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Fledgling Writer Credits Marines For Maturity Lesson

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2004 – Jamale J. Jones, a fledgling author of poems, fiction and non-fiction writing, credits the Marine Corps for whipping his bloated ego into shape.

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Marine Corps Cpl. Jamale J. Jones poses next to his service's eagle, globe and anchor emblem July 9 at the Pentagon. One of the managers of the Pentagon tour guide program, Jones credits the Marines with helping him correct an earlier attitude problem. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Now a manager of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard military tour guides at the Pentagon, the 23-year-old Marine corporal said he's always admired the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Gaining fame in 1845 for his poem, "The Raven," Poe, who had once attended West Point, wrote remarkably descriptive verse that painted vivid images in the reader's mind.

Before joining the Marine Corps at age 17, Jones noted he'd carried a heavy literary chip on his shoulder. He'd dismiss others' efforts, he explained, while simultaneously insisting to teachers that his work surpassed the master's.

"I had an ego back then," Jones recalled, adding, "I used to always say I was a better writer than anyone -- even Edgar Allan Poe."

Although his work has not yet been published, Jones noted some has appeared in local newspapers in his hometown of Cincinnati. As he neared graduation from high school, Jones said he turned to the military to broaden his horizons. The Marines, he noted, seemed to be a perfect fit.

"I had an attitude problem in high school," Jones acknowledged. The Marines' famous image and discipline provided the impetus he needed to change.

After his hard-earned graduation from Marine boot camp, Jones noted, "You actually feel like you're a part of something, and it makes you want to become something, and it makes you want to change." Jones also noted he has traveled during his time in the Marines, pointing to a previous stint in Okinawa, Japan.

A self-described people watcher, Jones said he enjoys interacting with the public and coworkers as part of his work at the Pentagon.

"I've met a lot of interesting people," he said, noting the sharply dressed, knowledgeable Pentagon tour guides are ambassadors to the public who can help dispel misconceptions about the military.

And, Jones noted, tour participants most often leave the Pentagon with a more positive impression of the Marine Corps and the other armed services.

Whether traveling in uniform in the Pentagon area or out near the home in Annapolis, Md., that he shares with his wife, Jaime Marie, Jones said he enjoys being hailed by strangers for his military service.

Veterans "will come up to me out of nowhere, shake my hand, and say, 'Thank you for serving our country,'" he said.

It's "things like that," Jones remarked, that makes him consider making the military a career.

Tours of the Pentagon are available to school groups, educational organizations and other select groups by reservation only. Groups interested in touring the Pentagon should contact the Pentagon Tour Office at (703) 697-1776.

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