Harold Jones still answers when someone calls “medic.”

Serving as an Army medic from 1970-71 during the Vietnam War, Jones heard that cry often as he rushed to the aid of wounded comrades.

“That was one of the very moving times of my life,” said Jones, 76. “As a young guy in my mid-20s, you can read about the war, the television would say things about it, but to actually see it, to be involved in it, to stick your hand in somebody’s belly who is pumping all kinds of blood out—is that a kidney, what is that?—and blood is spurting all over you … it gets your attention ASAP. Those experiences were something I hated, but I wouldn’t trade them for nothing.”

Jones was drafted into the Army in November 1968.

“I got this letter in the mail one day … that was my invitation to the military,” Jones added. “It was one of those invitations where you couldn’t say, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’”

Jones wasn’t happy about being drafted.

“I was planning on being a physician,” he said. “Looking back, I’m glad it happened, but at the moment, I didn’t want to go. I had a new wife, we moved into an apartment, I had a new job and was pursuing my academic career. I also had a relatively new car. So I was working on life.”

However, Jones said he believes God’s sovereignty was contained in that letter he received in 1968.

“I’ve seen things that the average person would normally not see,” Jones said. “I could have been dead or anywhere. God was there all the time, but I just didn’t know it or understand it at the time. He directed my whole life, and I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful. All of the places I went and the things I did.”

During basic training in El Paso, Texas, one of Jones’ drill instructors told his group they were all going to die.

“He was really mean and ugly to us, and he says, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to send you somewhere where you’re going to get killed off’ because Vietnam was hot then. He said, ‘Don’t take too much with you because they’re going to kill you off right when you get off of the ship,’” Jones added. “That may have given me a little bit of an incentive to stay alive.”

Jones had a couple of options for military specialties, but he decided he wanted to be a medic. He became a licensed professional nurse while stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“A lot of people still call me that today, ‘Where’s the medic?’” he said. “In those days, they didn’t distinguish between doctors, nurses or corpsmen—whatever happens—if you’re the medic, you’re the one taking care of it … back in the day, that was a catchall for everything.”

Jones retired from the Army in 1993 and used his nursing experience to work in the medical field. He has been a Southeast Christian Church member since 2001.

‘I lost my way’

Jones grew up in Galveston, Texas, in a loving family with six siblings.

“My mom used to say, ‘I was knee-high to a grasshopper.’ I could never understand that,” Jones said.

They went to Sunday school and church every week, and he saw his parents live out their faith.

“When I was young, I took (faith) seriously, but it didn’t have the kind of meaning that it has when you’re an adult and you process it very thoroughly,” Jones added. “You just want to have fun. My mom made us go to church most Sundays.”

During his time in the military and really until the early 1990s, Jones said God wasn’t a priority in his life.

“I had lost my way,” Jones said. “My mom would want to spank my butt to even hear me say that, but God did all this even though I was bad …. I was just kind of out for me and for money. But God showed me that’s what you don’t need to be after. It’s hard for a young person to see that and understand that in America. God directed my entire life, and I avoided the traps. He truly is great.”

In 2000, Jones and his family moved to Louisville to live near his mother-in-law.

They started attending Southeast after a friend invited them to church. Jones got involved in the Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study.

Volunteering in the Outlook

In 2019, Jones’ wife of 30 years, Sandra, died unexpectedly.

Though Jones had seen death and the horrors of war firsthand, his wife’s death took a major toll on him.

“It was most monumental,” Jones said. “My wife was like a part of me. I try to explain it to some people that it’s sort of like losing a leg. It’s something that you’ve had there, and all the sudden it’s gone, so you miss it in a different way.”

Shortly thereafter, Jones wanted to find a place to serve at Southeast.

“I was looking for a little bit of an activity to do, and I didn’t want to actually go back to work,” Jones added. “Once I got to meet some of the people at The Southeast Outlook and got involved, it was really a slam-dunk. It was really easy. What a wonderful staff and volunteer group they have there. I felt like I was getting something accomplished and spreading the word.”

Jones’ newspaper route is a good chunk of Shelbyville Road, but he often helps with additional routes when needed.