BROWNWOOD – July 12, 2016 – Colonel Stephen Jones, 1979 Howard Payne University alumnus, has returned to the HPU campus each summer for the past seven years, bringing dozens of high school students with him. Col. Jones, who serves as senior aerospace science instructor and head of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps department at Wylie High School, is among the many participants of the JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp held for the past 19 years on the HPU campus.
Nearly 500 cadets and staff attended the camp this summer, the purpose of which is to train cadets and give them the tools needed to become top leaders.
“It is a thrill to be back on campus,” Col. Jones said. “I love coming back year after year. Our JROTC instructors could not praise Howard Payne enough. The support we get from the staff is second to none.”
Col. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible from HPU, one of seven family members to graduate from the university. He was active on campus, involved in activities such as student government and intramural sports. Additionally, he served as student body president his senior year. Upon graduation, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life but knew his main desire was to serve others.
“So I thought I would serve my country for one enlistment and then get out of the military and pursue something else,” he said. “A few years turned into 30 years of military service.”
He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2009 with 22 years of active duty and eight years in the reserves.
During his time in the reserves, he earned a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served in three churches in DeSoto and Austin, primarily in the role of minister of education/administration. He also has a Master of Science degree in organizational management from the University of Southern California.
His final assignment on active duty was as the director of operations at the Air Force JROTC headquarters, the largest aerospace science education program in the world with more than 107,000 students. Upon retirement, Col. Jones began teaching JROTC at Wylie High School. He noted that all JROTC instructors are military retirees.
Col. Jones enjoys the opportunity to bring students back to the campus he loves.
“HPU was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “I met many wonderful people at Howard Payne who have become lifelong friends. I would be thrilled if one of my cadets attended HPU as a student.”
Cutline: Col. Stephen Jones, HPU alumnus, returns to campus each summer for the JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp.