TAGGED FOR GREATNESS
Johnnie Jones is a survivor, multiple times over, in the war and afterward.
Local WWII veteran cheated death, served country
Not many people come back from having their toe tagged for the morgue, but Fairfield Electric Cooperative member John S. Jones Jr. did just that when he was badly wounded in an accident while at Pearl Harbor and the doctors had given up on him.
“They declared me dead, but a nurse stopped them because she could see in my eyes I wasn’t dead,” says Jones, now 90. “I wish I would have gotten that nurse’s name because she saved me.”
That wasn’t the last, or even the first, time Jones dodged that toe tag. Prior to the war he survived near-fatal gangrene and peritonitis, his ship, the destroyer USS Bailey, buried 17 men at sea on its tour, and after the war Jones survived four heart attacks, a botched cataracts operation, stents placed in arteries in his chest, and a hernia operation.
Jones enlisted in the Navy a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After his accident he served on the destroyer USS Bailey 492 in the engine room and saw heavy action all over the South Pacific. What kept him going was the thought of his wife, Margaret, whom he married while on leave in 1943 and with whom he spent 67 years until she passed in April 2010. Jones took care of his wife for years when health problems left her bedridden.
“I didn’t drink, and I didn’t run with women,” he says. “I lived my vows, and the good Lord was with me all through the war and all through my life.”