Geoffrey Richard Jones
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Infantry
World War II (1944-1945), Korean War (1950-1952)
2 Purple Hearts, 2 Bronze Stars,
European Theater Ribbon (3 battle stars),
WWII Victory medal, Army of Occupation Medal
Geoffrey Richard “Dick” Jones was born in Chelmsford, England, on January 21, 1922, but he grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from University of California and earning a Bachelor of Science in business administration, Jones was in the U.C. Berkley Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program for four years. He finished college, and then went directly to the Officer Candidates School in Georgia before being commissioned in 1944 as 2nd lieutenant infantry. His father had served in World War I in the British Army and wasn’t thrilled with him being in the infantry, but it was expected that one would serve anyway.
Before being sent to his first assignment, there was a ten-day delay en route between Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas. As second lieutenant, he stayed in Texas for four months and trained recruits in basic infantry. He then shipped them out to different units. His initial feelings of his first assignment were that “it was all new, and we had to pretty much set up the base and get things started and organized.” The general morale of the unit was pretty good, “considering the diversity of people,” he added. He felt h e and his fellow personnel were very effective in the war, too. His opinion of the officers was good; they were well-experienced but some had come directly from the OCS. He was able to cope with the experience of training inductees because “you had to do it; you were there, and you had a job to do, and you did it.” That was all the motivation he needed.
At the base, he lived in a bachelor officer’s quarters. Jones said that the food was like any other food at any regular mess hall, and for entertainment, he and his comrades would watch movies and spend time in the officer’s club. He was also able to communicate with his family through telephone calls and mail.
Throughout his years of service, Jones was deployed to many places. He had travelled from Texas to England to Normandy. During the Battle of Normandy, he served as a rifle platoon leader. He continued to make his way through France during the Liberation of Paris as one of the first Americans there. Jones then journeyed through Belgium into Germany. There, a motor shell hit the roof of a bunker nearby, and pieces flung into his hands, face, and feet. Thus, he was hospitalized from September of 1944 to January, 1945. On January 1, 1945, Jones was sent back to action but got wounded again in February. The second time he was injured occurred near the Rhine. He and his partners were trying to “push” to the Rhine, and while crossing a small stream, one soldier tripped on a wire. It set off a land mine underneath the ground, which exploded sideways. Jones was about fifty to sixty feet away when a piece went sailing straight through his left hip and exited from his right side. “I was one of the lucky ones,” he said, for “it got four of us.” All of these injuries earned him a second purple heart and two bronze stars, along with service ribbons for battles.
Jones came home via hospital ship in April of 1945 when World War II ended in Europe. He spent four to five months in a hospital in California then was released from active duty for a while. He was called back, though, in 1946 to serve as a recruiting officer from 1946 to 1947. Recalled in 1950 as a captain for the Korean War, Jones received two additional citations: the Korean War Service Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal, Japan.
After his release from active duty in September of 1952, Jones stayed in the reserve for a couple of years, where he officially retired as a major. He then returned home to San Francisco. He was happy to be greeted warmly by his family and friends but was not used to having to fend for himself in civilian life. In fact, it took Jones up to a year to adjust to these drastic changes.
Now adapted to civilian life, Jones needed to find a job. He pursued his father’s business in the paper and printing industry, working for companies in the manufacturing and marketing of newsprint and computer paper. He worked his way to the position of manager of technical services and remained there for the rest of his career.
Through near death experiences and trifling times, Dick Jones has been through it all. He recalls getting used to military life as the toughest part of his service. “You never knew where they wanted you or what they wanted you to do,” Jones commented on the vague instructions of his commanding officers. Actually fighting in combat proved to be more frightening. Jones remembers his scariest moment when shells were falling, and there were loud explosions nearby. “Many times I didn’t feel like I was going to make it,” he said. “The first time I was wounded, I saw my hand and said, ‘Wow, I’m wounded, and I am going to get a rest….You never get a rest; the stress is just tremendous.’”
Jones and his fellow personnel attempted to counterbalance the hardships of warfare with light jokes and positive outlooks on their service. In fact, Jones has created lasting friendships through their positive attitudes. He remained in touch with many of them, including the company commander, until their deaths. Jones considers himself lucky to still be alive.
The luck Jones had throughout his service has had an impact on his life. Besides surviving his dramatic injuries, Jones believes he was lucky to be a part of the Liberation of Paris. The joyous reactions of the Parisians that he witnessed left major impact on him. He was happy to be a part of such a powerful movement.
Overall, Jones believes that if he and the millions of soldiers who fought for America hadn’t sacrificed themselves, Americans wouldn’t be living the lives they live today. “A lot of people went over there and didn’t come back to ensure the way of life we have today,” he added.
As for his overall outlook on World War II, Jones believes “there was no glory, but it was a necessary war. We had a job to do and we did it.” And for future servers, he advises that they should “find their niche and do their best.”
The momentous events that Jones endured in war have taught him many life lessons. Jones now believes that one should live life to the fullest, stressing values of education and honesty.
All in all, Jones is grateful that he got to experience major events and movements in the war and madk it through them alive. “All I can say is that I am one of the lucky ones.”
Interviewed by Gabriella Aversa and Kathryn Khalvati on July 20, 2011.