By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Leroy Jones was 25 years old when he was drafted in to the Army in World War II.
"I hated to go 'cause I hated to leave my wife, I had a little one year-old daughter I'd have to leave and I really hated that," said Jones.
Not only was he married, but his father was counting on him to help out with their family's Belonzi farm.
"I said I couldn't go. They said, 'How come you can't go Leroy?' I said well, I got a field full of cotton, corn, hay, and oats. They said ok, we're gonna give you till the first of January," explained Jones.
After basic training, his first assignment was Honolulu, guarding an Army base. After eight months there, he moved on to Saipan. His specialty was intelligence.
"We got all the information from the enemy and we'd seek information and feed it to the Air Force and Navy."
"We were the first anti-aircraft unit in Saipan. We had two strips there put B29's there and B24's there. I got to go up in one of those planes," Jones said.
Jones would also serve at Tinian and eventually Iwo Jima. He spent a lot of time patrolling the islands. He never knew who or what he would find hiding in the caves.
"The Japanese had a cave. I bet that cave was half mile deep. They had their headquarters and hospital in that cave. And we got there and blowed it up," Jones said.
Every cave was different.
"We got a cave and I said back off, don't get too close to it right now. I knew somebody had been going in and out. I said get 'em out. If they don't, we'll have to put the flamethrower on them. Finally out came on old man, a woman, and a bunch of kids. I thank the Lord I didn't have to kill that bunch of people for nothing," Jones added.
When his commanding officer told him the war was over, Jones couldn't believe it.
"He said I'm going to send you home. I thought he was joking. I said, I'm not going, I'm going to Okinowa, just like you are," Jones remembered.
When he got home, he found his dad had sold the farm, but his wife was there waiting. They were together 63 years until she died. He is grateful to the servicemen and women who continue to fight for our country.
"I tip my hat to 'em. I thank the Lord for the veterans we have today and the sacrifice they're doing. It's all for our freedom now, the freedom you enjoy, your children enjoy. They paid for it with their lives. And we owe it all to them,' said Jones.
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street