George W. Jones, PFC, U.S. Army, 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam KIA

There are more than 58,000 names inscribed on the Vietnam Wall, 1,208 of them from Alabama. There are 20 names on the Vietnam Wall from Covington County

The City of Andalusia and the Covington Veterans Foundation will bring the Traveling Vietnam Wall to Andalusia in the summer of 2022. Those of you who have not visited the Wall in Washington, D.C., will have the chance to see those names and perhaps, search out a relative, friend or classmate. On Panel 13e, Line 72, you will find the name of PFC George Wallace Jones, who died on December 22, 1966.

George Wallace Jones was born in Covington County, Alabama, on January 20, 1945. His parents were Willie Lee and Mattie Crittenden Jones of Red Level, Alabama. George was the ninth of twelve children. Willie was a sharecropper and the children helped on the farm as soon as they were old enough.

Woodson High School football team, 1961. George W. Jones was an outstanding running back. He is # 10 in the second row. [Photo: Taken from the 1962 Woodsonian , Woodson High School annual 1962 by Mattie Freeney].

At home and at school, George was quiet and unassuming. That’s the description given by several of his classmates at Woodson and by his surviving siblings. His sister, Mattie Jones Freeney [who provided much information to the author], recalled their home life, “Whatever my mom cooked is what we ate, and that included leftovers. George was not fond of vegetables or leftovers. I remember on one occasion, George walked in the front door and smelled peas cooking – he just continued on and walked out the back door.”

George attended Woodson High School in Andalusia, Alabama, where he was active in sports. His friends remember George as a good running back on the football team from 1961-1964. He was also an outstanding sprinter on the track team and made it to the State track meet his senior year.

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By the time George graduated from Woodson in 1964, he was tired of the hard farm life and decided to leave home. He and his brother Paul traveled to California to stay with an older brother, Willie Lewis Jones. George worked at a restaurant for about six months before he decided to join the Job Corps.

In July 1965, George traveled to Kilmer, New Jersey, and joined the Job Corps. They helped some students complete high school and taught others technical skills that would help them obtain jobs. George spent time in classes as part of the academic program and also joined the track team. The Jobs Corps in Kilmer published a paper, The Corpsman, which carried a picture of George in his track uniform and described him as an “outstanding athlete.”

George W. Jones in his track uniform at the Job Corps, Kilmer, N.J.[Photo: The Corpsman , Kilmer, N.J. Job Corps]

George stayed at Kilmer until he was drafted in May 1966. After basic training, he was able to come home on leave before going to Vietnam in October 1966. George’s family had a kind of homecoming for him. His brother, Mose remembered, “I traveled back home to see George. He was really quiet and didn’t talk much. I saw him sitting, just kind of staring at the wall. When I said something, he didn’t answer at first, like he was preoccupied. I wondered later if he had some kind of premonition.”

At the time of his enlistment, some of George’s records show his residence as California, since he had established legal residence there when he worked at the restaurant. He began his tour in Vietnam on October 27, 1966. He was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. His rate was PFC and his military specialty was listed as Indirect Fire Crewman.

There is very little information available about George Jones’ tour in Vietnam. He was killed in combat on December 22, 1966. The records indicate that he died of small arms fire, during a combat operation in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

Back in Kilmer, The Corpsman reported his death. George had corresponded with one of his former academic instructors, Miss Bernice Kaplan. She had mailed George a Christmas card and it was returned, marked “Deceased” by the post office. Miss Kaplan told The Corpsman that George’s letters had continued almost until the day he died. She recalled that he had been scared when he first arrived in Vietnam but felt very relaxed later. He told her that he planned on going to college when his tour was over. The paper stated that a sympathy card was being prepared, signed by the Corpsmen and would be sent to Jones’ parents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Lee Jones of Red Level, Alabama.

The Jones family had received the news of George’s death shortly after it happened. However, it was several weeks before he was brought home. The funeral was held at New Pilgrim Baptist Church in River Falls, Alabama, and he was buried with full military honors at Bethlehem Cemetery. Marshall Funeral Home was in charge of the services.

George Wallace Jones, PFC, United States Army, was survived by his parents, Willie Lee and Mattie Jones; sisters, Glenda Jones [Laymon] Gamble; Julia Jones; Mary Jones; Annie Jean Jones [Henry] Valentine and Mattie Jones; brothers, Lonnie [Annie] Jones; Walter Jones; Willie Lewis [Leia] Jones; Mose Jones; Paul Jones and Clarence Jones and an infant son, Robert Gregory Williams [who is now deceased].

John Vick

The author thanks Mattie Jones Freeney, Paul Jones and Mose Jones for their help in writing about their brother.

[Sources: Material provided by Mattie Jones Freeney, The Corpsman newspaper from the Kilmer, New Jersey, Job Corps].

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