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William K. Jones oral history interview, May 25, 1976-January 28, 1977

Date: May. 25 1976 - Jan. 28 1977 | Identifier: OH0033
General Jones graduated from the University of Kansas in 1937 and was commissioned 2d Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1938. He describes his early military training, the Marine Corps in the late 1930s, and duty on the Pacific Coast. Jones tells of being transferred to the Atlantic coast prior to the outbreak of W.W. II, shore patrol at Charleston, S.C., and duty at a British base in Iceland. During interview #2 General Jones discusses his service in the South Pacific during World War II. Attention is given to duty and battle campaigns in and around New Zealand, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #33
William K. Jones
May 25, 1976
Interview #1
Interviewer is Donald R. Lennon

William K. Jones:

My first introduction to the Marine Corps occurred while I was still a student at the University of Kansas. A friend of mine who was attending the University of Colorado told meon his Christmas vacation that he had joined a New Marine Corps program called the "Platoon Leaders Class." This was in 1936. This program had originally started in 1935. He was one of the first to join. His name was Harry Frazier. I've lost track of him over the years. At that time, all of the college undergraduates that joined the program, which was a prerequisite for the program, west of the Mississippi were sent to the San Diego recruit depot. All those east of the Mississippi were sent to Quantico, Virginia. Upon the completion of two summers consisting of six weeks of training and graduation the young man was given a reserve commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves. I applied for this program primarily because I'd always been interested in the military, having completed three years in ROTC in high school where I was a cadet captain. That was Southwest High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Secondly, I had never been to California, and this sounded like a good idea and a good way to get to California.

I applied to the local Marine Corps recruiters down in the Post Office Building in Kansas City and was told that I was not eligible because Kansas University had a ROTC program and the Marine Corps was not interested in taking any people from such a university, because in those days, before the Second World War, the U. S. Army always allowed the honor graduate of each of their ROTC college units to accept a regular commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps. This is because they were not able to offer regular commissions to these gentlemen because they had sufficient input of regular officers from West Point. However, I pointed out to the Marine Corps that the University of Kansas was not a land-grant college. Kansas State University is a land-grant college. That's what they were referring to. I became the first undergraduate to be accepted in this new PLC program from the University of Kansas. The following year I took along four or five friends of mine and the following years each of them took along four or five. Eventually we had as many as twenty or thirty undergraduates going from the University of Kansas into the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC). This program is still in existence in the Marine Corps and is one of our principle sources of procurement of Marine reserve officers.

I attended the PLC program in the summers of 1936 and 1937. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 1937 and then I went to finish my second six weeks. In April of 1938 I was commissioned a reserve 2nd lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps. At that time I had a job as a teller in the First National Bank in Kansas City, because there was no opening for me in the Marine Corps on active duty at that time. In



1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a Limited National Emergency. I received an air mail letter from the Marine Corps headquarters which was sent to all reserve Marine officers those days asking if we would be interested in coming on active duty for six months because of this declaration. I'm not positive of these figures, but there were less than 200 reserve officers in the Marine Corps. Of that number, some 160 of us answered in the affirmative and reported into Quantico, Virginia, in September of 1939.

We were supposed to undergo six months of training which would be roughly the equivalent of what is known to this day as "The Basic School" where all officers regardless of whether or not they come from West Point, Annapolis, universities, the ranks, from the PLC program, or the NROTC programs, they are all sent to be taught the trade of Marine officers. The Basic School in those days was in Philadelphia, where it had been located since shortly after the First World War. The course was shortened before we hardly got started to three months, and eventually it was shortened to six weeks. We just barely had our uniforms back from the tailors when our course was completed. We completed our course in November of '39 and were assigned to the Fleet Marine Forces. Part of us went to San Diego, and part of us stayed in Quantico.

In those days the Fleet Marine Force consisted of the 5th Marine Regiment, an infantry regiment, plus one battalion, the 1st Battalion of the 10th Marines which was an artillery regiment. In San Diego, there was the 6th Marine Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Marines which was also an artillery regiment. These were very small reinforced regiments of two battalions a piece. They were infantry battalions under strength in today's numbers because in 1939 the Marine Corps consisted of approximately 17,800 total strength of which less than 1500 were officers. Those assigned to the FMF made up the bulk of those 1500. The rest of them were assigned to various headquarters, duties, supply depots, recruit depots, or base commands running those two bases. Those were the only two bases we had.

We spent 1940 training out on the West Coast. We had two ships, the one on the West Coast and two transports called APA's today. As I recall the one on the East Coast was called the NEVILLE. The CHAUMONT was the Pacific one and a very old one at that. Our landing craft was the Navy whale boat which had gunnels which stood a good six to seven feet off the water. The technique was to roll over the gunnel into the water with your pack and your rifle and storm the beaches. Our landing exercises in those days off the CHAUMONT were conducted in a very formal style.

We wore what we called field scarves, in other words, neckties. The officers' uniforms in those days were breeches, riding breeches with boots or fatigues. We had the old World War I helmets, the skimmers. We always had to land in gas masks because of the worry of World War I lessons. The enlisted men wore the same thing except that they wore the canvas leggings instead of the fatigues or the boots. We had the bolt operated 1903 Springfield Rifle which was used in World War I. The post life was very very small. Everyone from 2nd lieutenant to general knew everyone else and their families.

On a normal training day we would report early. By early, I mean around seven-thirty, and shine our leather. We wore Sam Brown belts. At 8 o'clock we'd fall out in front of the barracks for morning colors, with our commands. After morning colors, we would then have a half hour of close-order drills. Then,



we would carry out the training schedule of the day which would consist of such things as map reading, scouting, patrolling, naval law, field fortifications, defense against the gas attack, things of this type.

Once a week we would take a ten to fifteen mile hike out in to the countryside of San Diego from what is still the recruit depot. Every Friday afternoon we would have a parade to which the public was invited. After the parade, the officers and their families and the bachelors and their dates would retire to the commissioned officers' mess for what was known as "The Parade Tea." The reason they called it that is because there always was a table with two of the wives one at each end, . . . one serving tea and the other serving coffee, to give some dignity to the proceedings. Very few people drank tea or coffee because that was the start of the weekend. The main activity was in the bar and it would continue on into the evening in which the bachelors would usually take their dates out to dinner or have dinner there at the club which was fine. Every Saturday night, there was a formal dance and you wore your uniform suitable to the time of the year. You wore your semi-dress uniform with ribbons not medals. These were always very well attended. On Sunday, there was always sort of a buffet supper that people attended. The social life of an officer rotated around the commissioned officers' mess in this very small, close community. I think that was probably true of all the services prior to World War II. The same held true for the non-commissioned officers. They had their own club which was every bit as nice, and they had the same general routine. After the parades on Fridays, they would all adjourn with their ladies to their club and they would have their dance on Saturday night and so forth. The enlisted men, the non-rated men, had their own club, of course, but normally their social life rotated out in the town of San Diego. From time to time--maybe four times a year, certainly on the Marine Corps birthday on November 10th, and usually around Christmas time or New Year's, and usually in the spring-- the command would schedule dances for the enlisted men and for them to bring their wives. But, very few were married in those days. It was against the law. You couldn't be married for one thing. But, they would bring their dates, and would have a big dance in the gym or something.

There was quite a lot of interest in horseback riding. I never enjoyed it that much. Many times as a lieutenant I lived in horror of being caught at the club by Commanding General Barney Vogel of the Fleet Marine Force. He was a brigadier general and he loved to ride and he also liked to party and was a lot of fun. But, if you stayed too late after the dance . . . .We used to sing a lot of songs in those days, military songs and popular songs. We would fantasize that we were harmonizing I presume. He would get your name and say, "Alright, I'll meet you at the stables at nine o'clock in the morning and we'll go riding." As a 2nd lieutenant you did not dare not show up, although as a Roman Catholic I always had to go to early mass because of that. With a hangover and getting up early after we got rid of our stint with riding over the boondocks at a fast gallop with the General, we would end up on the beach at La Jolla Cove with our dates, and recuperate. That was our normal Sunday or weekend social activity.

That went on until the spring of 1941 when we received orders. The 6th Marine Regiment was reinforced by a battalion of anti-aircraft guns, a Base Defense Battalion as they were called in those days, was formed into the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade. We had orders to sail through the Canal and to be prepared to take Martinique Island. By this time the Nazis had overrun Europe and France. Our government was concerned that the Vichy French would take over Martinique and let the Germans use it as a submarine base of the Caribbean and Southern Atlantic. So, we took our khakis (our tropical



uniforms). The bachelors took all of their uniforms because they had no place to store them. Only the married men could store their winter uniforms at home. They just took their tropic uniforms, their whites and their khakis. The enlisted men simply had their khakis.

We loaded up and went through the Panama Canal at night because the mission was very secretive. We had to keep the men below decks and we had to go through the Canal late at night.

Donald R. Lennon:

What were you on then?

William K. Jones:

We were on the old- CHAUMONT as far as I remember. Maybe, it was another transport, but I'm not sure. We got on the Atlantic side of the Canal and we had a change of orders. We weren't told where we were going but it was up north.

We put into Charleston, South Carolina, to pick up our winter uniforms. They loaded us with heavy green uniforms. The officers just wore the regular enlisted green. We had parkas; winter sleeping bags and winter gear. We winterized all the motor vehicles. They had to take them off so we had to stay there a week or 10 days, as I recall.

Unfortunately, at the same time, the 1st Marine Division which operated out of Quantico in those days, had just finished their regular maneuvers down in the Caribbean. They were back into Charleston for a port visit leave for the fleet. We had this sleepy little southern city overrun with sailors and marines. There are some very amusing stories that happened there. This was my first assignment to Shore Patrol duty. I was a Marine 2nd lieutenant and the shore patrol commander was a Navy commander. The second-in-command was a Navy full lieutenant, two stripes, and then there was an ensign as well as myself. We were the two junior officers. We set up the shore patrol in the Charleston Police Station. They just turned over the sergeant's desk to the Shore Patrol commander and loaned us their paddy wagon. There was absolutely nothing to do in Charleston for a bunch of young men. There was no night life. Prostitution was outlawed! But they could get something to drink. Prohibition was over by then. Once an hour we would go out in a paddy wagon and we'd pick up these marines and sailors who had passed out on the town square and we would load them in like cardboard and take them back to the station house. When they got sobered up we'd find out what ship they were off of and then we'd separate them. We'd take them as a group down to the dock and get them out on the ship. What we were trying to do was to keep them out of trouble, not arrest any of them, just take care of them.

There were some times that they would just sit on the side of the street and just look at nothing. Somebody put out the word that we heard this woman frantically screaming from a second story window because there was a line of marines and sailors about a block and a half long. Someone had said that she was a whore . . . and she wasn't. She was scared to death! Just before I went off duty an amusing thing happened. The relief commander was up talking to my commander about ten minutes to eight. Relief was supposed to be from about eight in the morning. It was an eight to eight twenty-four hour watch. A woman came in. She was nicely dressed and she was obviously very irate. She said, "Who's in charge?"



Of course both of the commanders pointed to each other. Then they looked up at the watch and my commander still had the duty. It was five minutes to eight by then so he said, "Well, I am. What's the problem madam?" She said, "Well, I live out in the finest residential district of Charleston." This was in June, as I said, and it was very hot. This was before the days of air conditioning. She said, "I had my screen door latched, my screen door and my front door latched, and I was up-stairs in my bed reading. About ten o'clock a Marine came to my door, and he pounded on the door and he wanted to come in. I wouldn't let him come in. He tore down the screen door and he came upstairs and he got undressed, and he got in bed with me. Now, I want a new screen door, and I want it right now!!!"

Of course, as this story was unfolding we thought, My God, we've got a rape case at this last minute, and that would have probably meant that the four officers, Navy and Marine, that had the watch would have to stay in Charleston to testify in a court-martial. We'd have to lose our command and we'd have to leave the fleet and we were just about ready to die when she said, "I want a new screen door right now."

