William “Bill” Thomas Jones, Colonel, USAF (Retired), a member of the Greatest Generation, passed away in his Monument, Colorado home surrounded by family on November 17, 2018. He was born on January 28, 1920 in New York City, New York, to Edward and Mary (nee Henry) Jones. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bill volunteered for the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Training Program in October 1941, just prior to Pearl Harbor. Bill completed his training and received his Wings and 2nd Lieutenant commission in November 1942. He was assigned to fly B-25 bombers. After training, he flew his B-25 airplane and crew to India via the Caribbean, South America, Central Africa, and Arabia, to India, where he served in the China Burma India Theater of War. Bill was assigned to the 490th Bomb Squadron known as the “Burma Bridge Busters.”
After about 35 combat missions, Bill was eligible to return to the States. However, he met a beautiful, young US Army nurse, Ethel Ann Gonda, of Youngstown, Ohio, and chose to stay on. Four months later, they decided to get married, not knowing they would need to get permission from Lt. General “Vinegar” Joe Stillwell. Permission was refused twice. More than a year later, and after having flown a total of 100 combat missions in Burma and China, Bill received permission to wed from a new Commanding General. The proviso was that one of the principles must leave the theater of war within 30 days. Bill and Ethel were married in a Carmelite chapel in Calcutta, India on May 1, 1945. Bill returned to the US on June 1, 1945, while Ethel remained in India.
Having received two Air Medals plus a Campaign Ribbon with 3 Battle Stars, Bill expected to be reassigned to combat duty, and that the war, and his separation from Ethel, would go on for years. That separation was reduced to four months when the war with Japan ended. With the war over, regulations required Bill to resign from the Army Air Corps, so that Ethel could return home.
Bill became a NYC Fireman, and was on the list for promotion to Lieutenant, when he elected to return to the Army Air Corps as a Regular Army Officer. In 1947, Bill joined the newly created US Air Force. Among his many assignments, the most memorable was Squadron Commander of a B-36 squadron in the Strategic Air Command (SAC).
During his career, Bill and Ethel moved 18 times. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science from the University of Colorado, becoming a member of the Sigma Iota Epsilon Honor Society. By the time he retired from the Air Force, in January 1971, Bill had given 30 years of military service and received 15 awards and commendations. These included the Legion of Merit for his performance of duty as Director of Operations and later Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Recruiting Service.
Bill and Ethel retired with their family to Woodmoor, in Monument, Colorado. He continued serving his community by becoming president of Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District and as president of Monument Hill Sertoma and was a charter member of the Legacy Sertoma Club. He was a longtime parishioner at St. Peter Catholic Church and served as an usher for 23 years. He enjoyed golf as a member of the Senior Men’s Group at Woodmoor Country Club for 47 years.
Colonel William T. Jones was preceded in death by his loving wife of 69 years, Ethel Ann Jones, a son, Peter Jones, and his brother, Edward Jones. Surviving are his children: William T. Jones Jr. (Meg) of Monument, Judith Crusius (Jim) of Monument, Lt. Colonel (ret.) John P. C. Jones (Anne) of Silverthorne, Michael Jones of Colorado Springs, Cynthia Landsberg (Bill) of Monument, and Mary Beth Wilson (Tom) of Monument. Bill and Ethel had 13 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren, with one on the way.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter Catholic Church in Monument, Colorado at 11 a.m. Saturday, November 24, 2018. A rosary will be said at 10:30 in the church prior to the mass. Reception will follow the funeral mass in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Peter Catholic Church, 55 North Jefferson Street, Monument, Colorado 80132.