see her come this far is great. She’s a good person.”
Jones-Faison graduated from Scotland High School in 1977. She received a Bachelor of Science from Bennett College in 1981 and graduated from Meharry Medical University School of Dentistry in Nashville in 1986 with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. She deployed to Afghanistan in November of 2010 and again in 2011.
Jones-Faison is Officer in Charge of Laflamme Dental Clinic that serves more than 12,576 soldiers of the 82nd Airbone Division and supporting units at Fort Bragg.
Presenting the Congressional Gold Medal was Chief Warrant Officer James Everhart of the United States Marine Corps.
He described Jones’ story as one of perseverance, honor and commitment. Jones first reported to Montford Point, a small section of land on Camp Lejeune in August 1942. He was one of approximately 20,000 black recruits known as Montford Point Marines.
Jones trained in a segregated boot camp more than 300 miles from his white counterparts who were training at Parris Island, S.C.
“These men had to fight for the right to fight,” said Everhart.
Jones, who had deep roots in the community, later taught school and owned a funeral home in Laurinburg. At the time of his death in 2011, the 92-year-old was one of the oldest black former Marines in the country.
“Everybody knows about the Tuskegee Airmen, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Golden 13, the Triple Nickle but now the time has come for the world to know about the Montford Point Marines as well. One of those among them was a young man from this very community,” he said.
Jones was born and raised in Laurinburg and was educated at the only private high school — Laurinburg Institute. After joining the Marine Corps, he was also one of the first black men to hold a pilot’s license. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. He was honorably discharged from the military.
Everhart joked that he was glad some fellow Marines were present because no one would believe that he was bragging about anyone wearing an Army uniform.
“We fight for the same purpose and the same goal and I am truly honored to have witnessed what it is that I saw here today,” he said.
Reach Maria D. Grandy at 910-506-3171.