A father-son duo was honored May 11 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, with the bestowal of Crosses of Military Service.
James Thomas Jones and son Jeffrey James Jones were given the crosses for their military service in the United States Army. James Jones, who served in Vietnam, retired as a Captain in the 336th Assault Helicopter Co. and Jeffrey Jones, who served in the Global War on Terror, retired as a Sgt. 1st Class, Co. D, 4th Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.
In January 1960, Bastrop native James Thomas Jones joined the U.S. Army.
The 1957 Bastrop High School graduate says he joined the military to learn a trade. He finished a three year tour of duty and returned to Bastrop, but after only being out for three months, decided to go back to the military way of life with the intentions of retiring there.
The eldest Jones, James, married Patsy Jones, (PJ) and the couple moved to Ft. Benning, Ga., where their first child, Tara, was born. Soon after the birth of Tara, James was sent to Greenland, where he helped build a winter camp at the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap. He then applied for and was accepted for Engineer Officers Candidate School.
After becoming a Second Lt. in the Corps of Engineers, James was deployed to Vietnam, where he served for one year as a Combat Engineer Platoon Leader in the Mekong Delta. James returned from Vietnam to teach Basic trainees at Ft. Ord, Calif. But, James knew the war in Vietnam was far from over and decided that if he was going to have to return there, he wanted to do so in the air inside of on the ground.
James was accepted into helicopter flight school and his son, Jeffrey James, was born at Rt. Rucker during his training. He received his orders for his second tour of Vietnam, this time flying Huey helicopters.
James served the remainder of his 20-plus years of service with duties in Germany, North Carolina, Kentucky and at Ft. Polk. He earned two Bronze Star medals, a Meritorious Service medal, six Air medals, two Good Conduct medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman Badges and the Army Aviator Badge.
Jones and family returned to Bastrop after his retirement, and in 2004, retired afer serving with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office.
Son Jeffrey Jones knew after graduating from Bastrop High School in 1987 that he wanted to join the military.
"When I was deciding on what area I wanted to focus on, I saw a picture similar to one that hung in my house of a Huey helicopter and that was it," Jeffrey said.
He became a helicopter mechanic working on the very thing his father flew in Vietnam: the Huey. His first duty station was in the Republic of Panama during which Noriega was overthrown. He met his wife, Magaly Cortez, while stationed there and daughter Krystal was born soon after they returned to the states. Jeffrey spent his military career serving in Virginia, Egypt, Italy, Columbia and Afghanistan. He retired after 23 years of service and joined the private sector, specializing in the drone program.
Jeffrey earned the Combat Action Badge, a Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, an Air medal and eight Army Commendation medals. Jeffrey and Magaly had a second daughter, Jamie, who was born while they were stationed at Ft. Rucker.
The men's history of service to their country follows in their ancestor's footsteps as James' great-great-great-grandfather Benjamin Stewart and great-great-grandfather Vardy Leslie Stewart both served the Confederacy during the War Between the States. Jeffrey's great-great grandfather Sidney Moses Dumas also served in the Confederate Army and his maternal grandfather James Raymond Jones, served in Wold War II.