My commander said, "Well, how much would it cost? Would twenty dollars cover it?" And she said, "Oh yes." He slipped a twenty dollar bill in her hand so fast you'd be amazed. That took care of the complaint, but the problem was that the sailors and Marines who had listened to this thing started coming up and saying, "What's your address, Baby?"

We were trying to keep them quiet so we wouldn't aggravate her and have her press charges against us. She went away happy. That was the end of the incident. That was my first experience with Shore Patrol duty.

We loaded up and set sail and we went and put into Newfoundland for about twenty-four hours to let the fleet take on some fresh water and everything. We went ashore for just a short time, not much. We were told around that time that our destination was Iceland. We started being briefed on Iceland. This was right after REUBEN JAMES, the destroyer, was sunk, before we actually got into the war.

We were very concerned because we passed over the graveyard of the HOOD. The HOOD had been sunk by the “pocket battleship” at that time in the North Atlantic. Iceland was defended by the British. All the men they had up there were survivors of Dunkirk. Many of them were still bandaged up and wounded. They were worn out. There was great concern in our government and the British government that the Germans would take Iceland as a submarine and air base. That would then put them in a position to really strangle the vital lifeline between this country and Britain in those very dark hours.This brigade was sent up there to reinforce the British. We were under the command of a British major general named Curtis whom we were very fond of. He'd come out and he'd play baseball and enter into the Marine baseball games and things like that. We landed on the beach. There were no docks in Reykjavik that could handle our heavy gear. We made a regular assault landing. The British had various camps set up for us. They were turned over to us. We lived in what they called a Nissen hut which was the forerunner of what we later called a Quonset hut. We copied it. Ours was just more of a sophisticated model. We banked them three feet high because of the high winds up there and to help insulate them. We were spread out a battalion in a camp.



Every Sunday morning a German airplane, a reconnaissance aircraft, would fly over. We were not allowed to fly our American Flag because of that. The British would not allow our anti-aircraft boys to shoot at this plane. They said the reason for it was that they shot at him once and he got mad and came down and shot back at them and killed one of their men. They didn't see any sense in shooting at him. So, we were not allowed to shoot at him.

We stayed up there a while. For social life we sang every night at dinner. There was some dating of the Icelandic girls but our battalion commander, Oliver Prince Smith (O.P. Smith), didn't believe that it was wise to let us bring Icelandic girls to camp because of the security problems. There were a lot of Nazi sympathizers out there. But they were beautiful women and handsome men . . . very handsome race of people. Smith later retired as a lieutenant general and had command as a major general of the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir. He did such a tremendous job of bringing his division out. A very fine gentleman! It was interesting.

We stayed there and then we got word that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. We heard about it when we were playing poker. We used to play penny-ante poker many nights in the officer's hut. Our officers all lived seven men to a hut.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was there anything of a morale problem?

William K. Jones:

No, we didn't have a bit of a morale problem. That just shows you that we kept the men busy and then we got word after Pearl Harbor. It was about ten o'clock at night when somebody came in and said, "The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor." We rushed over to the radio shack. We were worried about the Marines on Wake Island. Colonel Smith said at that time, "Well, we can't save them." He's a very brilliant man and he explained why. He added, "They'll just have to hold out as long as they can." Of course he turned out to be prophetic. Later on we got word that the Army was going to send units up to relieve us. This was in the spring of '42, April, I think. We had to build some camps for them. They were sending up additional people. We had a project for two or three months building more of these Nissen huts. I had charge of one of those for my battalion because I'd been in the construction trade before I came on active duty. After I left the bank, I went into construction, the building industry. Two other college fraternity brothers and I went in business together. We used the assembly line approach.

So we built these huts just using a few hammers and using an aiming circle for a level and we ended up building sixteen huts a day which was better than the Royal Engineers could build. They used to come and watch our method because we could build them so much faster than they could. That kept the men occupied because we had all of them in some crew. Each one of them was doing something. This helped because then we set up competitions between battalions as to who built the most huts and between companies who built the most huts. Then the men themselves between crews. They'd have maybe one hammer per hut, but they'd have Marines on each side and they'd drive nails and holler then toss it over the top. A Marine would catch it, knock nails in there and holler and toss it back over. That's just how they did it. It kept them busy and taxed their ingenuity. The Army then started to arrive. We had to have fires already built and the huts were heated by one potbellied stove. They had one potbellied stove. We used to boil our water on it to wash our clothes in it and keep it warm during the daytime. At night you'd



bank it. We'd take turns in the morning as to who had to get up in the cold. We had outside sanitary facilities, and they would use the old honey buckets like they have in the Far East. Under contract, the Icelandic men would come in and take the night soil away. They would build our showers where the hot springs and the cold springs met. So, you'd have hot and cold running showers. Of course in the hot water the odor of sulfur was very heavy. It came from the hot springs. These were natural springs.

We used to go in Reykjavik on liberty sometimes. The best meal you could get there was pony steak, and that was very stringy. They didn't have any beef. Our fare consisted of fish and some sort of mutton because they had a lot of sheep there. We had to eat the British fare.

Donald R. Lennon:

No American food?

William K. Jones:

No.

We belonged to their NAAFI (Navy, Army, Air Force Institute) which was equivalent to our Post Exchange system. We got our liquor from that. We did have some Post Exchange (PX) supplies- -American toothbrush and toothpaste and soaps. Of course it was a very tedious and tiresome diet. I remember once when I was a mess officer of hearing a Marine come through the chow line and saying, "What do we have tonight?" The cook that was there dishing it out said, "Well, we have four choices. We have mutton, Iamb, sheep, or ram. Which would you like?" So the Marine said, "Well, let's see. I had mutton last night and ram the night before. I think I'll have sheep tonight."Well, it was the same damn thing of course all the way down the line. We'd go over to the British Officer's club sometimes.

They taught us to play a bunch of their games. They were great for playing very rough games. In fact, there were some times when their parties would get so boisterous that some of the British officers would climb up and drop a third of a stick of dynamite down the stove pipe which would catch the hut on fire. This happened on two or three occasions. They'd all grab the bottles from the bar and go out and sit in the snow and sing a song and watch it burn down. This would have been their officer's club. They'd build another one the next day. They were pretty rough. You know they had been fighting for some time and were the survivors of Dunkirk. Boy, they were glad they were alive!

We loaded up and I was put in charge as a 2nd lieutenant to load our transport. What I knew about loading was nothing. Well, I had to load it going up there too, that's right. So, I just learned by experience, but it wasn't a very fine art in those days like it is now. I learned a lot about it. We loaded up and we came back to the States in the spring of '42. About half of us were let off on the East Coast in New York. They put in there to replenish and then the rest and all the equipment was taken by train across country back to San Diego. We were given two weeks leave to travel out there. When we got out to San Diego, the boys who had selected to have their leave on the West Coast, both officers and enlisted men, then took their leave on the West Coast.

Donald R. Lennon:

I bet it was good to get that first American meal?



William K. Jones:

Oh, it was outstanding! Of course, we were bachelors and four of us traveled cross-country and had the time of our lives. Some of us got married on the way out. We rejoined and had a great reunion in San Diego.

In December of '41 I made 1st lieutenant and in May of '42 I made captain.

Donald R. Lennon:

December of '41 1st lieutenant and May of '42 captain?

William K. Jones:

Yes, that's right. We were cadreand they were forming new regiments like mad. Each battalion had to send one platoon to another regiment. Each company had to send one platoon to another regiment. My platoon stayed in the 1st battalion 6th Marines. That's the battalion I joined in 1939. I commanded it the last two years of W. W. II and I left it in August of 1945. So, I was in that one battalion from 2nd lieutenant to lieutenant colonel six years. The remainder of my resume will be dealing with my activities in that one battalion.

[End of Part 1]



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #33
William K. Jones
July 14, 1976
Interview #2

William K. Jones:

I was in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines which in Marine Corps jargon means the 1st Battalion of the 6th Regiment of Marines. I was assigned to the newly formed 2nd Marine Division which was formed out on the West Coast at Camp Elliott which is just outside the city of San Diego. We trained there in that training area which is no longer in the service. It was used for years during the 2nd World War. This was prior to the time that the Marine Corps had acquired Camp Pendleton at the Santa Margarita Ranch, California.

We trained at Camp Elliott and also had forced marches up to Del Mar. We were billeted in the race track there. Bing Crosby turned over the use of the track. The stalls were all cleaned out and the men were billeted in the stalls. They were, of course, full of high spirits. There were three or four of them to a stall. They would whinny and call themselves the "Man of War" and what have you. The officers all slept on canvas bunks up in the Jockey Club. We then would go down each day to train in rubber boats on the beaches of Del Mar and then we marched back. Each battalion did that in the 2nd Division which was composed of the 6th Marines and the 8th Marine Regiment which was in Samoa when the Second War started. The 2nd Marine Regiment was formed up in California and sent out attached to the 1st Marine Division which was formed at Quantico, Virginia, under General Vandegrift who led them into Guadalcanal, which was the first American ground offensive of the Second War after Pearl Harbor. The 8th Marines then were sent after they had been brought up to strength and equipped from Samoa to join the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. Each of these regiments had their supporting battalion of artillery which in the 2nd Division was the 10th Marines as did the 6th Marines which we were forming up.

While we were forming to go to Guadalcanal ourselves, was the time that I mentioned in our first interview that we had to send certain cadres from each company and from each battalion to form the 9th Marines and the 3rd Marines which were being formed into the 3rd Marine Division under the command of General Lem Shepherd. He was not a general then. He formed the 9th Marines or 9th Regiment and the 3rd Marine Division. I don't know who had it at that time.

We departed from San Diego. Once again I was assigned the job of loading the battalion. I had to load the battalion as a 2nd Lieutenant out of Iceland. That was interesting. Then by the time we left for Guadalcanal, I was a captain. I had to load it then, although I protested that 2nd lieutenants were supposed to have the job. Then when we got to Guadalcanal, I made major and I had to load it again as a major. I thought I'd be loading ships until I was a general officer, but I finally got out of it after being a



major. But, in those days while everyone was promoted so quickly, there was a certain amount of hesitancy about letting people learn by making mistakes. Time didn't allow for people to learn by making mistakes.

We departed for New Zealand, as I recall, in the fall of 1943. We went over all in one ship . . . the Matsonian ship the LURALIE. The whole 6th Regiment reinforced went aboard the ship which was still completely manned by their civilian crews although there were mess lines, "chow lines," for the enlisted men. The officers ate in the dining rooms. They had the same very elaborate menus that you could choose your meals. The officers slept in the cabins although they had put in tiered bunks so we'd sleep six and eight officers in a stateroom. We still had stateroom stewards. I remember as young officers we were talking to the steward and asking him how much money he made, what was his combat pay that the maritime people got and going into the danger zone like New Zealand, which wasn't attacked of course. It turned out that he was drawing as much monthly salary as the colonel that commanded our regiment. That sort of distressed us.

We were not combat loaded. We landed in this big liner after a very long cruise from San Diego to New Zealand. As I recall, it took almost a month to get there, because I don't recall us putting in at any other place. Our destination and our point of debarkation was Wellington, New Zealand, which is of course the capital.

We were assigned to some camps that had been vacated by the New Zealand Army outside of Wellington about ten or fifteen miles at a place called Paekakariki. There we trained and got ourselves back into physical condition after the voyage. We started preparing our vehicles and supplies for combat loading on the naval vessels to go on into Guadalcanal. We did our training on a sheep ranch near by the camp. We spent about a month in shaking down and repacking and getting ready to go.

