Regional supervisor Keith Jones

Regional supervisor Keith Jones holds up Superman arm floaties that his union gave him as a gift for his military departure at the going away party at the Glendale Unified School District Facilities and Support Operations in Glendale on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Glendale Unified facilities workers on Tuesday gave a warm send-off to a long-time supervisor prepping for a year-long military deployment to Afghanistan.

Keith Jones, who first joined the Navy reserves in 1999, is scheduled to travel later this week to Fort Polk in Louisiana for combat training. He will then be assigned to an Army unit in Afghanistan where he will provide operational support.

“I am really proud that you are leaving a district that will be covering you financially while you are away so your family will not have to worry about that,” Glendale Unified school board member Mary Boger said at the going away party. “And I know that everyone here will be joining me in keeping you in our prayers while you are away. We want you to come home safe and healthy.”

The 43-year-old regional maintenance supervisor has worked at Glendale Unified for 13 years. His responsibilities include overseeing a crew of workers who update and maintain district facilities.

Jones said his father inspired him to join the Navy Construction Battalions, known as Seabees. The senior Jones served as a Seabee in World War II and the Vietnam War.

The trip to Afghanistan will be Jones’ first active-duty deployment. He does not yet know the specifics of his assignment, but the work is likely to include the maintenance and repair of generators, power lines, interior wiring and telephone communications.

“I see it as an opportunity,” he said. “I always wanted to be part of the bigger picture, and lend a little to it.”

He leaves behind a wife and three children. His wife, Kimberly Jones, said she has close ties to other military families — relationships she will depend on during the deployment.

“As families we support everybody. It is not just him we are supporting, it is everybody else,” Kimberly Jones said. “We are just a big family that leans on everybody else… The support is there, not just from the other families, but with the Navy itself.”

During the send-off, colleagues presented the Jones family with several gifts, last among them a pair of floaties meant to help Keith Jones keep his head above water.

“I can’t think of anything more honorable as a person than serving your country,” Supt. Dick Sheehan said.