WASHINGTON -- A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force chief of staff was laid to rest Oct. 25 in Arlington National Cemetery.
Retired Gen. David C. Jones served as the ninth chief of staff from 1974 to 1978 until he was appointed as the ninth chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he served as the military’s top military officer until 1982.
Current Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, current Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III., and other current and former military members joined Jones' family and friends to honor him.
“He was one of the finest military leaders in our nation’s history. He was a tireless advocate for training and readiness but kept one eye focused on the future,” Welsh said, one of several speakers during the memorial service, calling the event an opportunity to “celebrate” the life of a “remarkable man.”
Jones was born in Aberdeen, S.D., and graduated from high school in Minot, N.D., in 1939, where he would ride his bike to the nearby airport to watch airplanes take off and land.
He attended the University of North Dakota and Minot State College until the outbreak of World War II. At that time, he entered the Army Air Corps, beginning aviation cadet training in April 1942, and received his commission and pilot wings in February 1943.
A graduate of the National War College, the general was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1974, an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Louisiana Tech University in 1975, and an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Minot State College, Minot, N.D., in 1979.
During Jones’ career, he was assigned to a bombardment squadron during the Korean War and accumulated more than 300 hours on missions over North Korea. He also commanded an aerial refueling squadron and a tactical fighter wing, and became the top aide to Gen. Curtis LeMay. In 1969, Jones served in the Republic of Vietnam as deputy commander for operations and then as vice commander of the Seventh Air Force.
Welsh remarked on many other notable accomplishments during Jones’ tenure, to include direction of the Rapid Deployment Force, what we now know as U.S. Central Command, and played a critical role in shaping DOD reorganization efforts, which led to the 1986 Goldwater Nichols Act.
Jones retired from the Air Force July 1, 1982.
“From those great days as a young boy in North Dakota, Gen. Jones always had a unique ability to see further and with more clarity than others,” Welsh said. “That clarity, his brilliance, and his dedicated service helped make our Air Force, our military, and our country what they are today. Seventy-one years ago now, young David Jones raised his right hand and swore that he would ‘well and faithfully discharge his duties’ … promise kept …”
At the time of his death, he was battling Parkinson’s disease.
(Information courtesy of Air Force Public Affairs Agency)