We were aboard ship on New Year's Day and made a covered landing on beaches held by the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal in early January shortly after New Year's. We were assigned . . . at that time the 2nd Marine Division Headquarters landed also, and the 8th Marines who had been there before us and the 2nd Marines who had been there from the very start with the 1st Division were brought back under the command of the 2nd Marine Division. We operated for the first time in the war as the 2nd Marine Division.

We were assigned a section of beach near the coastline on the Matanikau River and relieved the 2nd Marines on that line because they were in very poor physical condition. They were malarial-ridden. They had been in the lines for so long and they were eaten up with malaria and jaundice, and we relieved them and they were taken back aboard ship and moved back to New Zealand for rehabilitation. Shortly after they were moved back, the 8th Marines were relieved by us also since we had a full strength regiment of all fresh men, and they were moved back to New Zealand. The 1st Division was pulled out of there and was relieved by Army units that had started to arrive shortly after we did.

I remember our orders were to advance forward and clean out the rest of the Japanese. We patrolled. We had some ambushes and some casualties, but on the whole, our casualties were comparatively light . . . the Japanese were pretty well defeated by then. They too were malarial-ridden and they were still



attempting to send in replacements. We simply pushed on to clean out the island: In so doing, we ran into mostly sick Japanese. Some that weren't so sick. They would set up ambushes. We had a few losses. But on the whole we didn't have any major counterattack.

I remember a humorous incident when finally we were relieved entirely. The Army took over the command of Guadalcanal under General Bonesteel. We were the last marines to leave Guadalcanal. So, when the Army relieved us up in the line, there had been Japanese planes coming over and they would sound the air raid alarm although the plane didn't do very much. It was mainly reconnaissance but our marine fighters were still there. The Corsairs would go up and chase them away. The Japanese had one long range field piece up in the hills that they used to periodically let loose with. When our army troops came up to relieve us, why we were amazed with all their equipment. We didn't have the new M-1 like they had. We still had the old World War I 0-3 Springfield plus a new gun--a Reising it was called, but it wasn't very trustworthy. It was a submachine gun. We had been eating nothing but C-Rations for weeks. Well, the Army came up and they had their field kitchens. The first thing that we saw them break out was some chocolate covered donuts. Well, some marine sounded the air alarm, and of course all these being "green troops" wanted to know what that was. The marine said, "You've got to get into the fox hole. There is an air raid going." Well, they jumped in the fox hole, and when they got back out, all the donuts were gone, of course, and all the hot chow, which made this Army colonel infuriated, naturally. I happened to be standing by my colonel when he demanded that his noon meal be replaced, which was done by my colonel just pointing at a big stack of C-Rations.

We loaded up over the beach. I remember that I had to climb those cargo nets with a transport pack. Transport pack is what we call packs which have a lower part on them in which you can carry your extra shoes and your extra everything. They had a blanket role over the top. I was a Captain by this time, and it turned out that I had become infected with jaundice. I just barely climbed that cargo net. I didn't think I could make it to the top I was so weak. I was in the "sick bay" of the ship all the way to New Zealand, and then in the Army Field Hospital there, as were many of us with jaundice or malaria. In fact, although I had jaundice, I was only one of two officers in my whole battalion (we're talking in terms of twenty-five or twenty-eight officers) that didn't have malaria. Why, I don't know.

Donald R. Lennon:

Guadalcanal wasn't the most healthy place for several reasons.

William K. Jones:

There was a lot of what we called "jungle rot" which was a fungus disease of the skin. Out of the battalion a good seven or eight hundred men out of nine hundred had malaria to some degree. A lot of them had to be evacuated back to the States.

Donald R. Lennon:

What were they using in the treatment, primarily quinine?

William K. Jones:

Yes, once you contracted it. The prophylactic we took was atabrin. It was a very difficult thing to get the men to take atabrin because there were rumors that went around, just like there have been in every war, that atabrin would make you sterile. Other men hoped they got malaria because they thought maybe that would get them back to "home and honey" and the States. So, we used to line them up and pop the pill in their mouth and be darn sure that they took it. You were supposed to use mosquito netting at night where you slept. And, you were to wear gloves and use repellent. We had all these



things, and I followed all these things during the war, and I didn't get malaria during the war at all. I think if everyone was a little more cautious, we could have cut down more on it. But you know how men are tired and so forth up on the lines there.

That is the only time that I've grown a beard and been very uncomfortable, but we didn't have enough water to do such things as wash. We just had enough water to brush our teeth and to drink. It was extremely difficult to get fresh water. We all had beards and were dirty. That is probably why I got jaundice. It was impossible unless you got down to a river which was a great treat. We would set up our security and take turns bathing and washing our clothes and so forth. There were some battles while we were still there but they were relatively small when compared to Edson at Bloody Ridge in the beginning.

We got back to New Zealand then and, of course, having been there for a month before we went over, we had made our contacts, all of us being bachelors. We had our young ladies there. When the 8th Marines and the 2nd Marines went back there, they of course moved in. It was the same old deal when the enlisted men went ashore. As you know, the NCO's and the officers in the Marine Corps have a broad red stripe up their blue trousers whereas the privates have plain blue trousers. For many, many years it has always been the deal where the privates would go ashore and the girls would have asked them about that red stripe, and they'd say that means that that guy has venereal disease. That would always make it difficult for the NCO's and the officers to get a date for awhile.

The 6th Marines won the Fourragere in the First World War as did the 5th Marines, who fought in France. The 5th Marines therefore were assigned to the 1st Division, and we were in the 2nd Division as I mentioned. So, we were the only regiment that wore the Fourragere on our green uniform. When we got back we found that the 2nd Marines and the 8th Marines had put out the word that Fourragere meant that we had venereal disease. It took us a little trouble to get reestablished with the young ladies in the area. On the whole, we went back to our same camps and we got a lot of replacements in from the States.

We spent about the next six months in training and refitting. We were getting our combat efficiency back, getting our equipment back into shape, and making plans for the next deal which was to be Tarawa. During this time, I had been promoted to major, and I was number two in command of the battalion . . . the executive officer of the 1st Battalion of 6th Marines.

We were then planning for Tarawa. Our commanding general by then was Major General Julian Smith, and our chief of staff was Colonel "Red Mike" Edson. Our assistant division commander was General Dutch Hermley. My regimental commander was Colonel Maurice Holmes who won the Navy Cross fighting the bandits at Nicaragua.

Our regiment was assigned to go in as the division reserve into Tarawa. The 2nd Marine Division was the only division involved at Tarawa. The plan was for the 2nd Regiment and the 8th Regiment to land abreast, each with two battalions and one reserve battalion holding the 6th Marines in reserve to be committed depending upon what the battle situation called for. We had a rehearsal in New Zealand at a beach which was in no way similar to Tarawa. But this was done to get our loading and unloading



rehearsed and as part of the cover plan for the operation. We thought we were going to put back in to Wellington. We all had our social plans made with the girls to do so, but we never got off ship again. Right after the rehearsal, we kept going until we got to Tarawa, because there was a lot of spying from the Japanese through their sources of information.

Donald R. Lennon:

What kind of landing craft were you using?

William K. Jones:

In all the regiments in those days the First Battalions were designated as the rubber boats battalions, so I was in a transport that was somewhat smaller than the normal ones. I had taken over command of the battalion. My battalion commander, Lt. Col. John Easley, much to his distress, was selected to go to the big island of Hawaii and to prepare the camp for the division to return to after Tarawa. We were not to go back to New Zealand as we were all hoping we would. So, I was given command of the battalion as a major and given another major as executive officer more junior to me. So, the whole battalion practiced rubber boat landings.

We stayed aboard the ship, and on the way up to Tarawa put in on some of the islands along there, Noumea for instance, and moved on in for the landing. We knew nothing about the LVT which was used for the first time at Tarawa.

We had observers from all the services spread out through the division. It turned out later that they were already starting to plan the Normandy Invasion. They were very interested in the naval gunfire and the air bombardment.

At the same time, my older brother Jim, James L. Jones, who was junior to me, because he came into the Marine Corps after I did, had command of the fleet marine force reconnaissance company at that time. It was later expanded to a battalion. He landed off of a submarine, the old NAUTALIS, on Apamama at the same time we landed on Tarawa. He also checked out some of the smaller islands around Tarawa. They ran into about twenty or thirty Japanese, but they didn't suffer any casualties.

I won't go into Tarawa, that is well written except as far as my battalion's part of it is concerned. On D-Plus One the situation was still pretty hairy, because in landing there was a pocket of Japanese in between the 8th Marines and the 2nd Marines. They were right by the Burns Philip Pier. One battalion of the 2nd Marines under Lt. Colonel Woody Kyle by D-Plus One had pushed across the air strip which ran lengthwise of the island. But that was as far as they could go, because they were worn out and had suffered very heavy casualties in getting across there and in just getting ashore. Colonel Jim Crowe's battalion had managed to seize the area in between the airfield and the beach where they had landed in the lagoon. They had not gotten up to the west end of the airfield. Then east of him, there was a pocket of Japanese and then the 2nd Marines had been pretty well shot-up and fragmented in their landing and the survivors, about two battalions, had ended up on what was called "green" beach which ran clear across that west end of the island. Major Mike Ryan, a major general now still on active duty, did not have command of any of the battalions but managed to organize the survivors and started pushing along the beach. They went along and wiped out a big battery of coastal guns (two eight-inch guns) that the Japanese had captured in Singapore. They were about eight-inch guns, two of them. They took care of those with the help of naval gunfire. But it was secure. I was called to the command ship and told to



land on the narrow east end of the island behind the Japanese in my rubber boats. The two other rubber boat battalions of 2nd and 8th Marines had already been committed. I was just going down the cargo net to go back to my ship to issue the necessary orders when I was called back because they had just gotten word that Major Mike Ryan had secured about 100 yards inland on the west section of the beach. So, they told me to go in over "green" beach which was fortunate, for when we finally did see this eastern beach that I had started to go in on it was heavily mined, and we would have had very heavy casualties.

As it was, we had to traverse a reef for about a thousand yards from the beach in the rubber boats. The technique was that the landing craft, the Higgins boats, would tow us up to the reef's edge. They would tow about four rubber boats and then we'd cast off and start paddling. We started landing at 1800 hours on D-Plus One day. It was just dusk. I was in my little raft with six other Marines paddling and it was a very difficult feeling to describe, because there was my battalion spread out practically from horizon to horizon. We must have had 150 rubber boats and I had no more control. You know with the "paddle speed" we just paddled and hoped for the best. We did have radio communication with each other. But that was all the control I had.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you under very much fire at that time?

William K. Jones:

No, we didn't get any fire whatsoever--thanks to Major Ryan securing that part of the beach. It was dark by the time that we got ashore. The only casualties we had were my two supply LVT's that had the resupply of ammunition and medical gear and so forth. They tried to come in over the reef and one of them made it okay, but another one hit a mine and was turned completely over and only one man lived out of that. He had his legs broken. We got him ashore and put him in the other LVT which had gotten ashore because that was the safest place being armored-plated.

We got organized and had orders to jump off in the morning and attack that area up toward Kyle, who had gone across the island to the east of us. Mike Ryan had managed to get a couple of tanks. He was an old friend of mine, so he agreed to let me have the tanks if I promised to give them back to him later on, which I never did. In fact, they were taken away from me by higher authorities for they needed them, as there were not that many tanks on the island. But they were invaluable to have when I jumped off next morning.

That night, we had an air raid. It was the first real air raid that I had ever been under. You could hear them coming down. It was kind of scary. They knew exactly where we were on that beach, because they bombed right along the beach. We had very few casualties, some wounded but we didn't have anyone killed. We were dug into the sand. One of the bombs hit this LVT that we had put this survivor of the other LVT in and blew him right out of it. That is all it did except scare the hell out of him of course. He allowed as how he didn't want any more of the war, and we agreed. We sent him out to the ship and then to home after that one.

