Though she has lived in California for more than 25 years and is currently stationed in Kuwait, newly minted Army Brig. Gen. Kaffia Jones has not forgotten where she came from.
Jones, a Beaufort native and the commander of the Army's 335th Signal Command at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, was promoted to one-star general during a ceremony last month in Atlanta. Only about 5 percent of the Army's general officers are women, according to the Defense Department.
Jones was born in the Dale area and completed her first year of high school at Beaufort High School before moving to New Jersey and then on to California, where she enlisted in the California National Guard in 1976.
She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980 upon graduating college, according to Army officials.
Jones said she never would have imagined ascending the ranks to become a general when she first joined the military.
"I don't think I had the wherewithal to think that that was possible," Jones said by phone from Kuwait. "I didn't really know enough about the military or the officer corps. I didn't start thinking about promotions until I reached the rank of lieutenant colonel ... then it dawned on me that I was progressing in such a way that might allow me to become a general officer."
In Kuwait, Jones oversees a command of active-duty and reserve soldiers who manage voice, data, e-mail and other information and communication systems for soldiers and coalition forces throughout southwest Asia, according to the Army. Jones is currently serving a yearlong deployment in Kuwait.
Though she has not lived in the Beaufort area for more than 25 years, Jones maintains close ties to the Lowcountry.
Much of her family, including her mother, still lives in the Beaufort area. She is a member of the Second Celestial Baptist Church in Seabrook and owns a company that develops affordable rental properties locally.
Jones credits much of her success to her family and the place she still calls home.
"My promotion and my success have never been about me," Jones said. "It's about my family, my friends who have supported me and about our soldiers. I came from a powerful community of people who care. No matter where I go or where my travels take me ... whenever I think about home, it's always Beaufort County. I'll consider it home forever."
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.