It’s been nearly a year since Naval Reserve Lt. Kylan Jones-Huffman was killed at al-Hilla in Iraq. He had studied Middle Eastern languages and was a Naval Academy graduate and reservist who had planned to begin a Ph.D. in Middle East History at George Washington University in fall of 2003. In January of 2003 he was called up and sent to Bahrain. He made two trips to Iraq, and during the second one he was shot while stuck in traffic in a humvee in downtown al-Hilla. He was an area studies expert and was trying to inform the Coalition officers about Iraqi society. His main interest, however, had been fighting al-Qaeda and its offshoots. He was a real American hero, and I regret that I only knew him by email correspondence–but even there the force of his powerful personality and deep humanity clearly came across.
Please consider contributing in his memory to the Kylan and Heidi Jones-Huffman Middle Eastern History Fund at George Washington University. Kylan needs young successors to his curiosity about and love for Middle Eastern culture if we are to get through the current crisis. Make checks payable to: George Washington University, and write in memo note: Kylan and Heidi Jones-Huffman Middle Eastern History Fund. The landmail address is:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Attn: Barbara Tesner
Phillips Hall 212
801 22nd Street NW Washington D.C. 20052
A prize has also been established in Kylan’s name at the Naval Academy:
Prize honors Navy professor killed in Iraq
By WENDI WINTERS, For The Capital
With a gap-toothed smile, penchant for haiku and passion for learning, Lt. Kylan Jones-Huffman made friends well past his time as a midshipman then respected history teacher at the Naval Academy.
His charismatic charm with students and teachers, coupled with his uncompleted plans, made news of his death last summer in Iraq all the more shocking to his peers in the close-knit academic community.
In a break with tradition, several professors at the academy have established a memorial prize to honor the young man who was anything but traditional.
“The Prize for Cultural Studies is for people who stand on the frontier and see the other side,” said professor Richard Abels, a History Department colleague.
“He was always willing to question accepted wisdoms, not only those of the academy, but accepted wisdoms. He was always willing to act on principle, what he thought was right, even if it was unpopular.”
The afternoon of Aug. 21, the reservist and Navy intelligence analyst, fluent in several languages, was on temporary duty with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Stationed in Bahrain, Lt. Jones-Huffman had traveled to the Iraqi city of Al Hillah to brief arriving Polish and Spanish troops on cultural sensitivities and differences, his wife said.
His mission was nearly accomplished and the 31-year-old California native looked forward to his flight to safety the next day . . . ‘A true patriot’
He began his civilian job with Naval Criminal Investigative Service on Sept. 11, 2001. To fund his desire to earn a doctorate in Arabic studies at George Washington University, he joined the reserves . . .
“He was a warrior, a poet and a scholar,” said professor Abels. “He didn’t see any conflict or contradictions in these three aspects of his character. In fact, they fit together and made him a better naval officer and citizen. He was a true patriot.”
Lt. Jones-Huffman was a teacher who was not willing to allow the midshipmen he taught to under-perform. They agreed he was a role model for midshipmen.
The two professors, along with other teachers at the Naval Academy, are funding the Kylan Jones-Huffman Prize for Midshipman Studies on Culture and Identity with their own money. It will be awarded next spring.
Midshipmen from any class can submit a paper in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences to be considered for the prize. The paper must study how societies have developed the impact that they have had in the political, social, and military arenas.
The prize, representing two aspects of his character, is a replica samurai sword accompanied by a small scroll with a calligraphic copy of one of Lt. Jones-Huffman’s haiku.
“If he walked in that door right now,” said professor Culham, “I’d say, ‘Kylan where are all my history books you borrowed?’ She laughed momentarily, then began to cry.
For further information about the Kylan Jones-Huffman Prize, contact Professor David Peele at peeler a t USNA dot edu. Contributions should be made payable to USNA-Kylan Jones-Huffman Fund and sent to Capt. Robert Parsons, Deputy for Finance and Administration, USNA, 121 Blake Road, Annapolis, MD 21402-5000.