Advertisement

Archive for Saturday, May 9, 1998

U.S. MARINE CORPS LOSES A GOOD MAN

May 9, 1998

Advertisement

When retired Lt. Gen. William K. Jones died last month, America lost a patriot, his daughter said.

William Kenefick Jones never forgot he was a Marine -- or a general.

Even in the hospital, almost 26 years after he retired, he reminded the nurses it was Gen. Jones, not Mr. Jones, his daughter Carol Hatton of Lawrence said.

``He really prided the fact that he was a Marine Corps general,'' Hatton said. Jones died April 15 after a stroke in Alexandria, Va.

Lt. Gen. Jones, 81, was a 1937 graduate of Kansas University. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation, serving in the World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He was honored with the Silver Star, the Navy Cross and the Bronze Star. In 1971, while commander of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, he was considered for commandant of the Marine Corps. He retired in 1972.

``He rose quickly through the ranks because of the war,'' his daughter said. Her father spent much of WWII in the Pacific, fighting in battles including Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa.

``He really didn't talk too much about his fighting days. ... He didn't like to dwell on it.''

During World War II, his men called him Willie K. He once complained he wanted a tougher, more colorful nickname.

One of his men later said, ``Anybody can have a nickname, but not everybody can have respect.''

John Toland, author of the ``Gods of War,'' interviewed Jones extensively about the Pacific theater.

``John was looking for someone in the Marine Corps to interview about the war,'' Hatton said. Toland based one of his characters in the novel, Billy J, on the general. Hatton said the two became friends and that Jones even helped with some of the battle scenes in the book.

In the forward of his novel, Toland wrote, ``I know of no battalion commander in any army who was more respected or loved than ... Lieutenant Colonel (later Lieutenant General) William K. Jones.''

Hatton said her father was injured for the first time in Vietnam when he was shot in the wrist by a sniper

``He was lucky,'' she said.

Hatton said her father stayed in the corps as a career officer because a love of the military nurtured by her grandfather.

``He kind of instilled that love of the military in his kids, at least in my father,'' she said. ``(My father) was very patriotic. I think that his generation -- they really were patriots.''

Jones was buried April 21 in Arlington National Cemetery.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.