LCDR (Ret.) J. Darnell Jones enlisted in the United States Army at age 17 following in the footsteps of his two older siblings. After basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he completed Medical Laboratory Technologist Basic and Advanced courses at Fort Sam Houston, TX. He was then assigned to Army Medical Activity at Fort Ord, CA, where he would serve out his initial tour of active duty service. He attended Monterey Peninsula College while on active duty; and transferred to the University of Memphis; where he was a member of both football and track teams. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minored in Biology. He decided to continue service to his country by pursuing a career as a naval officer via Navy Officer Candidate School (O.C.S.) in Pensacola, Florida.
After OCS, LCDR Jones completed Surface Warfare Officer School (S.W.O.S.) in Newport, Rhode Island with emphasis on Steam Engineering. He was assigned to USS Nashville (LPD-13) as the Deck/Legal/Admin Officer, where he was rated as a Top-Performer by his Commanding Officer after his first evaluation period. He served a short tour on USS Saipan (LHA-2) as the Assistant Operations Officer for Combat Systems. The ship was scheduled for a major overhaul to retrofit for female sailors, so he was reassigned to Washington, DC as a Minority Affairs Liaison officer for the Chief of Naval Personnel. He concluded his active duty service and began a career as an Account Representative for Merck & Co. Inc., where he reached Executive status.
LCDR Jones affiliated with the reserves and served in Operations, Administration, Training, and Executive Officer (XO) roles, respectively. He served as Executive Officer of Navy Computer and Telecommunications Station (N.C.T.S.) Bahrain for one year before transferring commands to Carrier Strike Group TWO (COMCARSTRGRU-2) as Current Operations Officer. He then served as the XO at US European Command Det 208, a drilling reserve unit at Dobbins ARB in Marietta, GA, supporting the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. He was dual-dutied as Asst Director of Evaluations for a joint, multinational communications exercise held yearly in Grafenwohr, Germany. While very involved in his navy reserve work and at Merck, J. Darnell completed law school at John Marshall Law School in the part-time program. He then interned in juvenile criminal defense at Dekalb, Georgia Juvenile Court, and as Assistant Government Counsel in the military appellate courts. He gained additional experience in medical malpractice while working at private firms.
LCDR Jones was recalled to active duty and worked as the Asst. Director for Navy Equal Opportunity, reviewing formal EO complaints and developing diversity policy. In November 2012, he accepted orders as the Southwestern Navy Outreach officer based in Houston, TX; where he worked with government and private agencies for the contracting and implementation of Science and Technology (STEM) programs in middle and high school curriculum. His work not only promoted navy awareness to land-locked territories, but provided STEM opportunities via robotics and other community-wide STEM efforts to under-represented minorities and under-served student groups.