We did evacuate our wounded then by rubber raft because the reef on the other side was still under fire from this pocket of Japanese that was between me and the 1st Battalion of 8th Marines commanded by an officer by the name of Larry Hayes.



Donald R. Lennon:

How did they get those tanks ashore over the reefs?

William K. Jones:

They got them in at high tide in an LCN over the southern lagoon part of "green" beach. They were light tanks. They were not what we call the medium tanks which you might say are similar to our M-48 or M-60. They would be called a heavy tank back in those days. These were very light tanks, but they packed a good wallop, and of course, they were armored. The combination of those two tanks and flame throwers and demolition is the regular attack against a fortified position that they are still teaching down in the Marine Corps schools today. We've used these in all the wars . . . even Viet Nam. The technique, the smoke grenade, then the charge of explosives, then the flame thrower and we'd start advancing against these pill boxes. We met very stiff resistance. As I moved to the east on one side of the airfield, Larry Hayes moved to the west, exactly opposite, on the side of the airfield closest to the original landing on the lagoon side. Mike Ryan held his line. I passed through him, and Hayes attacked towards him. I was attacking towards Wood Kyle who had 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. It was the most unusual tactics that I ever heard of. It was all that could be done to wipe out the Japanese. About every three yards, there was a pillbox or a dugout made out of bamboo logs covered with sand and concrete. We just blasted our way up there and had some casualties. I lost a company commander and a couple of other officers, some men, but nothing to compare with what the other battalions had suffered. We were fresh. We passed right on through Wood Kyle when we got to his battalion and relieved him.

We then set up, and I had to take two of my companies and send across the airfield and relieve Jim Crowe who had the 2nd Battalion of 8th Marines for they had suffered very heavy casualties. We were three company battalions in those days. I had my battalion stretched out then with two companies on one side of the airfield near the lagoon and one company on the side of the airstrip across from it. I stayed on the weak side with my headquarters and my mortar platoon. I formed up a reserve company out of my mortar platoon and my headquarter cooks and bakers and administrative people because I knew that I didn't have any reserve at all, since I was ordered to put all three companies on the line. We covered the airfield; there weren't any troops on that., Of course we covered it with machine gun fire. We weren't too worried about that.

That night . . . this is D-Plus Two night . . . on my side of the airfield we could hear the Japanese getting up a banzai attack. We did have a battalion of light artillery ashore, pack Howitzers we got ashore floating on rubber rafts and on some of the LVT's. They could be disassembled and carried on pack mules. This battalion of the 10th Marines got ashore with Colonel F. Rixey in command of it. I had him in support. All the other battalions then had been pulled back and my battalion was holding the front line. I could hear them starting up the banzais like we used to hear them in Guadalcanal. I had a destroyer in direct support and I got him firing to within about five hundred yards of my front lines. He gave me plenty of illumination with illuminating shells. I had Colonel Rixey.

As the attack started building up, the Japs came in and managed to penetrate the company that I had in front of me. So, I brought the artillery to within seventy-five yards of my front lines. Then, I committed my mortar platoon, my reserve, my mortar platoon and headquarters company and they drove the Japanese out. This was about ten o'clock at night when they started. We drove them off then. Then, they reformed and the next time they really came in, they penetrated our lines, and we got them out of



there about two or three o'clock in the morning. When daylight happened, you could see by the condition of the bodies where the artillery had come down seventy-five yards in front of the line. That's why I use those figures. You could just pace it off and on out to where the Naval gunfire with heavier caliber shells had stopped a lot of them. We counted about five hundred. I lost a hundred and some odd. There were forty souls killed, and an amount up over a hundred that were wounded. This is all in the history books. I could look it up, but it isn't that important for this purpose.

So, the two companies on the other side didn't run into very much trouble but they probed them a little bit. That was their last real gasp. The next morning, the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines, which had not been committed, landed. They moved up and passed through me on both sides of the airstrip and had some fighting, but secured the island by that evening.

There were a lot of suicides among the enemy that they found.

They landed the 2nd Battalion 6th Marines, which was the last of the 6th Marines, on the neighboring island which was given the code name "Helen," along with some artillery. They were left to clean out the chain. They stayed on another two or three weeks. That was the one that the book was written about. What was the name of that book, Strong Men Armed? I'll check that for you because one of the men in that battalion later wrote that book. It was a bestseller. He is still a good writer.

We stayed on Betio then. Of course, the 2nd and the 8th Marines were pulled off and sent on back to Hawaii. We stayed on the island and the Seabees came in and repaired the airstrip. The first carrier air group from the Saratoga landed with Captain Bill Erwin in command. We stayed on there for several days. There was not too much to do, just mopping up. At night, we had our security because the first night we had several individual efforts by the Japanese to attack our Seabees--suicide type things. We'd get four or five Japs as they tried to get close enough in to throw a grenade and then shoot themselves. There was still a few casualties, but not all that many.

There were two battalions of 6th Marines that stayed there. The main effort, of course, was to bury the dead, because in that tropical climate there was a terrible odor and very unsanitary. We were busy burying our own dead and marking their graves as well as the Japanese. There were so many of them that we had to use the mass grave technique for them for sanitation purposes alone. The Seabees would bulldoze out a big hole; we only captured about ten of their people and none were Japanese. They were Korean workmen that were brought there against their will to do the coolie labor.

These were pretty tough Japs. They were the Japanese marines, Japanese Special Landing Forces they called them. They were from Northern Japan. They were big, six foot, the biggest Japs that I ever saw.

Donald R. Lennon:

This early during the war they hadn't dissipated their troops to that extent.

William K. Jones:

No. They were mean.

What was left of the regiment, considering the casualties sustained and the 2nd Battalion being left behind to sweep clean the rest of the Tarawa Chain of atolls, the 1st and the 3rd Battalion and the



Regimental Headquarters were put all on one transport, along with my brother's reconnaissance company and some of the division troops. We all sailed back then to the "big island" of Hawaii.

There were some humorous occurrences as there are always in warfare. I had befriended the chief engineer aboard my transport because I found that the best way to punish marines that insisted on missing the ship or staying over leave was to turn them over to the ship's engineers who could clothe them out of the ship's "lucky bag" which is just discarded clothing that they find laying around here and there. I wouldn't let them ruin the Marine uniform. The chief engineer was always happy to have some guys to do some real hot dirty work down in the boiler room. Well, that word got around and it was the most effective type of discipline that I found. It was hot and dirty. All their buddies would kid them about it, because they didn't get away with a thing. Therefore, right during the counterattack on Betio, this little Marine came crawling up through the sand and he was pulling this gallon tin. It was a gallon tin of engine room pure alcohol that the chief engineer had sent in to me as a present figuring that I needed some liquid courage or something. I didn't worry about it at that time; but when the fighting was all over, a couple of nights later while we were all sitting in this tank trap that we were using as a headquarters, someone asked me about it. I said, "Well, break out some of that. You go down and swipe a case of pineapple juice or whatever you can find from the division dump and bring it back and we'll have a cocktail party." And, they did.

About that time, I got a call on my field phone saying that there were some correspondents that wanted to come up and get a human interest story. These guys had been in the first wave, and had taken all the shots and shells along with the Marines and had gone back to the U S S MARYLAND which was the battleship closest in--that is where the admiral was and our commanding general-- to file their stories. Before they could file them, and we were aboard ship when this happened the night of D-Day, we had a big air raid and the MARYLAND put out to sea. That was my first sight of the naval anti-aircraft guns firing at one time, and it was spectacular. They drove off the Japanese attackers, but of course they had radio silence, and these correspondents were not allowed to file their stories. So, the next day some other correspondents got in and beat them to the punch. These guys were very distressed because of course they had been scooped and they were looking for just about anything. One of them happened to be Dick Johnson, who later was the editor of Sports Illustrated. Anyway, they came on up and I asked them if they wanted some gin and grapefruit juice. They said, "Oh God, yes." We didn't have any ice. We all had some drinks. And, as I said, it was pure engine room alcohol. They wound up the next day with terrible hangovers. As a revenge, when I got back to Hawaii, one day in the mail I got from my mother a clipping from the Los Angeles Times of a story one of them had written about how I had been in this foxhole during this counterattack. The Japanese had gotten in, while I was talking on the field phone, and I held them off with my foot until I got my revolver out. Then, I shot them. It was just the most untrue blood and guts pure fabrication about what a heroic guy I had been. This, of course, made me the laughing stock of the division because other guys got the clipping and stuck it up on their bulletin board. They all knew that was a lot of “hockey.” So, he got his revenge, and after that I never put out any false contents in offering libation to any news correspondent.

When we got back to the "big island" of Hawaii we went up to this tent camp at the Parker Ranch. It was cold and we had to sleep under blankets. They had a marvelous training area. As you probably know, the



Parker Ranch is the second largest cattle ranch in the world next to the King Ranch. It is very high, and the water is spring mountain water. So, we re-equipped and got our replacements in. I was given a battlefield promotion to Lt. Colonel which simply meant that it was only good as long as I was in the Fleet Marine Force. If I was sent back to the States, I would revert to major. But at least it let me keep command of the battalion. We trained there for about another six months until we set out on our next campaign which was the Marianas Campaign.

While there, we had rodeos. Of course, they have Hawaiian cowboys, and they ride broncs and bulldog cattle and all this. Our marines from Texas and Arizona would go into competition with them. We would put on big rodeos.

We also had a lot of excellent live firing, and plenty of amphibious training, and good weather. We would have preferred to have gone back to New Zealand because of the wonderful people there who were so tremendous to the Americans. Our marines could walk down the streets and have middle-aged couples come up and ask them to come up to the house and have dinner with them, because their sons had been gone for so long. Then they would just adopt them and this would be this youngster's home away from home. When he was on liberty, he would stay there and spend the night. Sometimes, they had teenage daughters that they could date. The people were just magnificent to the Marines. Both for us in Wellington and in Auckland the 9th Marines of the 3rd Division experienced the same thing. The New Zealanders couldn't have been nicer to us. A lot of marines married New Zealand girls. After we trained at Hawaii, we set out for Saipan. This time the 6th Marines was one of the assault regiments. It was to have the left flank with the 8th Marines on our right, and the 2nd Marines in reserve. But I was stuck as the reserve battalion of the 6th Marines again. The landing at Saipan, although the lesson from Tarawa had been learned as far as the amount of naval gunfire and air preparation, they still didn't get everyone out of the thing. It was very heavily contested. The battalion commander of the 2nd Battalion which had the very left flank was wounded upon landing, seriously wounded, and had to be evacuated. He had many casualties. So, I was landed to pass through the 2nd Battalion and take up the left flank position of the division and of the landing. The 2nd Division landed on the left and the 4th Division landed on the right.

There was a light Japanese tank hiding in some trees that had been missed by the air and the naval gunfire. So, as we came in over the reef, my command LVT was packed so much that no one could really sit down. There was an ammunition box next to me right by the left gun-wale. I saw it. We were all stooping over because of the small arm-fire that was bouncing off the amtrac. So, I sat down. As I did, I saw this blinding flash, and I looked at my hand and it was covered with blood. I thought I had been hit. I hadn't of course; I could still wiggle my fingers. This light tank shell had gone clean thru the LVT. I looked up and there was this hole over my head and this shell while going through the amtrac had blown the head off of the officer standing next to me, and the officer standing next to him. We were so tightly packed in there that the bodies couldn't fall, so it was their blood on me. The shell had set the ammunition of the fifty caliber machine gun on fire. But we got to the beach and rolled over the side.

The ones that I lost were fine officers. I lost the operations officer and the amphibian tractor officer. They were the two that were killed by the shell. We got ashore. Because of all the heavy fire, my



companies were widely dispersed. The amtracs just went wherever they could. So we had to spend some time getting the battalion reorganized, getting a hold of them , then moving on off the beach because the 2nd Battalion hadn't really been able to get off the beach at all. They were only about ten or twenty yards inland. So, we moved through them.

