By Charlotte Boynton
World War II veteran George Jones points out the medals, and ribbons he received during his three year tour of duty in the U.S. Army Air Force, now
framed and hanging on the wall of his Wiscasset home. (Charlotte Boynton photo)
On Monday, May 25, Americans celebrate Memorial Day, a day set aside each year to honor the men and women who gave their lives while in the service of the country.
Veterans who served their country and were fortunate enough to make it back from a war zone, never forget the ones that didn’t make it home.
Corporal George Jones, a U.S. Army Air Force veteran of World War II is one of those veterans who remembers the sacrifices made by the veterans of all wars, and
considers himself a very lucky man to return unharmed from World War II.
Jones faced death many times, participating 55 bombing missions in the Pacific during World War II, logging 279 combat hours in a B-25 Mitchell bomber while
stationed in the Philippines. He received seven battle stars for his service, plus the Philippine Liberator Medal, the Asiatic Pacific ribbon, the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and
the Good Conduct Medal.
“With every mission we went on, we knew it could be our last.” he said.
Graduating from Lincoln Academy in 1941, Jones enlisted in the Army Reserves, and attended the University of Maine to study chemical engineering while participating
in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the university.
However, beginning his second semester he was not doing well in school and was getting anxious to do his part in the war. After speaking with the dean at the
university, he decided to go into active duty. He was sent to Shepherd Field for basic training, then to Sioux Falls. S.D. for radio school, Yuma, Ariz. for gunnery school, then
to Greenville, S.C. for crew training on the B-25 bomber.
Jones said his time at the University of Maine, and his participation in the ROTC program helped him in basic training. When his company was marching on the parade
field in the hot sun. Because of his ROTC training, he already knew how to march, so he was selected to call the cadence.
According to Jones, the five-man B-25 crews trained together, and stayed together throughout the missions. However, after the crew training, equipment was taken off
the B-25 and several gas tanks were installed inside the plane for the trip from San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii.
“They called us the flying gas tank,” Jones said.
He doesn’t recall how many hours it took the B-25, operated by three crew members, to get to Honolulu, but he does remember it was a long trip. Because of the added
gas tanks there was not enough room for the other two crew members who traveled by a commercial flight to Honolulu.
After arriving in Honolulu the B-25 was prepared for war. Seven machine guns were installed and other equipment was put back on the plane, and the crew was off to
Nadzar Airfield in New Guinea. From August 1944 until August 1945 Jones flew bombing missions with his crew.
George Jones’ B-25 bomber crew poses for photo before heading to the Pacific in 1944. Jones, (front row, far right) and his crew flew 55 bombing mission
in the Pacific Theater. (Photo courtesy George Jones)
Their missions involved flying close to the ground in order to hit enemy targets. With each mission, the plane came under ground fire. During one of these low flying missions,
their navigator received a head wound and died.
During the missions, according to Jones, he and his crew flew in several different B-25s, the planes were often damaged during the mission from enemy fire, but the
crew that trained together stayed together.
According to a flight log Jones has, between Oct. 21, 1944 until April 23, 1945, the missions lasted between four to 10 hours with the average being about six hours,
with about 20 minutes of bombing. The target and the distance to travel to the target determined the length of the mission, Jones said.
After the war ended Jones came home and went to work at Bath Iron works for a short period of time. He soon met Marilyn Petrie of Wiscasset, and just one year later
they were married. Using a GI Loan, Jones purchased the home on Pleasant Street in Wiscasset, where he still lives today.
With a $5,000 loan from Jones’ father, the couple opened the Yankee Wholesale Business in Wiscasset. The business supplied candy and tobacco to stores in Maine. The
couple owned and operated the business for 39 years before they sold their interest to Pine State Trading Co. in 1989.
He and Marilyn had three children, Donald, Dale, and Dawn. Marilyn passed away in 2012.
Jones, who is now 92 years old, says sometimes he can’t remember what happened yesterday, but the time he served in the U.S. Army Air Force 70th Bombardment Squadron
is forever etched in his mind.
While looking though his World II memorabilia Jones came across a photo of Bondi Beach in Sidney, Australia that brought back happy memories. He said that he and a
couple of his buddies were given a 10-day pass, and were flown from their base to Bondi Beach for a few days of relaxation.
“The beach was beautiful, and we had a wonderful time,” he said. “However, when the 10 days were up, there was no plane that could get in to bring us back to base,
so we had to stay there until a plane was available to bring us back.”
“We really were in no hurry to leave the beach,” Jones said with a smile.”We were having a good time.”