Will James Middle School in Billings witnessed a historical moment yesterday as Montana Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) honored teacher Hunter Jones with an official tribute in the Congressional Record.

Jones is recognized as a proud supporter of our troops, having spent over 19 years finding ways to back the military in ways that count. His "why" behind all the support started through a past student he'd taught in the 1990s. She grew up and later reconnected with Jones around the time 9/11 occurred, mentioning she married a service member who was deployed in Afghanistan at the time. So Jones asked if there was a way he could support her husband. He started sending care packages with the help of his classes' students, which has grown into a long-standing love for caring for troops.

Hunter Jones receives Congressional Tribute with teacher and students at his side
Credit: Katherine McKeogh, Office of Senator Steve Daines
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Jones didn't know about the Senator's honor until the 14th after school. "That's priceless," he said of the tribute.

Read the tribute's full message:

TRIBUTE TO HUNTER JONES

MR. DAINES - Mr. President, I have the honor of recognizing Hunter Jones of Billings for his many years supporting Montana service members deployed overseas.

Hunter is the grandson of a World War I veteran, and the son of a World War II and Korean War veteran. Though not a veteran himself, Hunter was instilled with a driving passion to honor military service members throughout his life. Hunter made his way to Billings, Montana, as an educator in 1995, and quickly began a program with his students at Will James Middle School to recognize and honor Montana service members and veterans.

Following the tragic terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, Hunter saw the need to support Montanans deployed overseas in the Global War on Terror. He and his students began sending care packages and letters to the men and women fighting to protect our freedoms. For over 19 years, Hunter has diligently kept this up, and now close to 30 of his former students have been inspired to military service, including a Navy SEAL and members of all military branches, who have also received care packages from him. Military service members have recognized Hunter’s support by sending him American flags flown in countries where they were deployed, along with letters of appreciation. Hunter proudly displays them in his classroom.

It is my distinct honor to recognize Hunter for over 20 years of supporting Montana military service members, and for teaching the Treasure State’s youth to honor those who have fought for this great nation. Hunter’s patriotism and love for the men and women of our armed forces will live on in the generations of Montanans he has taught at Will James Middle School in Billings, Montana.

Jones is originally from Indiana, but has taught in the Billings school district for 27 years, having a passion for history. "I still find fun in it," he said.

If people are interested in joining the cause, they can email jonesh@billingsschools.org. "If everyone would just bring home an extra box of cookies," Jones said.

Suggested items include sweets, home-baked goods, jerky, seeds, and decks of cards.

The next care package is set to go out tomorrow.

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