By the time night fell, we had a pretty good size beachhead. We were at least a couple of hundred yards inland and extended back to the beach. We were tied in with the 3rd Battalion on our right. So divisions started landing and getting the reserve regiment, the 2nd Marines, in. I guess the 2nd Marines didn't get in the first night. I'm not sure. I knew that we would probably get a banzai because we usually got that the first night on any landing. I cautioned everyone to put out the word to their men to dig in, because they would probably hit us, and they would throw everything at us including the kitchen sink. Right around midnight we heard all this commotion out in front of the lines. Of course we had some flares going and we were all dug in and ready for them. There was one Jap tank. You could see it in the dim light that the flares made. These Japs were all just outside of our range and were chanting and banzaing and all. About that time, this American voice rang out along the line . . . they were all very tense, of course, and the voice rang along a line and said, "Tell Colonel Jones that the kitchen sink is here." Well, that caused everyone to relax. Everyone was laughing and then they started yelling uncomplimentary things about the emperor of the Japanese. So, they settled down. On the tank was a bugler and he sounded the charge. As soon as they charged, we opened up. We found the bugle the next day with a bullet right up the snoot. Somebody had a lucky shot. They didn't do anything. We drove them off. They suffered heavy casualties.

Donald R. Lennon:

You didn't have the Navy to bombard them?

William K. Jones:

Oh yes. I had naval gunfire supporting me and artillery supporting me. We had machine guns as the final protective lines. They never did penetrate my lines at all. So, the next night, we pushed on in closer to the foothills. By this time, the division had gotten some antitank guns ashore. In those days, the regiments had 37MM antitank guns. The division had self propelled 75MM. They were just getting ashore. Then that night, my battalion had the only Japanese tank attack I know of in the Second War-- at least in the Pacific amphibious war. Of course they had them in the Philippines and so forth, but I mean against us--because we didn't run into them in Okinawa or Iwo Jima, or Peleliu. Well, you might run into one or two tanks. But, they had twenty-five tanks. They brought in a night tank attack accompanied by about five hundred infantry men. We could see them coming. The naval gunfire was not effective in this case, and air support was no good at night in those days. So, they penetrated our lines, and it was a real fracas for a while there. These marines would stop them with a bazooka--a 3.75MM anti-tank rocket in those days. They would do all kinds of things. I had one bazooka team that knocked out seven tanks alone. But they'd get up and chase the tanks. They weren't just sitting in their holes. These marines were hooting and hollering. One marine let this tank run right over him and then jumped out. He got up on back of it and pried the hatch open and threw an explosive satchel charge down and blew it up. Another marine, a tank went by him and there was this old coconut log there and he stuck that in the bogie wheel and that fouled the tracks. It started going around in circles, and the tank commander made the mistake of opening the hatch; and this marine jumped up and threw a grenade at him. So, there was just hand to hand fighting against these tanks. We were able to stop the infantry. They couldn't get in to



support them, because we stopped them with our artillery and machine gun fire. The tanks, though, had come on in but the infantry did not come in. Only one tank got away. We saw it the next day going up the mountain in the distance. I took it under fire with the naval gunfire. Whether or not we got it, we were never sure. But, we had something like twenty-four tanks on the battlefield the next morning in our lines and all around. I lost seventy marines. But, if they'd gotten through, they would have gone right on through to the division headquarters which was fifty yards in back of me and on to the supplies on the beach. That was quite a night.

We pushed on the next day. We were the hinge of a swinging gate movement. In other words, the 4th Division landed on the right of the 2nd Division, and they were supposed to sweep across the island and turn and come up and I forget my direction right now. But, we had to stand still. That was a very unhealthy place to be.

Donald R. Lennon:

You are better off moving than you are to stand still.

William K. Jones:

Oh much better! It is human nature for ourselves as well as any enemy, if an enemy is moving towards you, the closer he gets, the more nervous you get. It's human nature as I say. So, your shots are not as calmly fired. You're hastily jerking the trigger. There is a more deliberate alignment of sights if he is moving laterally or moving away from you. So, I did all the tricks I could do. I always changed my lines as much as I could within the restrictions that were placed upon me. I patrolled very heavily, of course, as far as I could. I was probed every night by enemy patrols that tried to get through. But, they didn't.We were finally relieved by the 8th Marines up around the town of Garapan. That night, they were counterattacked. The Japanese broke through them, and my battalion had to go back in and wipe the enemy out, and close the breach again.

We had heavy fighting on Saipan. As a result we suffered much heavier casualties. The whole division did as a matter of fact. As far as battalion commanders are concerned, there was only one other infantry battalion commander, and that was the same Wood Kyle from Tarawa and myself and one artillery commander not killed or wounded. All other battalion commanders were either killed or wounded. There were no regimental commanders killed. Our regimental executive officer was killed by a sniper. As far as my officers were concerned, I had out of my twenty-nine officers assigned to me, twenty-two were either killed or wounded. About four hundred and ninety of my enlisted men were killed or wounded. So, the battalion took a real pasting on Saipan. They were then feeding me new officers.

Donald R. Lennon:

I can see that you had quite a rapid turnover of officers.

William K. Jones:

Very rapid. I remember one company that had the junior lieutenant in it, and there were seven officers in it. This guy was just a fresh 2nd lieutenant--Peter Frank Lake who was later Secretary of State of the state of Texas, and a successful lawyer down in Texas now. Within four days after we landed, he was in command of that company.

He was the only officer left in that whole company. But, then I started getting replacements.



We used the reserve who were 2nd Marines to mop-up the island, along with the reserve of the 4th Division and the Army 25th Division which had a lot written about them. The only thing 1'11 say on that is that they were on my right flank, and between us and the 4th Marines. I clearly recall that every night we would get an overlay from division showing the location of all front line units so that you could plan your night naval gunfire and artillery fire and be sure you didn't shoot, particularly with the naval gunfire, into one of the friendly battalions. They would fire right across your front, parallel to it, with the naval gunfire, which was the most effective way for them to do it too. Well, one night, the overlay came out from corps. They would just consolidate all of them submitted. It showed this Army division and their front lines. There was nobody facing the enemy. They had one battalion facing the other battalion and the 3rd Battalion facing to the rear. They were completely fouled up, and they were shooting each other. They were claiming that they were heavily engaged and who they were engaged with were their own troops. That is when the corps commander General H. M. Smith relieved the army division commander Major General Ralph Smith which caused quite a flack between the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps. We still are getting an argument on it. I do remember that very clearly. They really were fouled up and Marine Smith had to pull them out of there. Their troops, from the battalion on down, were magnificent. They were good Americans. I had the liaison officer over with me, and he was a fine West Pointer. He was embarrassed and ashamed about everything. But, unfortunately the division was a National Guard Division. All their senior officers including General Smith were National Guard officers who were politically rather than professionally qualified. This is what caused the big furor. They lost a lot of good boys through that. Of course, it was very sensitive as far as pride and all that kind of stuff to the services.

Well, we didn't have very long to refurbish before we went on over to Tinian. My brother was there with his amphibious recon company again and he sent his people ashore on Tinian. They would swim ashore from submarines. He wouldn't let them carry any weapons, because he was afraid they would tip off the Japanese what we were doing. He never lost a man. He found these two beaches that were very small. But, the Japanese expected us to come in on the only one good beach on the island, and that was up on the end of the island where the little town was. So, they had that heavily defended. Thanks to his reconnaissance, we landed in a column of companies on these very narrow beaches. There were two divisions, the 2nd and 4th Divisions. We were ashore and spreading out before they even knew we were there.

Donald R. Lennon:

No trouble establishing a beach head at all there?

William K. Jones:

No, we didn't lose a man. So, there wasn't too much heavy fighting on Tinian. It was a pretty demoralizing detail to the enemy with us coming in from the rear and everything. They put up a resistance, of course. Then, we just cornered them all on one end of the island, and all of them killed themselves. Stories which you have read about the island, the enemy jumping over the cliff, and frightening natives and so forth are true. As far as casualties were concerned, there weren't very many.

Towards the last, one night I had my CP security out. I always stressed that very heavily. There was a group of Japanese that tried to get into our CP. They bounced off of us and hit the CP of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which had made a mistake (from the way I operate) of sitting up in the tree line



which is too conspicuous, and too easy for the enemy when they send out a patrol to use that as a landmark. I always sit out in an open field where they will have a hard time of pinning me down. The battalion commander who had been my battalion commander and dear friend, John Easley, was shot right through the heart. I held his hand as he died. So, we lost that battalion commander there. Both the CP command posts suffered casualties since we went to help them. They had quite a fire fight but we helped them as much as we could. So, the only technique that I had developed by this time was that of the CP security using illuminating grenades and setting up what we called a flame foogas. We would make these out of taking a five gallon tin of motor oil or fifty gallon drum of fuel. For the small one, you attach an incendiary grenade to the side with a trip wire, or pull wire. For the larger ones we attached an 81MM white phosphorus shell with a grenade to set that off and then either have a trip wire or pull wire. We found that most any man would rather be shot than stabbed. And, a man would rather be stabbed than burned to death, the Orientals particularly. So, we found that when they would come in on us, they would trip one of our foogases that would silhouette them so that the machine gunners and riflemen would get them if the fire didn't. That would alert us and scare them. I would also always put a flame thrower, which we used in the Second War extensively, to clean out caves and pill boxes. I always defensively put them in back of my machine gun sections because I found that as the machine gunners would stay on what we called the "final protective line," that is, where you have your interlaced bands of fire. But, in the heavy banzai when they are getting close, and the machine gunner gets nervous, he will go on what you call a "free gun" and start shooting it like you see in the movies, which is not effective at all. It breaks up your whole fire plan defensive plan. With the flame throwers there and their knowing that if the Japs or the enemy ever got close enough to them the flame thrower would wipe them out. (They are effective up to seventy yards.) It held them on their final protective line. Usually you would not open up until the enemy got within thirty yards of you because at that range it was devastating. It has a trajectory to it just like anything else. Of course some people disputed me by saying that I was lighting up my front lines. But, my rejoinder was that if they are coming in on you, they know where you are; what do you care if you are lighted up. It always worked. We used a lot of the flame throwers on that tank attack. The flame throwers were taking off after these tanks too. They could set them on fire by hitting their engine. So, CP security and the use of the flame in the defense was very effective.

After Tinian we went back to Saipan and regrouped and patrolled. We wiped up enemy pockets in our patrol and built a division camp. The 4th Division went back to Hawaii to the island of Maui where their camp was. We stayed on Saipan. The Army division was moved off. We stayed there until the Iwo Jima deal in which we were the strategic reserve. We had our ships loaded, combat loaded, but we didn't put the troops on them. We were not called on the Iwo Jima Campaign at all. So, when that was over, we unloaded the ships. We started training for the Okinawa Campaign. On the Okinawa Campaign, here again, we were designated as strategic reserve. The landing was Easter Sunday, I think it was 1 April of that year. We were to make a mock landing as a diversionary maneuver on the opposite side of the island where the real landing was to be made by the Army and Marines. We went in there and we put our boats in the water. We did not put any troops, just a few--a handful in the boats. They maneuvered towards the shore. They made one of the most successful diversionary operations of the Second World War according to the history books, because the Japanese fell for it. They came at us; they hit one of our



transports--the transport that had our artillery battalion, the 6th Marine Artillery on it. They had to abandon ship; they sunk that ship. They hit one of our LST's--the kamikazes. But, the casualties . . . I didn't have a single casualty. The only casualties suffered were those on the ships that were hit by these Japanese planes, but comparatively few since they abandoned ship and were immediately picked up by other ships. But, as a result, the main landing force landed standing up, they didn't lose a man going in on Okinawa. They ran into really tough fighting later on but they didn't lose a man landing. So, that was all we did on the Okinawa Campaign. We had to float around out there for a couple of weeks just making circles to see if we would be needed. They finally decided to send us back to Okinawa where we still kept the ships loaded, but just went about our normal day-to-day training routine ashore. Then, at the very last, they sent one regiment, the 8th Marines, up to help in the finishing off of the mopping-up of the island. That was the only regiment of the 2nd Division to set foot on Okinawa.

