Lake Wales Military Service Member Promoted to Sergeant Major
by James Coulter
Ever since he was in elementary school, Jonathan Clark Haynsworth wanted to become a soldier. He loved G.I. Joe. He admired his grandfather’s military uniform at his grandmother’s house. He even made a unique arts and crafts project honoring the military.
His desire to serve his country at a very young age inspired him to enlist 20 years. Now, 20 years later, this Lake Wales husband, father, and proud solider has ascended the ranks, recently being promoted to sergeant major.
On Friday, Haynsworth was promoted to sergeant major after graduating from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy in Class 71. He will now be stationed at Duty Station Fort Riley in Kansas, where he will serve in the 1st Infantry Division.
While he is proud of his accomplishment, Haynsworth remains humble. He enrolled in the army to serve his country, and he owes his success to the many soldiers whom he served alongside. He is especially indebted to those who are no longer with him, as they have made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country.
“I would not be here without the soldiers I served alongside and those who served with me, because without those soldiers, I wouldn’t be here where I am,” Haynsworth said. “The biggest challenge is losing friends that you served with while being deployed…You never forget those people. You never forget those soldiers…and you want to keep on driving on, and thinking about them, and trying to continue to make them proud, even though they are not here.”
Haynsworth has been a lifelong Lake Wales resident. His family has had a long, illustrious history in the city. His grandfather, James Edward Haynsworth, Sr., once served as the mayor, as did his grandfather’s brother.
His grandfather was the main inspiration for his military career. He remembers fondly seeing his grandfather’s military uniform displayed in his grandmother’s house. That memory, along with his love of G.I. Joe and overall love of his country, motivated him to serve in the military.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army his junior year of high school in 2000. One year later, on June 14, 2001, he officially entered service when he was sent to training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He initially enlisted for six years, but he has since served 20 years.
During his 20 years of service, Haynsworth has had two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has served in every leadership position for an infantryman, from team leader to the first sergeant, now being promoted to his current position as a sergeant major.
He has been stationed in Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Wiley in Kansas, Fort Benning in Georgia, and Fort Carson in Colorado. He has attended Airborne and Pathfinder School. He attended drill sergeant school and served as a drill sergeant for two years. He has also received an expert
infantry badge, combat infantry badge, three bronze star medals, four merit service medals, three accommodation medals, and six army achievement medals.
His “coolest” accomplishments are serving as a first sergeant and being part of a command team. Other culminating events in his career were being accompanied as the senior enlisted advisor to the commander in Afghanistan, and being selected to serve as an assistant inspector general.
Aside from being promoted to sergeant major, Haynsworth also graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business management. “It took me 20 years and a lot of times being deployed,” he said. “Sticking with it and finally finishing my bachelor’s degree this week was a cool accomplishment.”
Haynsworth has been married to his wife, Katie, since 2010. Together, they had three daughters: Juliana, 10, Jordan, 6, and Josie, 5. So aside from being a proud American, he also considers himself a proud husband and father, and he hopes his service remains an inspiration to his family.
“It comes down to my kids being a role model for my three daughters,” he said. “[It’s about] trying to be a good role model. I have sacrificed a lot trying to be a good role model for them.”
In 2019, he was asked to serves as the first sergeant with a group of soldiers to represent the 4th Infantry Division at the 75th D-Day celebration in France. Traveling and serving abroad, he has seen how many people look up to his country, motivating him to continue his duty.
Overall, he owes his success within the past 20 years of service to the many brave men and women he served alongside. He takes his position with great honor, serving as a leader to others just as others served as a great leader for him.
“I try to be a leader and help out every soldier I have been around, being hard by fair, but always having to make an impact,” he said. “I am proud to be an American. I love serving my country. And I try to be a good role model for my kids and help out every soldier who is below or around me, try to be better than I was, and trying to achieve those things that I had.”