For Release on October 17, 2011:
Remembering our Veterans:
Honor Flight Brings WW-II Sailor Full Circle
Quad City World War II Veteran to See Washington, DC for the First Time.
(Davenport, IA) – Sixty-five years ago, World War II ended on what became known as V-J Day, or Victory over Japan Day.
For lifetime Quad Citian and Navy veteran Tom Jones, 86, these past six and a half decades after the war brought what he describes as the perfect marriage, six children and “a lucky and very good life.”
Humble words for what many have described as the Greatest Generation. As President Roosevelt expressed in 1936, “To some generations, much is given; to other generations, much is asked; but to this generation of Americans, our World War II generation, they have a rendezvous with destiny.”
During the war, Jones was trained as a third class gunner’s mate. His assignment: serve on merchant ship gun crews and protect the ships and their precious cargo against the deadly German U-boat submarines.
“We got out of boot camp, and the Navy shipped us to California” Tom recalls. “We travelled around the world…first crossing the Pacific, guarding a boat to Egypt as it sailed up the Suez Canal, and then travelling back across the Atlantic. Our ship carried food and ammunition that the troops would need in the war.
“We had some dangerous moments. We had to use our guns against the Japanese and German airplanes, but we escaped the U-boats,” he said. “I was lucky. I was never injured, although I sure got seasick sometimes.”
Jones served until the war ended, and following his return home to the Quad Cities, he moved on with his life: getting married, landing a job, and raising a large family.
In fact in the summer after the war, when he married his wife Margaret (Jansen) Jones, all three of her sisters also tied the knot in the summer of 1946.
“Our marriage was perfect,” smiles Jones. “We never spent a night apart unless I was driving a truck. We raised four boys and two girls and spent 65 wonderful years together.” Margaret passed away last year and, now in 2011, as the war’s 66th anniversary is commemorated, he has the opportunity to remember his service with other veterans as part of the Quad Cities’ 14th Honor Flight for World War II veterans.
“I’ve been all over the country, but never to Washington DC,” says Tom. “I’m really looking forward to it.” Currently he lives in Senior Star at Elmore Place’s Assisted Living Community in Davenport.
Tom’s trip is organized by the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, a local chapter of the national Honor Flight Network, which flies WWII veteran’s to our nation’s capitol so they can visit the memorials dedicated to honoring their sacrifices. The nonstop flights depart at 7am from the Quad City International Airport, and fly to Washington, D.C., returning that same evening.
“We are so proud of Tom,” says Senior Star at Elmore Place Executive Director Cathy Hughes. “The trip is a great honor for both him and his family, and I’m sure he’ll bring back stories to share for years to come.”
For Tom, the trip brings him full circle, from his early days in the Navy to when his life began after the war ended. It was a war that cost an estimated 60 million lives, including 400,000 Americans who never came home. In total, 16 million men and women served in uniform during WWII on land, at sea, and in the air.
“There were so many families who lost loved ones. My wife’s brother died in Germany, and I was grateful just to come home. I’m looking forward to visiting Washington, but with or without the trip, I’ve had a great life. My kids are healthy, I’ve got 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and had a wonderful marriage,” says Tom.
About Senior Star:
Senior Star, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a private company founded in 1976 that entered the senior housing business in 1989. Today, the company has become a nationally recognized industry leader for providing quality and innovative services. The organization’s portfolio includes 10 retirement communities in six states offering independent, assisted living and memory care options.
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