Navy veteran takes to the sky with fellow veterans

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe
Veterans from the Kansas Honor Flight recently visited Washington D.C. where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Roger A. Jones visited Washington D.C. before. His daughter lived in the area for some time so he was able to visit the city and its military memorials.

But recently Jones went back and this time he wasn't alone.

Jones, along with 51 other veterans took the latest Honor Flight to the nation's capital.

The Kansas Honor Flight is an organization whose goal is to send Kansas veterans to Washington D.C. to visit war memorials.

Jones served active duty from 1968-1972 in the Navy. He started out with the Naval Reserve in 1963 as a freshman in college at Emporia State University.

"I finished college in the reserves and then for two summers I went officers training school in Newport, Rhode Island," Jones said to the Globe on Wednesday. "So when I got my degree I got commissioned at the same time."

From college Jones went to active duty at supply corps school in Georgia and was assigned to the USS O'Callahan DE-1051.

"It was built in Bay City, Michigan," Jones said. "I was on pre-commissioning detail."

After leaving the Navy, Jones came back to Kansas and over the last 30 years has been a member of the American Legion Post 47 in Dodge City.

Residents in Wichita greet veterans taking the recent Kansas Honor Flight where veterans are flown to Washington D.C. to visit U.S. military memorials and museums.

For the Honor Flight, Jones said they flew from Wichita to St. Louis, Missouri, to Tampa, Florida, to Washington D.C.

"I knew about the Honor Flight when it was originated," Jones said. "Back when they started it was just World War II guys. On this flight it was two Korean War veterans, the World War II guys are all gone essentially. The rest of us were Vietnam era. I'm not a Vietnam vet, I was in at that time but that's what (Honor Flight) is doing now."

When in D.C., the first stop on the visit was to the Navy Museum then to mall for the World War II memorial.

"You can walk it in any pattern but we went to the Korean memorial then the Vietnam memorial," Jones said. "Then after we got done with those we went to the Air Force memorial by Arlington (National Cemetery) and I never been there before. So after that we went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and by a whole lot of gravesites.

"We didn't go to the Naval Yard but we drove by it."

The difference for Jones visiting Washington D.C. solo compared to with fellow veterans was, "Lots of stories," he said with a laugh and his biggest takeaway from the trip being, "It was kind of impressive somebody went through all the work to put those memorials up.

"It was nice of the Honor Flight people to provide that."

Jones added that there are now only 500 people on the list for the Kansas Honor Flight.

For more information about the Kansas Honor Flight visit www.kansashonorflight.org or your local American Legion post.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com