Kenneth Lee Jones was born in Coxton Kentucky 4/19/1923, and he died 12/10/1998. He was the only child of John and Inez Jones but was raised by his paternal grandparents after his mother's death, when he was 10.
Kenneth joined the Army Air Corps (predecessor to the Air Force) on July 4, 1942. He completed basic training at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indiana and was eventually sent to Bassingborne England as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber with the 91st Bomb Group.
He flew 17 missions before his plane was involved in a midair collision with another B-17 which resulted in his capture on August 12, 1943. He was held at Stalag 6G, Dulag Luft and Stalag 17B. He went down over Gelsenkirchen Germany in the Ruhr Valley. He made 2 unsuccessful escape attempts from Stalag 6G. The first was unsuccessful because he was headed in the wrong direction, towards Berlin and the second because he reached the Rhine River and could not swim. He was also on crutches at the time.
After these two attempts he was sent for two weeks of interrogation to Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp. He was then sent to Stalag 17B in Kerns Austria. He was a SSGT at the time of his capture. He was a Prisoner of war from August 12, 1943 to May 31,1945 when he was liberated by the 3rd Army and taken to France and then home. He promptly re-enlisted.
He is also a Veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam conflict. He retired as a Chief Master Sgt., an E-9. Over the course of his military career, He was shot seven times on three different occasions. As well as sustaining a broken back when his plane crashed. Ken retired from the service on April 1, 1975 after 33 years of service. He was the last enlisted World War II Prisoner of War, with continuous service, to retire from the USAF.
Ken earned a Bachelor of Creative Arts degree from Dallas Baptist College in 1978. In a newspaper article written about him in the Plano paper in 1986 he was asked who the four people he would most like to meet were. He listed "my great, great, great, great grandfather, Titus Marshon; he was in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and General Patton. The article also asked if he could change places for 1 day with anyone who would it be and he replied "no one." He just liked being himself.
Ken married Ora Lee O'Brian on 7/12/57 in a small town outside Fairbanks Alaska. His wife passed away on 09/11/2003. He has 2 children, Lisa Jones Mowry born 10/23/59, who lives in Austin, Texas and Cecilia Jones born 5/21/61, who lives in Plano Texas.
Past organizations that Ken belonged to include the American Legion Post 321, the Plano VFW, the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was Captain in the Texas State Guard, Adjutant in Chapter 91 of Plano DAV and Commander of the North Central Texas Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW). For AXPOW, he also served as Director of Claims, National Service and co-chairman of the organization's Advisory Committee for the State of Texas.
The following is a list of the majority of assignments but does not include all; Jefferson Barracks in Mississippi, Harlingen Texas, Salt Lake City Utah, Boise Idaho, Alamogordo New Mexico, Selina Kansas, Topeka Kansas, Tulsa Oklahoma, West Palm Beach Florida, San Antonio Texas, Waco Texas, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Fairbanks Alaska and Overseas he was stationed in Cuba, Georgetown British Columbia, Earkar South Africa, French Morocco, Bassingborne England, Korea, Manila Philippines, Vietnam and West Berlin Germany.
Kenneth's Message would be, "Take one day at a time and just enjoy being yourself."