At that time, they said that any of us that had been out of the States for over thirty-three months could come home for a month's leave. So, I put in for it. A lot of the married officers didn't. They thought that would mean that they would have to start another three years. Although the policy clearly said that this had nothing to do with extending your overseas tour. But in those days, unlike the subsequent wars like Korea and Viet Nam, everyone went out and stayed out regardless of what service you were in until it was over. Our main mission on Okinawa was just to protect the Air Force. They were flying the B-29's out of there, of course, and that's where the atom bomb flew from. I came home again in the summer of 1945. I was on leave. I was just getting ready to go back over when VJ-Day happened. So, after that I was given a change of orders and I went back out and turned over the battalion. Then I was sent back after awhile to the States to Quantico, Virginia.

Donald R. Lennon:

Thinking in terms of the war, do you have any thoughts or observations concerning any of the general officers under whom you served such as Julian Smith or any of those?

William K. Jones:

General Julian Smith was dearly loved by the officers and the men of the 2nd Division. He was a fine officer and very considerate, a sort of a fatherly type. The Chief of Staff at Tarawa as I mentioned, was Red Mike Edson who had won the Medal of Honor on Edson's Ridge at Guadalcanal. He was a tough "banty rooster" little redhead who really pulled the division together when he joined it. General Marston had it at Guadalcanal, and although he was a fine gentleman, he was an old-time general, I mean, a lot of the ones that were generals at the very beginning of the war were pulled out of there since it was a new ballgame than what they knew and the Corps was growing in size beyond their wildest expectations.

Donald R. Lennon:

He was left over from World War I?

William K. Jones:

Right. They were World War I and between World War I and World War II vintage. We didn't have many generals when I joined the Corps. The Marine Corps, even when I came on active duty, was only 17,800. That was in 1939. By the time that the Second War was over, we were up to half million, over 500,000. So, a lot of these division commanders later on even after Julian Smith, like General Cates, and General Shepherd, they were all heroes of the First World War but as captains. When the Second War started,



they started out as colonels. They were colonels on Guadalcanal under General Vandegrift. They became generals very shortly. Julian Smith was a splendid fellow. But, the ramrodder in the thing was Edson.

On the way up to Tarawa, Colonel Dave Shoup was G-3. On the way up, Colonel Marshall had the 2nd Marines, and he had a nervous breakdown. So, they put Colonel Shoup in command of the 2nd Regiment. That's how he came to be the senior colonel who got ashore at Tarawa where he won his Medal of Honor and did such a fine job. He made his one star when he got back to Hawaii and relieved General Hermle. General Edson moved up to be the assistant division commander. General Smith was relieved a few months after Tarawa and sent over to form up a logistics command at Pearl Harbor. His successor was General Thomas E. Watson who was not popular. He was a very profane, cocky little guy with everyone. He exerted the drivership principle instead of the leadership principle of General Smith. That always impressed me because as soon as that happened, General Edson, who up to that time had been the guy to be afraid of and who stressed that we do our job on time and promptly, began to realize that you can't have two task masters. So, he became the fellow that would come around and pat you on the back.

Edson would come up to my battalion almost every day on Saipan. I had a little Greek runner named Tony, I forget his last name. We had these chocolate bars, D-rations they called it. They were very, very concentrated chocolate, but Tony somehow would always be able to "goose gal" some canned milk. He had an old beat up Japanese kettle that he "liberated." He would take his bayonet and he'd shave this D-ration, and every noon I'd have hot cocoa with my lunch. The word got around, and General Edson would come by, and Bob Sherrod who wrote On To Westward and Tarawa. That's where I got to know Bob so well. We are still very close friends. He lives here in Washington. They'd come by. I knew damn well they wanted to have some of that cocoa, rather than just seeing me. Watson came around and everyone would be scared to death. He was just ornery and mean. He's dead now so rest his soul, but he was just that kind of an officer. It wasn't a front with him. It was the real thing. He felt that that was the way he had to do it. It was just his personality. I am not saying that he did not know his stuff. He did. But, the way he went about it was just unnecessary for what you call real leadership. He had the division until I was transferred. He had the most harassed aide. I'll never forget. He was a big, tall kid, much taller than the old man. He never smiled. We all called him "laughing boy" because he never smiled once. He hated this old gentleman with a passion. The old man wouldn't let him go. He just made life miserable for him.

General Cates had the 4th Division and he was extremely popular and a very fine division commander. General Shepherd had the 6th Division, the division on Okinawa. He also was a highly thought of and very fine general. I didn't know General Rupertus who had the 1st Division. We were never in any close contact with the 1st Division after Guadalcanal. They were always operating in a different area of the Pacific from us. I didn't observe them. Their assistant division commander, Oliver Prince Smith, was a splendid officer. He was my battalion commander in Iceland as lieutenant colonel. He had command of our 1st Marine Division in the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. He was the one that said, "Retreat hell, we're just advancing in a different direction." He was just a splendid gentleman. We admired him very much. He treated us all very good. In fact, he gave my wife away when we were married since her father was not able to be there. So, he ended up as a 3 Star General and in command of the FMF Atlantic.



Donald R. Lennon:

How did the two Smiths contrast?

William K. Jones:

Well, they were entirely different. General Oliver Prince Smith was a very, very scholarly man. He had missed the First War. He was sent to Guam for garrison duty. He always deeply regretted that, and felt a sort of an inferiority complex to men like Shepherd and Cates, who had made such tremendous records in Belleau Woods and so forth. But, they respected him, and he really knew his military history and he taught us a lot. He was very quiet spoken, smoked a pipe, and very seldom touched a drop of liquor except when he put on his Eagles in Iceland, he did. I don't know if I covered that last time.

Donald R. Lennon:

No, you mentioned him being in Iceland.

William K. Jones:

He came to me in Iceland, I don't know why me, with another Irishman lieutenant named Johnny Chaison. He didn't know how to put on a "wetting down" party, but he would like to have a wetting down party when he was promoted to Colonel. We didn't allow any women in the mess there. The Icelandic girls--too many were sympathetic to the Germans. So, we said, "Sure, that's easy." Of course, he was paying for the booze. We had learned a lot of songs from the British up there. This was our favorite pastime after dinner to play penny ante poker or sing. All of the officers were in the mess hut that we used for the officer's club. One of the songs we learned was called "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" A silly song - it was a repetitive deal. The way you did this, was that you played follow the leader and you balanced your drink on your head while singing this song the whole time. Well, some of us got pretty good at this balancing the drink on our heads. I don't know if I was leading it or Chaison but Oliver Prince Smith played it with us. We were just amazed because he was always so dignified. The trick was that if you spilled your drink, you had to buy another round of drinks for the whole mess. We got so we could go up over the piano and come down the other side without spilling it. He never got over the piano. I'll never forget, he spilled three drinks all over him. But, he had the time of his life that night. He just laughed and thought it was funny as hell. But, he was a very human guy.

Now, the other Smith, "Howling Mad" Smith, was very tough looking. But, he was just as soft or softer than O. P. Smith. I have seen him when he came ashore after Tarawa with tears in his eyes. He loved his marines with a passion. Julian Smith was like "Howlin Mad" in this respect. He was very sentimental. He was dearly and highly thought of by all the marines, and highly thought of by Admiral Nimitz. I only saw Admiral Nimitz once. He decorated me after Tarawa with the Silver Star. I was impressed with him. He was a fine looking man. I have always admired him from what I have read about him. I was too junior to know any of the other admirals really. That's about all I really could tell you about the generals from World War II. Vandegrift came back to be commandant and did a fine job.

[End of Part 2]



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #33
William K. Jones
September 29, 1976
Interview #3

William K. Jones:

There are two incidents which I would like to recount at this point. One of them was rather humorous and the other I think is something of real interest concerning World War II. Then I will go into the period after World War II and sweep Korea, Quantico, and Vietnam. On Saipan we met very stiff resistance at the beach as I might have mentioned. We suffered very heavy casualties, second only to Tarawa on the beach as far as my division was concerned. I heard about this incident a few days after D-Day. It concerned a Catholic priest. This particular chaplain whose name I don't recall, was not in my outfit. He had an Irish name. A lot of Catholic priests do, of course. He had evidently taken two gas mask bags and left the gas masks on board the ship. In one of them he put a couple of bottles of Scotch whiskey that he brought from New Zealand. In the other, he filled with fried chicken that he had gotten the cooks to make up for him. He landed in the very early waves. He spent his time going up and down the beach to these wounded Marines who might have received corpsman first aid, but they were very close to going into shock. He would tell them words to the effect, "Now son, you're going to be all right." The youngster, of course, was frightened and he didn't know at all that he was going to pull through this particular ordeal. Then, the Father would say, "Now, how would you like a swig of Scotch?" The kid would say, "You must be kidding." Well, the chaplain would give them a drink of Scotch, if he wanted it. Then, he would say, "Now how about a nice piece of fried chicken?" Well, it was so incongruous to have this fried chicken and Scotch when all hell was breaking loose on the beach there. Wounded were all over the place. The corpsmen were getting hit themselves. There was a lot of gunfire and this chaplain was calmly moving from wounded to wounded and sort of kidding them out of letting themselves become so emotionally overwrought that in talking to doctors later, many of them said that was the best psychological move that that chaplain could have possibly made. In doing so, he undoubtedly saved a lot of lives of these youngsters who would have gone into shock before they could be evacuated back to the ship to be put in the hospital or sick bay. That is a story that has never really been told. This chaplain was decorated for his efforts because he not only used his head and used a very basic approach to calming the anxiety and fears of anyone that had been seriously hurt, but he also risked his life by moving up and down that beach that was under heavy gunfire.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do chaplains normally go in on the first wave like that?

William K. Jones:

Yes. Most of them are very dedicated men. They pretty much insist on getting in there quite early. They all administered and would comfort the wounded. But, none of them showed quite the imagination that this Irishman that knew that the most incongruous thing that anyone would expect to see on a beach on



D-Day would be fried chicken and Scotch. By coming to that conclusion, he managed to provide this unusual shock on the thing. Chaplains went in quite early. Normally each battalion had a Catholic chaplain and a Protestant chaplain. We had very few Jewish chaplains. Normally they were at the division level and most of the services were conducted either by the Catholic or the Protestant. They would have to spread out of course. They would be nondenominational. Then, the Jewish Rabbi would as he could assemble because of course they were in the minority. It was the same thing with the Greek Orthodox. We would only have about one of those for a division. They would get together whenever it was possible to assemble.

We had great stress. What we used also, since we are dwelling on this, was a system that the Navy Department set up during the second war or before. It was a system in which they would have specially designated men to act as lay ministers. These young men were enlisted men and we tried to have them down to company size units and sometimes even down to platoon size units. The young men were Catholic, Protestant, or what have you who would take some instructions from the ordained ministers or priests. They would conduct these nondenominational services when it was just impossible, because of the front, for the ordained ministers to come very often. They would just carry on a nondenominational service just like on board ships. For instance, they had these aboard ships because of course on the smaller ships the Navy couldn't afford to have chaplains.

Donald R. Lennon:

I couldn't imagine they could get enough chaplains into the service for that.

William K. Jones:

No, you couldn't. All the churches would just allow so many to perform this kind of duty even in wartime because they have to. The number of chaplains from a denomination usually depended upon the size of the denomination. It is that way today.

