John Thomas Jones – Colonel, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates
United 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 Rachel.

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

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