In his 90 years, Lacey resident Eugene “Frank” Jones served in three major wars: World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He spent 28 years in the U.S. Army, and lived to tell the tale.
On Friday, Jones was joined by friends, family and elected officials at Tumwater Falls Park, where he was honored for his service. Scouts from the Boy Scouts of America Troop 222 of Lacey folded the American flag that flew in the park, and passed it on to State Sen. Karen Fraser.
She then presented the flag to Jones, thanking him for his service and for being a great role model.
The flag was no ordinary flag, said Bill McLaughlin, one of the event’s organizers. It has been flown in France at the Normandy American Cemetery, over the U.S. Capitol and over the Washington State Capitol. It will likely be flown next over the home Jones owns in Montesano.
According to Jones’s family, Jones enlisted in the Army in 1944, the same day he graduated from high school. He reported to basic training in Alabama, and then to Fort Benning in Georgia to become a paratrooper. Jones was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division in the Philippines, where he prepared to invade Japan. But his division never invaded because the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs.
Following an injury, Jones was assigned to Gen. Douglas McArthur in Japan, and spent 13 months there. He then became a reservist.
Jones returned to active duty during the Korean War, and was assigned to the Counterintelligence Corps. Following the Korean War, Jones trained to become a helicopter pilot. He then served in Germany and Oklahoma.
He deployed twice to Vietnam during the Vietnam War, then retired in 1972 as a Chief Warrant Officer.
Chris Panush, scoutmaster for Troop 222, said it’s important for scouts to participate in these events, as it gives them a concrete connection to history. He said the scouts have been busy this week, and have performed four flag ceremonies.
“Anytime we can do a community project like this, it’s a really great thing,” Panush said.