The Lay Leaders, that's the name of the program. I never thought I would forget that because I used it, I'll tell you how, in another respect. These youngsters would not only be able to do this, but I used it then in a sense of human relations. I found that many times a young, teenage, enlisted man would be hesitant to go to this officer who was a chaplain--they were all commissioned--with his problems. It was the generation gap and an educational gap. But, this lay leader would have his name published on the bulletin board before we went into combat. I used this after the war, too. I used it in 29 PALMS when I had command of that I would encourage them that if they did not want to go talk to their chaplain for advice, and they didn't want to go up the military chain--because many of them were reluctant--to go to their lay leader.

There was a thing we call request mast that you are familiar with which any enlisted man or any officer is guaranteed the right by law to have what the naval services call request mast. But it means that any man that wants to talk to his superior officer or take a complaint or take a question or take a request up the line cannot be denied that under any circumstances. However, many times in the intervening chain of command, unfortunately, by their facial expressions or I guess in all fairness sometimes just because they just practically refuse, because maybe this youngster is considered to be a deadbeat by his first sergeant or his sergeant and he just says, "I'm not going to let him bother the Captain. He might tell lies about me." So he refused to let him go up. But, many times a youngster doesn't want to go up that



chain, because he is afraid to get the first sergeant or sergeant-major angry with him. None of my commanders ever complained nor my NCO's. I was not bypassing the chain of command, but I was getting this guy to make his problem, the thing that was bothering him, known just through another channel. He would go to this lay leader who would then advise him to talk to his chaplain. He would take him up to the chaplain and introduce him and sort of sit with him if he wanted. Then the kid would spell out the problem. Well, the chaplain, of course, being an educated man knew exactly where to go and what to advise him. Sometimes, it never went any further. The chaplain was able to show him that he had nothing to worry about. Other times it was something that was a simple matter for the chaplain to pick up the phone and call the American Red Cross representative and send a wire back to the youngster's little wife, or his parents or what have you without ever getting it in the chain of command. It would have gone into that channel anyway had it come up through the request mast procedure. Then, other times, the chaplain would go and champion the kid's cause without really getting him involved at all with the sergeant-major or first sergeant. So, the Lay Leaders program was very valuable which I hope is still in existence now in the services. It has been in the naval service for many years. We would use that. I'm sure the other services have it too.

In Korea, I didn't have this, but in Vietnam I was always impressed with a prayer that some chaplain wrote years ago called the "Marine's Prayer." So, I had that reproduced when I had the 3rd Division, no I guess it was when I was FMF PAC. These were little pocketsize cards. No one was forced to take them, but you'd be surprised at those that did. As the old saying goes, "I've never seen an atheist in a foxhole." There were plenty of guys that would not attend the services on the night before D-Day although all the denominations had a service. On the other hand, you would be amazed after D-Day how many people showed up at any service. That's where the old expression comes from, "Boy when it's coming close to your bow, why all of a sudden a lot of these youngsters and growing older men start thinking about, is this the end of everything?" That is a little aspect of the religious part of Marines. This was true in Vietnam, this was true in Korea and in the three wars I've been in. I think that's overlooked many times in the history books.

Sometimes a chaplain will catch the public's imagination, like during the early part of World War II when they wrote that song about "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." That was written by a chaplain aboard a Navy vessel. That was on one of the big early battles. These men do a marvelous amount of good in wartime as well as in peacetime. The young man is used to the guidance of his family and influences of his scout leaders and athletic coaches and his religious leaders. When he gets away from home he is so prone to fall in with older men who are still his peers, who have a certain impression upon him because they have been in the service longer. They can really lead him astray. It is a constant battle to try to encourage the men to attend the service of their choice without trying, even to the point of sometimes saying, "If you don't attend the service of your choice, then we make available for you a discussion group led by one of the officers or staff NCO's that is interested in that.” They talk on just ethics, just talking about what is right and wrong, and how you should treat your fellow man. But, we try to get them at least once a week to think a little bit about their character. This aspect of military life, I've never really read about in history books, so I made notes and thought that might be interesting.



Of course, as you have heard me say before, one of the other things that never seems to surface in military history is the humor. And I've told you some stories about it. Sometimes you run into a true character that had a tremendous effect on the morale of the men. I recall one such man. His name was Bill Schwerin. His father happened to be the man that swore me into the Marine Corps at Kansas City, Missouri, at the post office. He was a captain. Of course, he retired a long time before I ran into his son. It turned out that his son turned up in my outfit. Actually, he showed up in the same regiment I was in--in another battalion. During the Saipan-Tinian Campaign is where I ran into him. This is how it came about. Bill was with one of our raider battalions during the Guadalcanal era. He was sent back into the jungle with his company to scout the enemy rear lines and report back in two weeks. Well, he was having so much fun disrupting all the rear area of the Japanese that he didn't come back in two weeks. He stayed out a whole month before he brought his company back in. Then, he told his superior that the reason he didn't is because his radio went out on him. That was a big lie, because that was always our excuse when we didn't want to talk to higher headquarters. We would plead communication difficulties and sometimes we would pull the wire out of your field phone or just turn your radio off and claim the batteries went out or something. He had done such a marvelous job. He was one of those cases, and they don't happen too often in which they had done two things: they awarded him the Navy Cross which is the second highest decoration, next to the Medal of Honor, and they court-martialed him. As a result of the court-martial, they threw him out of the Raiders because he just didn't obey his orders. You couldn't afford to have a guy like that that was taking it on himself to decide what to do.

They sent him to transport quartermaster duty. That was a very responsible position. During the war, it was very unglamorous because each transport had a Marine transport quartermaster. He would have maybe two NCO's to help him. It was their job to make out loading plans and unloading plans. Any outfit that came aboard, whether it was Army or Marine units, they would have to be the coordination between the Navy and the embarking units. They had to know the characteristics of the ship. They had their little templets and they would know where the jeeps would go and the trucks would go and the ammo would go and the food would go and all this. Well, that was about the most downgrading thing they could do to a guy like Schwerin because he dearly loved to get in a good fight.

We had very heavy casualties that I mentioned in those first few days, so I needed some more officers. I was down to having one second lieutenant command a company and things like that. Well, they notified me that I had some captains coming in. Well, the one they sent me turned out to be this fellow Bill Schwerin. I didn't know anything about him. So, I gave him command of my "A" Company. I asked him about his background. He said, "Well, I was on this Navy ship as a TQM." I said, "How come the skipper let you go?" Well, he said, "Two days ago, we looked up at the communication aerial of the ship and there was a carrier pigeon sitting on it. You could see the little metal band on its leg in which they carried the messages." Well, the Japanese used carrier pigeons quite often. So the captain was very anxious when this was pointed out to them. Bill told the captain about this and he was very excited about this. Bill told the captain, "I can get him down for you, Captain." The captain told him, "Well, go ahead." Well, Schwerin pulled out his forty-five and hit the pigeon. He was a crack shot. But in hitting the pigeon, he also severed the ship's wireless, the ship's antenna. Well, this put the captain out of communication with his superiors and with the beach and made him madder than hell. He threw



Schwerin off his ship. He put him on the beach and said he never wanted to see him again, particularly when they got the dead pigeon and there was a message. The captain probably had visions that he would get a big pat on the back for intercepting a very important Japanese message. But, all the message said--obviously some marine had captured the pigeon first and he had written a message and put it in there hoping that the pigeon would go back to the Japanese. The message said words to the effect, "Your emperor is amother ." So, that's when he threw Schwerin off the ship with his locker box and everything.

Schwerin reported in and they sent him to me. Well, we had been in combat for days. We were pretty grimy and dirty. We had just what we were carrying in our pack, Well, Schwerin showed up with his whole locker box. So, the next thing I noticed is that he was leading his company in starched khakis, even to a shirt and tie. Of course there again, it was so incongruous that the spirit of that company just rose. You could see it noticeably. Here was this new captain, and just look at that dude, here he is on the battlefield in starched khakis which I allowed. I said, "That is great, but you wear your helmet." He didn't want to wear his helmet. I thought, "Well, this is good, because it gave the whole battalion a lift really." This guy was a real character.

We swept through the town of Garapan which is the biggest town in Saipan. Well, Schwerin got down there with his company, and they found what must have been the local bawdy house because it had a lot of bright red drapes and things. They fashioned a large battle flag like the big Marine Corps flag. Only he had A-Company 1-6 on it and he would pull down one of these fancy tassels that you see in the old-fashioned decorative schemes of things, so that was the battle streamers. The next thing I saw was here up on the horizon is this big red flag going there. Well, hell, I about had a fit. It was a perfect aiming point for any enemy gunner. So, I had to send word that I didn't want them to carry that thing. Well, it so happened that he was attached to another regiment. Colonel Clarence Wallace was in command. So, Schwerin naturally would see any way that he could see a way out of some restriction, he would take it. He said, "Well, you told me I couldn't but Colonel Wallace didn't." So, he broke it out again. When Colonel Wallace saw it, he was even madder than I was and sent for the flag and impounded it. He put it in his regimental CP after reading Captain Schwerin off. So that wouldn't have been so bad except that night Schwerin sent a fire team of four marines to infiltrate the regimental commander's headquarters, and swiped their flag back. The next day they were flying it again. Well, you can imagine how Colonel Wallace took that. So, I got Schwerin and his company back. I got quite a tongue lashing from the Colonel. I gave a thrashing to Schwerin. I took the flag and burned it or buried it or something. The point of this whole yarn is, that in battle any incongruous thing, and any humorous thing has a tremendous effect upon raising the morale of the troops when they are starting to get tired. That's one of the commander's greatest worries.

After they get just so tired after days and days of battle, that's why you try to relieve your units and give them some rest and give them a good hot meal, or they will become careless and sort of numb. They don't take cover like they should, they don't take normal precautionary defensive tactics that have been drilled into them.



Donald R. Lennon:

But, by the same token, his total disregard for higher command seemed to me to not only endanger his company, but the entire battalion.

William K. Jones:

That's right. You could not stand this. So, to finish off that story, we went on to Tinian and he calmed down. He wore his helmet because he had an experience after I told him the next time I caught him without his helmet on. I said, "I don't give a damn about you, but if you don't wear your helmet, how can I expect your men to wear their helmets, and I do care about them." Well, he wore it. It just so happened that he came back to see me ; and about an hour after he had left my CP and had his helmet on, a sniper took a shot at him and it ricocheted off his helmet. He showed me his helmet and you could see where the bullet hit. He told me I was right. If he hadn't had that helmet on, it would have hit his gourd.

On Tinian he did get wounded in the arm. He came and he had blood all over him. He said, "That is a trip to the States." He thought that was great. He could see great liberty times. They didn't send him to the States. They sent him back to Honolulu. He probably raised plenty of hell with the nurses back there. Finally, he showed up again. By this time, he had made major and he was assigned to another battalion as the X0. The battalion commander of that battalion was a very dear friend of mine and still is. He had a lot of trouble with this fellow. During peace times, Schwerin always got in trouble because he had a disregard for discipline. On the battlefield he was great. He was fearless, he was smart, and knew his profession well.

He utilized his knowledge and set up beautiful defensive positions. He knew how to use deception. He always had his scouts out. He did everything right except for this battle flag thing. But in peace times, he was one of these fellows that just got into trouble. He drank too much. He gambled with the enlisted men. As much as you would warn him, he was just that type.

Then he came around and he wanted our recommendation for regular commission. The war was then drawing to a close. They had put out the word that they wanted anyone who wanted regular commission. He wanted me to recommend him for regular commission and he also wanted this friend of mine, Colonel Haffner, his battalion commander, to recommend him. Neither of us would recommend him. We just told him right in the eye that,” no we wouldn't recommend him for a regular commission. “ He was just a man that was good on the battlefield, but fortunately only about 5% of the time you are in fighting and 95% you have to be a teacher and an advisor and a combination of scout leader, minister, parent and what have you to these young men who are sent to us by the American people. So, we wouldn't recommend him.

