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Hero honored at new William A. Jones III Building
Maj. Gen. Darren McDew, Air Force District of Washington commander, talks with Col. William A. Jones III's family prior to a display dedication in the new William A. Jones III Building on July 28. The display honors the life and service of Medal of Honor recipient Col. William A. Jones III, a former air commando with the 602nd Special Operations Squadron and A-1 Sky Raider pilot during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur)
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Hero honored at new William A. Jones III Building

Posted 8/3/2011   Updated 8/10/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur
11th Wing Public Affairs


8/3/2011 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- A new display was added July 28 to the main lobby of Joint Base Andrews' new William A. Jones III Building. The display honors the life and service of Medal of Honor recipient Col. William A. Jones III, a former air commando with the 602nd Special Operations Squadron and A-1 Sky Raider pilot during the Vietnam War.

The display dedication, presided over by Maj. Gen. Darren McDew, Air Force District of Washington commander, and more than half a dozen of Jones' family members, was the pièce de résistance to the building, which officially opened its doors March 22.

"Today, we honor Colonel Jones and his family," said McDew. "This display not only pays tribute to an American hero, it also represents the sacrifices made by the Jones family. I realize words cannot make your sorrow any easier to bear, nor can they replace your loss; but please know that our nation is grateful for your husband's sacrifice as well as your own and that you will always be part of our Air Force family."

On Sept. 1, 1968, Jones, led a flight of four A-1H Skyraider aircraft on an escort mission accompanying two helicopters sent out to rescue the pilot of an F-4 Phantom downed about 20 miles northwest of Dong Hoi.

Arriving over the area, he made several low passes across a valley and spotted the downed pilot near a towering rock formation. Enemy gunners occupying a position near the top of the formation opened fire on the propeller-driven Skyraider. Jones realized that the gun position had to be destroyed before a rescue could be made. He attacked the position with cannon and rocket fire. While making his second pass, his aircraft was hit and the cockpit was set ablaze. He attempted to eject but the damaged extraction system failed and only jettisoned the canopy. Before the fire died out, Jones was badly burned and his radio transmitters were disabled.

He returned to base and despite his severe burns, he landed his damaged aircraft safely, and insisted on passing on the vital information concerning the downed pilots' exact location before receiving medical treatment. The downed pilot was rescued later that day.

Jones died in an aircraft accident Nov. 15, 1969 before the Medal of Honor could be presented to him for his selfless heroism. He was 47. His widow received the decoration from President Richard M. Nixon at the White House Aug. 6, 1970.

According to McDew, 40 years later Jones' heroic actions continue to inspire. That inspiration, and a nation's sincere appreciation, led to the naming of the William A. Jones III Building.

"This display is truly beautiful and a fitting tribute to my father," said Jones' first daughter, Anne Gilfillan. "I hope that as the thousands of Airmen working here pass in and out of the building, they stop by and check out this display atleast once."

The William A. Jones III Building, or Jones Building, is a state-of-the-art facility. A mostly "green" building, it sits atop 17 acres of Joint Base Andrews land and was constructed with 20 percent recycled material. The building has an energy-efficient rooftop, which recycles and treats storm water drainage; and employs native agriculture in its landscaping, which promotes better soil irrigation. For these and other environmentally-conscious features, the building's design was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council's Elite Silver Certification. Total cost of the building was $182.6 million dollars, which took 19 months to complete.

For more information on Jones, visit http://www.af.mil/information/heritage/person.asp?dec=1960&pid=123037442.



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