Major General (ret) David “Davy” M. Jones was a Doolittle Raider, former World War II prisoner of war, and a pioneer of American aviation whose heroic and distinguished service spanned four decades. Jones was born in 1913 in Marshfield, Oregon, and attended the University of Arizona at Tucson from 1932 to 1936, where he enlisted in the Arizona National Guard. He served one year of active duty in the Cavalry prior to entering pilot training in June 1937. He then served as a pilot with the 17th Attack Group and later with the 95th Bombardment Squadron, flying a succession of aircraft including the B-18 Bolo. In early 1942, he volunteered for the Doolittle Project.
During the training phase of this project, he flew the initial evaluation flights on the B-25 Mitchell aircraft that had been specially modified for the mission. In April 1942, the Doolittle Raiders set sail aboard the USS Hornet in what would be the first strike at the heart of the Japanese homeland. Fearing the Japanese had been alerted to their presence, the Doolittle Raiders were forced to launch early adding nearly 100 miles to this already stretched flight plan. Jones piloted the number five aircraft and, after successfully attacking their target in southern Tokyo, he and his crew were forced to bail out over China. The Chinese people assisted him in returning safely to the United States. In September 1942, Jones was assigned as commander of the 319th Bombardment Group in North Africa, flying the Martin B-26 Marauder.
On December 4, 1942, he was shot down over Bizerte, North Africa, and spent two and a half years as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III. As a result of his constant agitation and harassment of the enemy, he was selected for the “escape committee.” After his liberation in April 1945, Jones was commended for his leadership among his fellow prisoners. In the years following the war, he served in numerous command and staff positions at the group, wing, numbered Air Force, and headquarters levels, to include command of the 47th Bombardment Group, flying the B-45 Tornado-the Air Force’s first all-jet bomber.
His experience in bombardment-type aircraft and previous assignments in research and development resulted in his selection as director of the B-58 Hustler Test Force, during which he participated in design speed dashes; low-level penetrations; and night, weather, formation, and in-flight refueling missions. When he was transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as vice commander of the Wright Air Development Division, Jones had flown more supersonic time testing the B-58 than any senior US Air Force pilot. His final assignments included positions as deputy chief of staff for systems at Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, deputy associate for manned space flight with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and commander of the Air Force Eastern Test Range.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart, the Yum Hwei from the Chinese Government, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal with device, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Major General Jones retired from the Air Force on 1 June 1973 and passed away on 25 November 2008 in Tucson, AZ.
Major General (ret) Jones was first selected as an Eagle by the Air Command and Staff College’s Gather of Eagles in 1992 and subsequently honored in 2005.