Lt Col William A Jones III


On Sept, 1, 1968, Colonel Jones, led a flight of four A-1H Skyraider aircraft on an escort mission. The flight was accompanying two helicopters sent out to rescue the pilot of an F-4 Phantom downed about 20 miles northwest of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.

Arriving over the area, Colonel Jones made several low passes across a valley to find the pilot and pinpoint enemy gun positions. On one pass, he felt an explosion beneath his aircraft and his cockpit was filled with smoke. After the smoke cleared, he continued his search and finally spotted the downed pilot near a towering rock formation. Enemy gunners occupying a position near the top of the formation opened fire on the propeller-driven Skyraider.

Colonel Jones realized that the gun position had to be destroyed before a rescue could be made and that strikes against it would endanger the survivor unless his location was known. He himself attacked with cannon and rocket fire while relaying the pilot's location by radio. While making his second pass, Colonel Jones' aircraft was hit and his cockpit was set ablaze. He sought to eject but the damaged extraction system only jettisoned the canopy without pulling him from the cockpit. At the same time his transmissions to the rescue force were being blocked by repeated calls from other aircraft that he bail out.

Before the fire died out, Colonel Jones was badly burned and his radio transmitters were disabled. He chose to return to base to report the downed pilot's exact location. Despite his severe burns, he landed his damaged aircraft safely, and insisted on passing on the vital information before receiving medical treatment. The downed pilot was rescued later that day.

The Medal of Honor was awarded to Colonel Jones for his selfless heroism, but he died in an aircraft accident in the United States before it could be presented to him. His widow received the decoration from President Richard M. Nixon at the White House Aug. 6, 1970.

full citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.