|WWII veteran earned several medals for bravery|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Walter Jones checks out the plaque after receiving this year’s Patriot Award Friday night at the annual Independence Day Festival. State Sen. Bill Stanley made the presentation.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Franklin County Patriot Award for 2013 was presented to Walter Lewis Jones Friday night at the Independence Day Festival.
State Sen. Bill Stanley made the presentation. This is the 10th year of recognizing a county veteran at the celebration, sponsored by the Rocky Mount Rotary Club.
Jones, 91, is a native of Rocky Mount and served in the U.S. Army in World War II.
Stanley said it was an honor to be involved in the presentation and reviewed the honoree's background.
Jones entered the Army Infantry on Dec. 30, 1942, served with the U.S. 99th Division in Fort Dix, N.J. and trained at Camp Van Dorn in Mississippi.
He was later assigned to the 85th Infantry Division, 337th Infantry Regiment, and second Infantry Battalion Company G. under Maj. Gen. John B. Coulter.
Jones arrived in North Africa on Jan. 9, 1944, where he received amphibious and mountain training.
In combat, Jones' platoon was halted by an enemy anti-tank gun when he and two others voluntarily went forward under heavy enemy artillery and automatic weapons fire and destroyed the gun crew. That act of courage earned Jones a Bronze Star for heroic achievement.
Jones received his first Purple Heart after being hit in the neck by shrapnel, which a medic removed, and Jones immediately kept going with his platoon.
A second Purple Heart was presented to him because he was shot in the right foot during combat. He was taken by ambulance to Rome and then by plane to Naples for surgery.
Upon release from the hospital, Jones was sent to Caserta, Italy, and was responsible for driving a wrecker between Rome and Caserta picking up disabled but repairable vehicles, transporting them to the motor pool.
Jones was honorably discharged as a Private First Class on Dec. 6, 1945. He received two Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, Unit Stars and combat campaign medals for his bravery under fire.
After his return to Rocky Mount, he married the former Iva Ross. The couple was married 62 years and had two children, Roger Jones and Kathy Jones Palmieri.
He now has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Jones operated a saw mill and owned a service station at the time. He then became a foreman for Ferguson Land and Lumber until he retired.
He was recently honored for 66 years of service with the American Legion.
Jones was selected for the Patriot Award by a committee of Rotary club members, headed by veteran Rol Walters.
Jones received a special Patriot Award medal at the ceremony Friday night, courtesy of Mike and Vanessa Carter of Carters Fine Jewelry.