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Joint Force Quarterly 72 (1st Quarter, January 2014)

In Memoriam

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 72

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David C. Jones

David C. Jones

General, U.S. Air Force
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
June 21, 1978 to June 18, 1982

Volunteering for the Army Air Corps shortly after Pearl Harbor, General Jones received his commission and pilot wings in early 1943. During the Korean War, General Jones flew more than 300 hours on combat missions against North Korea. In 1969, he served in the Republic of Vietnam as Deputy Commander for Operations and then as Vice Commander of the Seventh Air Force.

In August 1971, General Jones assumed command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force, was promoted to general in September, and led the way toward establishing the integrated air headquarters in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Central Region, Allied Air Forces Central Europe.

General Jones became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force in July 1974 and was responsible for administering, training, and equipping a worldwide organization of men and women employing the world’s most advanced defense systems.

On June 21, 1978, General Jones was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Chairman during the turbulent post-Vietnam years, he was a spokesman for increased defense effort—placing major emphasis on enhancing the combined capabilities of U.S. combat forces. In his last year in office, General Jones conducted an extensive examination of the systemic problems within the joint system, resulting in a proposal to make legislative changes to the National Security Act to strengthen the quality and timeliness of military advice and to improve the combined readiness and effectiveness of combat forces. This prompted the most active debate on organizational issues in defense since the 1950s when President Eisenhower proposed to strengthen the joint system.

At the time of his retirement, General Jones’s 8 years as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—4 as Air Force Chief and 4 as Chairman—were the longest in history, and uniquely he served four different Presidents and four different Secretaries of Defense during that time.

A graduate of the National War College in 1960, General Jones was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1974, an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Louisiana Tech University in 1975, and an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Minot State College in 1979.