David C. Jones

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David C. Jones
David C Jones official portrait.jpg
Jones in 1978
Born(1921-07-09)July 9, 1921
Aberdeen, South Dakota
DiedAugust 10, 2013(2013-08-10) (aged 92)
Potomac Falls, Virginia
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1942–1982
Commands heldChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force
Second Air Force
33rd Tactical Fighter Wing
33rd Bombardment Squadron
22nd Air Refueling Squadron
19th Bombardment Squadron
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal

David Charles Jones (July 9, 1921 – August 10, 2013) was a United States Air Force general and the ninth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and raised in Minot, North Dakota, Jones graduated from Minot High School and attended both the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and Minot State Teacher's College. While attending college, he received his private pilot license from the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In April 1942, he left college to join the United States Army Air Forces.[2]

Military career[edit]

In February 1943, Jones graduated from Roswell Army Airfield flight school in New Mexico, received his pilot wings, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as a flying instructor in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, Jones was assigned to the 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron of the Fifth Air Force in Japan in 1945. He began as a unit pilot, flying Catalina flying boats, and rose to command the squadron.

From 1948 to 1949 Jones was a unit instructor and then assistant operations and training officer with the 2236th Air Force Reserve Training Center, Godman Field, Kentucky. Also during this period, he attended specialized professional military training courses.

CPTP Students Solo 1940

Jones was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Squadron at March AFB, California, in January 1950. During his years with the 19th, he rose to aircraft commander, then operations officer and finally commander of the squadron. He flew more than 300 hours on combat missions over North Korea, when the squadron was one of the first bombardment units committed to the Korean War. In May 1953 he transitioned from bombers to tankers, taking command of the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron at March. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in June 1953, he remained at March but returned to bombers the following year as commander of the 33rd Bombardment Squadron.[3]

Jones next served at Headquarters Strategic Air Command (SAC), Offutt AFB, Nebraska, during SAC's build-up period. He was assigned initially in September 1954 as an operations planner in the bomber mission branch and remained there until January 1955, when General Curtis LeMay selected him as his aide. Promoted to colonel in April 1957, Jones became director of materiel and later deputy commander for maintenance of SAC's 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle AFB, California.

Jones was a 1960 graduate of the National War College. Following that, Jones was assigned to the Air Staff's operations directorate for four years. As chief of the manned systems branch, he worked on the B-70 bomber project. He then served as deputy chief and chief of the Strategic Division. After F-100 and F-4 training, Jones assumed command of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida, at its activation in 1965 and bought it to operational status.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David C. Jones with Foreign Minister of the Philippines, Carlos P. Romulo; Ambassador Richard W. Murphy; Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos; and Imelda Marcos at the Clark Air Base

Jones then served in key staff assignments with United States Air Forces in Europe. He received his second star in November 1967. In February 1969 Jones was assigned to Headquarters Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Vietnam, as deputy chief of staff for operations and became vice commander in June. Promoted to lieutenant general, he returned to SAC in August 1969 as commander of the Second Air Force, headquartered at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

In April 1971, Jones returned to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) as vice commander in chief. He assumed command of USAFE and the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force in August and was promoted to general in September. In his North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) capacity as commander of the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force, Jones directed an international planning team that integrated central region air forces into a more cohesive organization. Key to that effort was his creation of a small operational and planning headquarters, Allied Air Force, Central Europe.

Capping a career that had included operational and command positions in bomber, tanker, training and tactical fighter units as well as headquarters staff positions, Jones became Chief of Staff of the Air Force in July 1974. Jones pursued a policy of developing high-technology weapons systems. In addition, he reorganized the Air Force command structure and substantially reduced headquarters staffs. He supported modernization with such systems as the F-15, F-16, the A–10, and the E–3A. Much of the modernization program was focused on the European area, where the United States developed initiatives in response to Department of Defense and congressional interest for an increase in the capability of NATO. On May 31, 1978, Jones was awarded the Order of the Sword, the Air Force enlisted force's highest honor for officer leadership.

Jones accompanied President Jimmy Carter to Vienna, Austria, in June 1979 for the final stage of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II negotiations with the USSR. When the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan raised fears that Soviet forces there might move into neighboring Iran, where an anti-Western militant Islamic regime had taken power in early 1979, Carter created a rapid deployment force for Southwest Asia to counter any such attempt in the region. Subsequently, at the direction of the secretary of defense, Jones oversaw planning for the transformation of the Rapid Defense Force into a regional unified command. The planning for what in 1983 became the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) was essentially completed during his chairmanship.

Jones also oversaw the planning for the rescue of the U.S. embassy personnel taken hostage in November 1979 by followers of the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, and he survived the criticism for that rescue mission's failure. During his second term as chairman, Jones worked to make the chairman, rather than the corporate JCS, the principal military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense, arguing that such a change of the National Security Act would improve the quality and timeliness of military advice and the combined readiness and effectiveness of the nation's combat forces. Jones continued his efforts toward that goal after his retirement as chairman of the JCS and saw it come to fruition with the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act in 1986.

Jones 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 in 1979. Jones was the final Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be decorated for service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Jones in 1986

Jones was a member of the Air Force Association, the Falcon Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Alfalfa Club, the Bohemian Club and the Family.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1942, he married Lois Tarbell (1921–2009). They had three children, two daughters Susan and Kathy; and a son, David Curtis.[5]

Jones died August 10, 2013 at a military retirement community in Potomac Falls, Virginia at age 92. He had Parkinson's disease.[6] Jones was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on October 25, 2013.[7]

Awards and decorations[edit]

COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png US Air Force Command Pilot Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with two service stars
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with service star
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters
VPD National Order of Vietnam - Knight BAR.svg National Order of Vietnam, Knight
Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order Ribbon-First Class.svg Air Force Distinguished Service Order, 1st class (Vietnam)
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Knight Commander's Cross
Order of Aeronautical Merit - Knight (Argentina) - ribbon bar.gif Order of May (Aeronautical Merit), Knight (Argentina)
French Legion of Honour, Commander
VEN Cruz de la Fuerza Aérea Venezolana.png Air Force Cross, 1st class (Venezuela)
Grande ufficiale OMRI BAR.svg Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Grand Officer
COL Gran Cruz de la Fuerza Aerea al Merito Aeronautico cinta.png Air Force Cross of Aeronautical Merit, Grand Cross (Colombia)
JPN Kyokujitsu-sho blank BAR.svg Order of the Rising Sun, degree unknown (Japan)
Order of Aeronautical Merit (Bolivia) - ribbon bar.png Bolivian Order of Aeronautical Merit, Knight
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award
United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg United Nations Korea Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. ^ "Gen. David C. Jones". Meaningful Funerals. (obituary). August 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard (August 14, 2013). "Gen. David C. Jones, Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Joint History Office (2000), The Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1949–1999 ISBN 0-16-050638-7
  4. ^ Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 281
  5. ^ Goldstein, Richard (August 14, 2013). "Gen. David C. Jones, Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  6. ^ "Gen. David C. Jones, Ex-Joint Chiefs Chair, Dies". AP. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "Ninth CSAF laid to rest". United States Air Force. October 28, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2014.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. George S. Brown
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
July 1, 1974 – June 20, 1978
Succeeded by
Gen. Lew Allen Jr.
Preceded by
Gen. George S. Brown
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
June 21, 1978 – June 18, 1982
Succeeded by
Gen. John William Vessey Jr.