Lieutenant General William K. Jones



Lieutenant General William K. Jones, who earned the Navy Cross and Silver Star Medal during World War II, and retired from active duty 1 September 1972, died 15 April 1998 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Born 23 October 1916, in Joplin, Missouri, he completed St. Peter's Elementary School there then attended Southwest High School in Kansas City, Missouri, graduating in 1933. In 1937, he was graduated from the University of Kansas, with an A.B. degree. While in college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, 25 April 1936, and attended summer training courses in Platoon Leaders' Class at San Diego, California. He was commissioned a Marine Reserve second lieutenant on 31 January 1938; was assigned to active duty on 29 September 1939; and was integrated into the regular Marine Corps in November 1940.

After completing the Reserve Officers' Course at Quantico, Virginia, in November, 1939, he joined the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, at San Diego. He remained with the 1st Battalion for almost six years, including all of World War II. In May 1941, he embarked with the 6th Marines for Iceland as part of the 1st Marine Brigade. He returned to the United States in March 1942 when the regiment was attached to the 2d Marine Division at San Diego. In the spring of 1942, he was promoted to first lieutenant and, shortly after, to captain.

With his unit, Jones was ordered to the Pacific area in October 1942. He took part in the Guadalcanal campaign as a company executive officer, and later served as a company commander, and battalion executive officer. He was promoted to major in May 1943.

In September 1943, he became Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, and in this capacity took part in four more campaigns: Tarawa, where he earned the Silver Star Medal and a field promotion to lieutenant colonel; Saipan, where he earned the Navy Cross; Tinian; and Okinawa.

The Silver Star Medal was awarded him for gallantry in action at Tarawa on the night of 22-23 November 1943, when, his citation states, he exposed himself to withering shellfire to organize and direct a mortar platoon and elements of his headquarters company in a brilliantly executed counterattack against Japanese troops who had broken through his battalion's lines.

The Navy Cross was awarded him for extraordinary heroism from 15 June to 1 August 1944, on Saipan. His citation states in part:

"… When companies under his command landed out of position on three separate beaches, LtCol. Jones braved heavy enemy mortar, artillery and small-arms fire to proceed from unit to unit and reorganize and direct their disposition in seizing the designated target. Under his competent leadership, the battalion repeatedly turned back Japanese counterattacks during the ensuing two days and, on the night of 16 June, bore the brunt of a hostile tank attack in which 24 Japanese tanks were destroyed…"

Returning to the United States in July 1945, Jones was stationed at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, as Head, Tactics and Techniques Section, Basic School, until May 1947; and Chief of the Infantry Section, Junior School, until June 1948. Following brief duties in Washington, D.C., he sailed in August 1948 for Sweden where he served for two years as Assistant Naval Attache and Assistant Naval Attache for Air at the American Embassy in Stockholm.

In August 1950, he reported for duty in the G-3 Section, Division of Plans and Policies, Headquarters Marine Corps. He served there as Head of the Operations Subsection until February 1952, when he became Head of the Operations and Training Branch. During the latter assignment, he was promoted to colonel in August 1952.

In September 1953, after serving for three months as Assistant G-3 at Headquarters Marine Corps, Jones arrived in Korea where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 1st Marine Division, for five months. He then commanded the 1st Marine Regiment until his return to the United States in July 1954. The Bronze Star Medal was awarded him for his service in Korea.

During the next four years, he was again stationed at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2/G-3, for two years, with additional duty as a member of the Fleet Marine Force Organization and Composition Board, from June 1956 to January 1957; and in August 1956 became Commanding Officer of The Basic School.

Leaving Quantico in July 1958, Jones assumed command of the Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. He held this command until July 1960 when he entered the National War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completing the course in Naval Warfare, he was assigned to the Pentagon as Chief, General Operations Division, J-3, Operations Directorate, Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in July 1961. He served in this capacity until September 1962, when he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps. On 1 October 1962, he was promoted to brigadier general and appointed Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

In March 1964, General Jones assumed command of Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, California.

Ordered to the Far East in December 1965, he was assigned duty as Director, Combat Operations Center, Headquarters, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). For his services there, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He was promoted to major general in November 1966.

Detached in December 1966, General Jones returned to the United States and assumed duties as Deputy Director of Personnel, Headquarters Marine Corps. For his service in this capacity from 1 January 1967 until 1 March 1969, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

When reassigned to Vietnam in April 1969, he assumed command of the 3d Marine Division. Until its redeployment to Okinawa on 7 November 1969, the division conducted extensive combat operations in the Northern I Corps Tactical Zone near the DMZ.

Once repositioned upon Okinawa, Jones assumed two duties in addition to remaining the Commanding General of the 3d Marine Division, those being Commanding General of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander, Task Force 79 of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. For exceptionally meritorious service as CG, 3d Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, and subsequently as Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa, from April 1969 until April 1970, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal. The Vietnamese government awarded him the National Order of Vietnam, 4th Class, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and the Chuong My-1st Class Medal.

Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned duty as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff at Headquarters Marine Corps. Nominated for three-star rank by President Nixon, his nomination was confirmed by the Senate, 12 May 1970.

After his promotion to lieutenant general, 1 July 1970, he assumed his last duty assignment as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and served in this capacity until he retired from active duty, 1 September 1972. He was awarded a third award of the Distinguished Service Medal for his service during this assignment.

A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Navy Cross; three awards of the Distinguished Service Medal; the Silver Star Medal; the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star Medal; the Purple Heart; the Presidential Unit Citation; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars; the National Order of Vietnam, 4th Class; the ULCHI (Korean) Medal; the National Order of Vietnam, 5th Class; the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal; the Chuong My-1st Class Medal of Vietnam; the United Nations Service Medal; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device.

Marine Corps University