At Blythe Construction, our team is strengthened by the dedication and leadership of numerous United States military veterans. Grade Superintendent Jason Mowles is one of them. Jason served our country for more than 10 years in the US Army, including five deployments as a Special Ops soldier to Iraq and Afghanistan, before joining Blythe in 2017.
Prior to joining the Army, Jason had already embarked on a career in the construction industry. At age 30, he was earning a solid living as a Project Engineer for a commercial building company that completed projects throughout the county. Although he was succeeding professionally, Jason says he was struggling personally.
“I was young and making a lot of money I didn’t know what to do with,” he says. “I wasn’t being the best husband I could have been, and my marriage was on the rocks. I knew enough to know I needed a gut check. My moral compass had drifted, and I needed a big slice of humble pie to help get my priorities back on track.”
With that understanding, Jason decided to enlist in the Army. Growing up, he had been raised in part by his grandfather who had served in World War II and two uncles, each of whom fought in Vietnam. He remembered the discipline they had instilled in him and thought, what better way to regain it than by serving as they had.
Unlike most Army recruits, Jason was well out of high school and college when he signed up. At age 30, he was older and more experienced the majority of his fellow soldiers. The result was that his basic training at Fort Knox was in many ways easy. “I had trained hard before going in,” he explains, “so physically I was prepared. The challenging part was taking orders from guys who were younger and had less experience than I had. But that’s what I had wanted. I wanted to be humbled.”
An especially humbling blows came in the form of his first assignment. Instead of the Airborne unit in Hawaii he signed up for, he was shipped to Camp Casey in South Korea for 13 months without R&R. Jason says that while he enjoyed much of the training, life at Camp Casey was difficult. It was made more difficult as a result of being disconnected from his family. “The problems between my wife and I that had started back home got worse,” he says. “I went three months without being able to talk with my daughters.”
“The military forced me into situations where I had to earn respect from people with more experience than I had. That applies here, too. It’s not about rank. We’re a team.”
Despite the personal challenges of that time, Jason says he began to notice the changes he’d sought by joining the Army. “I started to embrace it. The comradery, the training. I was humbled by the experience of being just a number, and I was forced to remember that nobody had put me there. I volunteered to be there, so I couldn’t complain.”
After 13 months in Korea, Jason was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia. He found opportunity there to distinguish himself and expand his training. He began climbing the ranks, and in doing so started to see a future for himself in the military. It wasn’t long before he set his sights on joining a Special Forces unit. At the encouragement of his First Sargent, Jason gained a place at Fort Bragg and embarked on “Hell Week.”
“It’s misery basically,” Jason recalls. “But I’m an adrenaline junky and I knew they couldn’t kill me, so I just went for it. I actually loved it. It’s not a physical battle, because everyone there is in top shape. It’s more a psychological battle, more than anybody who’s never done it can really imagine.”
After making it through, and completing additional training that follows, Jason graduated to Special Forces. His military career from that point onward included an astounding five deployment to the Middle East, two in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. He describes those experiences as “everything I thought it would be and then some. It changes everything, especially your perspective. At that point I really put my mind into my job. I wanted to be the best soldier I could be and really learn my craft. And that’s tremendously important, because the stakes in that environment are very high.”
After completing his fifth deployment, Jason recognized it was time to move on. “The fourth and fifth deployments were pretty rough,” he says. “We made it back, but you see things that get to you. For me it was just time.”
Since leaving the Army, Jason has put his leadership skills to outstanding use on major projects for both Hubbard Construction Company and now Blythe Construction, Inc. He is currently a member of the NC-540 JV team in Raleigh, NC. He draws a comparison between the dynamics of a military unit and that of a construction crew, explaining, “The people around you depend on you, no matter who you are on the team. The project depends on you. All of us here on the job have to justify our existence. The military forced me into situations where I had to earn respect from people with more experience than I had. That applies here, too. It’s not about rank. We’re a team.”
Blythe is grateful to Jason and the many other veterans who contribute to our team’s success. On Veterans Day, and throughout the entire year, we thank them for their service and sacrifice.