A Life of Service to Country and Community
Don Jones knows about service. Now 89 years old, he can look back on a long distinguished career and say, “I have been blessed.” Don started life on a farm in Panola County, Texas. His father died when he was one year old and his mother had to raise two girls and four boys by herself for a time before remarrying. Don went to Prairie View A&M to begin college, but WWII and the selective service came calling on him and he was “drafted” into the Navy in 1944.
All three of Don’s brothers served during WWII. Casey was a Medic, Albert an M.P. (Military Police) and Robert was in Field Artillery. He said Robert saw the most combat of the group. Don took his basic training in Bainbridge, MD then on to New London, CT for submarine training. He then shipped out of California for the Pacific and docked in Pearl Harbor. He said it was very difficult to get used to military traditions. He served on the USS Ronquil #396 which was later used in the movie, “Ice Station Zebra.” Don was the only black man out of 92 men serving on the sub. They would go out on patrols into “enemy waters” and knew they were close to the enemy when they had to endure depth charges. Sonar was now in use by naval combatants and Don said you had to be very quiet on the sub at times to avoid enemy detection. They would put on thick socks to wear and no one was allowed to talk or move much while an enemy ship was in their area. The Ronquil sunk more than 400 tons of enemy shipping.