of his classmates
States Military Academy Class of 1946
John Thomas Jones
No. 15615 Class of 1946
Died 2 September 1991 in Arlington, Virginia,
aged 67 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery
John Thomas Jones was born 28 September 1923 in Decherd, Tennessee. He
was always known as Tom except to a few close cadet friends who knew him
as J.T. Tom graduated from Franklin County High School in Winchester, Tennessee
in 1942. He was active in sports in high school, being co-captain of his
basketball team. Tom entered the University of Tennessee, but after two
quarters he was called to active duty from a Reserve status. While receiving
Engineer training at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Tom learned his coveted appointment
to West Point had come through. On 1 July 1943, be trudged up the hill
from the railroad station at West Point to join the Class of 1946.
Though West Point was a far cry from small
town life in Tennessee, Tom had little
trouble adapting to cadet life. As with so
many of his classmates, his goal was to
graduate and learn as much as he could in
order to reach his full potential as an Army officer. One of his roommates,
John J. Schmitt, recalled: "J.T. was an easygoing, good-natured cadet.
He had a great sense of humor-accepting the good experiences and the adversities
with equal resolve and with a smile. He gained from every experience. His
outlook was always positive. Tom was a loyal friend -- caring and concerned
-- ready and wanting to help anyone with any problem at any time."
Tom's other roommate, Kibbey Horne, recalled:
"... An easy man to live with, he
was always thoughtful of other people and
willing to help where it was needed. As a cadet, one of his great passions
in life was watching sports events. Schmitt and I used to say that the
Academy should have awarded him an 'A' for spectating."
Following basic Infantry training at Fort Benning,
Georgia, Tom was assigned to
Puerto Rico. While traveling back and forth
to the States to visit his family, Tom
met a Pan Am stewardess, Rachel Lamer, whom
he started dating. In 1949, Tom
transferred to the Judge Advocate General
Corps and was sent to Columbia School. Tom and Rachel Grace (Skeets) Lamer
were married in the West Point Chapel on 21 December 1949. Their
first son, John Thomas, Jr. was born in 1951. After completing his law
degree, Tom was assigned to Headquarters, Third Army at Fort McPherson,
Georgia. A second son, Stephen, was born in Georgia. Next Tom and Skeets
moved to West Point where Tom became an instructor in the Law Department.
During the summer of 1954, Tom developed bulbar polio and was kept alive
in an iron lung. He survived, but the paralysis and tissue damage sustained
would affect him for the remainder of his life. One result was a restricted
air passage which reduced his voice to a whisper. Tom never complained
about any of this: he faced his condition as he faced every hardship, with
fortitude and a smile. While at West Point. a daughter, Lucy, was born.
From West Point, the Joneses moved to Fort Bliss, Texas. This tour was
followed by assignment to Okinawa. Two additions to their family, Rachel
and Bill, were born during the Okinawa tour. In 1963, Tom returned to the
States for assignment to the Office of the Judge Advocate General in Washington,
DC. In 1967, Tom volunteered for Vietnam.
Originally slated for a staff job in Saigon,
Tom became the Staff Judge Advocate for Task Force Oregon, which was to
become the Americal Division headquartered in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Returning
to the States, Tom became the Executive Officer, US Army Judiciary in Washington.
In 1973, he was appointed to the Army Court of Military Review as a senior
judge. He served on the Court until his retirement as a colonel in l976.
Tom was immediately recalled to active duty to serve six more years on
the Court. He retired a second time in 1982 after nine years as a military
appellate judge. After a brief retirement, Tom joined the administrative
office of the United States Courts. In 1984, he was appointed Chief, Magistrates
Division. In May of 1991, Tom learned he had a brain tumor. Surgery and
radiation treatments were unsuccessful and Tom died 2 September 1991.
He is survived by his wife, Skeets; three sons,
John T. Jr., Lieutenant Colonel, Judge Advocate General Corps; Stephen,
Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Corps; William; and two daughters. Lucy and
John Thomas Jones left behind a legacy of professionalism,
wisdom, strength of
character, devotion to a set of high ideals
in every aspect of his life, and respect from all who knew him. His classmates
know what a great person he was, but it is
revealing to learn the respect and admiration
he gained from his associates in the
later stages of his career.
William S. Fulton, Jr., now the Clerk of the
U.S. Army Court of Military Review,
recalled: "Colonel John T. Jones served as
an appellate military judge on the US Army Court of Military Review for
nine years from 1973-82. The Court sits in three judge panels, and Tom
was the senior judge or presiding judge of his panel ...
It was immediately apparent that all the judges,
not just the two of us on his panel
sought his advice. We turned to him not merely
because he had researched and
written on nearly every major appellate
issue, but because he was fair and wise. Only a few judicial opinions,
selected for their contribution to the growth of the law and precedential
guidance of lawyers, judges, and staff judge advocates are published. In
all,140 of Tom's opinions were published."
James E. Macklin, Jr., Deputy Director, Administrative
office of the United States
Courts, remembered that the younger people
in the magistrates division looked to
Tom as the expert in all things. Duane R.
Lee, Chief. Court Administration Division,
was Tom's immediate superior when Tom
joined the Administrative Office. He recalled: "Most of us are lucky if
we find in our lifetime a mentor to guide us on the right path. Usually
our mentor is a particularly talented, long experienced and wise individual
who happens to be our boss. I had the great pleasure and humbling
experience to have my deputy, Tom Jones, some
20 years my senior, as my mentor. I still find myself using his techniques
for managing the office and relating to people. They have served me and
my staff well... I will always remember Tom Jones. His strength, warmth
and friendship will continue with me throughout my days."
Gary C. Petty, Tom's assistant, recalled: "...Tom
brought a razor sharp intellect and
a prodigious memory to the tasks at hand,
and focused on details without ever losing sight of the 'big picture'...
Tom always called them as he saw them, acting impartially for the good
of the federal court system. He was uniformly courteous to persons from
all walks of life, famous judges and temporary employees alike."
Tom's "course on earth is run." He leaves behind
a host of friends and admirers. His family will always treasure their memories
of a devoted husband and loving father. His classmates know that
it has been their privilege to be associated with such an outstanding example
of what a West Pointer should be.
"Well Done, Tom; Be Thou at Peace!"
'46 Memorial Article Project and his Family
10 February 2001
8 March 2003