POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- On the 240th birthday of the United States Marines Corps, a local member killed in duty was honored with a renaming of Route 137 in Pound Ridge.
The stretch, now called Marine Captain Eric A. Jones Memorial Highway, is in memory of the Pound Ridge native and Fox Lane High School graduate who served multiple tours before his 2009 death in Afghanistan.
The New York State Department of Transportation, which oversees Route 137 and recalled Jones' military service in its announcement, notes that he served two tours in Iraq and was killed in a helicopter collision at the age of 29 in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
"Captain Jones was known for his kindness and quick wit," the department noted in a statement.
The service was also held one day before Veterans Day.
A packed service at the Pound Ridge Town House was held for the ceremony, followed by a march of attendees on Westchester Avenue and up a hill to the dedicated stretch of Route 137. There, an unveiling of new signage in Jones' name was unveiled.
Joining the service were Jones' parents, Ken and Cindy, along with high school friends.
“All I can say for Eric is that he did exactly what he wanted to do in life," Cindy Jones said.
Cindy Jones, who now lives with her husband in Cape Cod, spoke fondly of Pound Ridge, noting that her son would drive to town when he returned home from deployment and adding that “our hearts remain here.”
Michael Warshaw, who is one of Jones' friends from Fox Lane - they were in the class of 1999 - described the moment as "a tremendous honor."
As the years have gone by since Jones' passing, however, Warshaw noted that coping with it has not lessoned as a challenger.
“It doesn't get any easier, I can tell you that with certainty. Strangely enough it seems to get harder ever year.”
Warshaw noted, however, that it's day like this one where "pain turns to pride."
Members of the state legislative delegation who represent Pound Ridge praised Jones for his service.
“He believed in his mission and he believed that American should remain the shining beacon on the hill," said state Sen. Terrence Murphy, who helped get the renaming through the legislature.
State Assemblyman David Buchwald, who also helped with the legislation, contrasted the usage of "honorable" in his capacity as an elected official with the honor that Jones earned as a Marine. The assemblyman added, to talk about true honor is to talk about Captain Jones.”
Pound Ridge Deputy Supervisor Jon Powers read a statement on behalf of Supervisor Dick Lyman, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a prior commitment he made long in advance.
“Captain Jones was one of ours," Lyman said in his statement, noting that he was doing what he enjoyed.