He went back to Wisconsin, his home, and he joined the National Guard. He had flunked out of the Naval Academy. He had gone about two or three years to the Naval Academy. He was smart but he got in trouble and had too many demerits, and they threw him out. That is when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Then, he got a commission coming up through the ranks. He went into the National Guard outfit up there. He had all this background and a tremendous combat record with the Raiders and had the Navy Cross on down. He went to Korea with them and they gave him a battlefield promotion. He just did a great job for them. He was a real professional fighting man, no doubt about it. The last time I saw him



was when I was stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps as a colonel in 1952. He came by in his Army uniform.

He was a lieutenant colonel. He called on me. He had just done a great job and the Army just thought he was outstanding. As far as I know, he stayed on and has probably retired by now. That was the saga of this particular character. You have that type.

Donald R. Lennon:

When he was with the Raiders for his month in the jungle, did they carry adequate rations to last for a month?

William K. Jones:

Oh yes. Of course they lived off the land quite a bit. Then, they would raid these rear area dumps and they lived off a lot of Japanese rice and canned goods from the Japanese. Those are the only two fill-ins that I thought might be of interest in World War II.

After World War II, of course, all the services were cutting down in size. It was a drastic cut. The Marine Corps went from about five hundred and some odd thousand back down. During those days, of course, everyone was so glad the war was over to be back home with their families. Many of us who were bachelors during the war were married. The effort mainly in Quantico, which is the educational center of the Marine Corps for all the officers and the more technical schools, lay in developing new courses reflecting experiences we had had. But, it was with full awareness that the big problem is always that you continue to fight the last war instead of looking ahead for the next war. Well, in those days the popular saying was, "That we were fighting the war to end all wars." Once you got rid of Hitler and Tojo everything was going to be peaches and cream. We really didn't believe that, but we thought that it would be quite some time. We didn't know that Korea would only be about five years away.

That is where we started developing and talking about the helicopter assault concept. This was developed--the idea as far as I can trace it back--and he has never received credit for it, goes to this man who was Lieutenant

Colonel Loren E. Haffner. I was married in 1945 and he lived in an apartment building a couple of blocks away. He came over one summer evening and he was quite an artist. He could sketch things very well. He was a very imaginative man. He said, "Let me show you this thing." He had sketched out using helicopters. He had one sketch that showed them evacuating the wounded with the Red Cross on them; another one transporting troops. I must admit that I said they were just too vulnerable. As you know, we were used to going ashore in those heavily armored amtracs which we were all disimbued with. By the end of the war we would have much rather have gone back to the old unarmored Higgins boats that were faster. The amtracs were so slow in the water that they were prime targets for any enemy tanks or heavy caliber guns. But, he took it down and he talked to some other men who were teaching at the senior school, a colonel, who later became Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant General, Colonel Robert E. Hogaboom. His assistant was a man who later became a lieutenant general and was a lieutenant colonel at the time. His name was Victory Crulaux who we called "The Brute." "The Brute" was the one as a second lieutenant that I have mentioned before who came up with the idea of the ramp boats to land out of before the Second World War. These were adopted. They liked the idea and



they built a little presentation of about five or ten minutes using slides. At the end of their Advanced Space Problem they would show "This is how it is going to be in the future."

The Advanced Space Problems were started between the Naval War College and the schools at Quantico well before World War II. What they would do is to take a certain locale in the world and then would do all the intelligence of it. They developed a scenario involving an amphibious operation on it. These were invaluable because they were put into the records. When we invaded Guam and invaded many of the other islands out in the Pacific, they had already been the subject of an Advanced Space Problem. So, all the intelligence had already been gathered. It just had to be updated. All of the various courses of action had already been weighed, so they just had to be reviewed with a very critical eye. It was surprising just how many of those stood up just like they were.

So, they added this. This was in the late forties that the Marine Corps started this thing. You can check it out in the Army history, where many Army leaders have always said, "We could never understand why you came up with the helicopter concept and you let us run away with it." Some claim that they started it, but they didn't. The reason for that was because there was a great argument in the Marine Corps about this. Our Marine aviators, which constitute about a third of our officers' corps, were very much against it. They wanted the money, which is never enough to go around, to buy fighter planes and close support planes. They wanted fixed-wing aircraft. They didn't want to put out any available aviation money for this helicopter thing. This is understandable but not very farsighted on their part. So, we nevertheless had a certain number of helicopters. When Korea came along, we used these helicopters. We were the first to use them in combat. We used them to reinforce troops up on those high mountains. We used them also to evacuate wounded. That really proved the concept.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were they really vulnerable initially?

William K. Jones:

Well, they were not vulnerable if they were introduced correctly. By this, I mean, just like during Vietnam when they were much faster then. There was no armor on them because you can't put armor on the thing because it will cut down too much on your load. They armored some gunships which just protected the pilot and the gunner. Even so, why that cuts down on the speed; so you had to depend for protection on evasive actions. It was the same principle that we used years later in Vietnam. You either flew above 3500 feet which will make it difficult for a man with small arms to hit a moving target like that, or you flew at about fifty feet. Flying at fifty feet, why you are traveling at such a speed it is awfully hard for them to hit you unless they are crack shot skeet shooters. Of course, you had to follow the contours, but, if you ever got between one hundred and twenty-five hundred feet why you were a dead duck. So, these tactics were developed to take care of this thing. The reason for the helicopters was that we recognized after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bomb deal that you would never be able to make this huge concentration of ships and landing crafts that was our techniques in World War II. So, by the time Korea came along, we still used that because we still had pretty much of a monopoly on the atom bomb. Russia had the secret, but they hadn't developed a threat. So, we just used the helicopter in the functions that I have told you about. After that with the Navy's help, we have developed. The helicopter concept was dispersal of the attack force, so that you could have these various elements of it well spread out and over the horizon. You could launch your initial attack and assault with helicopters and



seize the beachhead and then you could move selectively the reinforcements and the supplies in over the water. We didn't foresee or do we foresee even at this date of this attack art that you could do everything by air. It is just such a massive weight of material, armor, bridging, engineering equipment as well as ammunition. It is all very, very heavy stuff. So, this was developed in response to that.

The only other thing that I think might be of interest concerning the days immediately following the war was the great upsurge in social activities. Every Saturday night at the Quantico officers club, we had a dance. All of the people showed up; the married people and their wives and the bachelors with dates with girls from Washington or down at Mary Washington College down in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We would wear our uniforms--whites or whatever the appropriate one was. We would also have costume parties and these things they call treasure hunts where you would have these clues that whoever was putting it on would spread around the base. Of course, we weren't making very much money in comparison of what we draw today. But, that didn't bother anyone. It was always a bring-your-own-bottle type of a thing. If you drank, you brought your own bottle for you and your wife or you and your date or whatever. The other things were all very reasonable. You always went "Dutch treat." Everyone was so happy that it was over, that they really turned out and had a marvelous, close feeling of camaraderie in all sections. This was true of the staff NCO's and the NCO's; the younger boys, those that stayed in, were all NCO's. You don't see that so much these days. There is not nearly as much fun. People just don't seem to have as much good clean fun in the service as they used to. Everything is taken too seriously.

Donald R. Lennon:

The same thing is true out of the service.

William K. Jones:

It is true in our whole society, unfortunately. I don't mean that people didn't take things very seriously during working time. But, the theory was to "work hard, play hard." The first priority always had to be the work. It still is. Once that was done, you should enjoy your life. Of course, we had been overseas and in those days the rule was to go out and stay out. Most of us had been overseas for thirty-six straight months. But, with the new system that was developed during Vietnam--well, it was during Korea where it really started--where you would go out for about a year or thirteen months and rotate. It is much better. But, it still doesn't seem to solve the thing.

I talk about this to my son and his friends. As I've told you he is a captain in the Marine Corps and my nephew is a captain in the Marines, and they are just fascinated about how much fun we had in those days. And, we still got as much accomplished as they do. So, that spirit existed. The POW's returned. We had many of them in our midst--men that had been POW's from Corregidor on. That would be about three years or more. Most of them had gone down to about a hundred pounds in weight and they were still in the process of building themselves up. They weren't allowed to come back onto active duty by the medical officer until they had gotten to a point. They were rearing for a good time. They were all promoted to whatever rank they would have obtained had they not been captured. So, this was a great thrill for them, of course. The whole atmosphere was very happy and challenging and carefree in a way, but also serious knowing what the future was bound to hold.



Then, of course, the Korean War broke. Before that, very briefly, I was sent from Quantico where I stayed from 1945 to 1948 where I was assigned duty as instructor in the basic school first, and then about the other half of the time I spent as head of the infantry section in what we called the junior school. It is now called the amphibious warfare school. I was a lieutenant colonel. This is another thing that bugs my son and my nephew because I was then twenty-nine years old and was already a lieutenant colonel. My son just turned thirty here this month and he is a fairly junior captain. But, that was just the nature of things then. He understands. He would just love to get going a little faster.We were sent to Stockholm, Sweden, where I was assistant Naval attaché. I was the first Marine officer to be sent there. The Office of Naval Intelligence wanted a Marine ground officer to go to Sweden and wanted a Marine Naval aviator to go to Norway. We went there for two years. While I was there that was during the time of the Berlin Airlift. Later on, I was able to fly into Berlin and have a look at Berlin and Hamburg. They were still devastated and had not been rebuilt since the Second World War. We were amazed with Scandinavia. We liked the people. Of course, the Swedes had not been involved in the war. My wife was amazed because she could buy nylon stockings, lipstick, cosmetics and things like that which even in 1948 were hard to come by here in the United States. They were very plentiful over there. It was interesting to me that when I went around to make my calls with my boss who was the Naval attaché on the chief of all the services and a Navy captain, how they all knew so much about the United States Marine Corps. In fact, when we called on the chief of the Swedish Air Force, Baron Nordenshaul who was a lieutenant general in the Swedish Air Corps, he told me more about the United States Marine Corps than I knew myself. They all subscribed, to the Marine Corps Gazette which is still our publication which is published down at Quantico. Sometimes they would catch me because they would read the articles in it before I did and then want to talk about it. It was a very social type of existence which was fun for two years. We would go to as many as sixteen parties a week which you can figure out is three or four a night.

Donald R. Lennon:

Those are more exhausting than the battlefield.

William K. Jones:

Same people and same diplomatic staffs. So, we collected, as all attachés do, overt type of intelligence. The country knows you're doing it. That's what you are there for. There are just certain restrictions and things you can't do.

Donald R. Lennon:

I suppose parties provided part of that intelligence.

William K. Jones:

Oh yes, they provided a certain amount of it. Of course, just like the other countries do today, we read various publications and gleaned out the intelligence. I would go down and take my family on a holiday on the beach. Of course, what I was looking for was a beach gradient. That's very easy to measure without making a big show of it. I'm sure they knew I was down there. I would measure the beach gradient by having my wife or daughter stand out a certain distance from shore and take a photograph of them. I would then say that this is a picture of a five foot four inch female ten feet out from the shoreline or what have you. The expert then could figure out what the beach gradient was.



The only really interesting time I had there was when the Norwegian Defense College invited me to come over and make a talk on amphibious warfare. I went over to Oslo and gave the talk. But, part of the agreement was that I would get to go up and make a reconnaissance on the Jaeren Plain which was the only suitable area for amphibious operation in Norway. I was accompanied by an officer in the Norwegian Navy. Of course, we were wearing civilian clothes. Well, the Russian Naval attaché got wind of it. Well, we had hardly left Oslo by train when we got word from his headquarters that the Russian Naval attaché had word of this. He had departed about twelve hours after we had. Of course, we couldn't allow him to find us together or it would have embarrassed the Norwegian government. So, we were moving just one step ahead of this fellow all the time. We stayed in this inn and my escort warned me that the proprietor was a “quisling” which is a Nazi sympathizer. We had to be very circumspect to not let him get onto what I was doing. When the Germans were driven out of there, the British moved in first, and then the Americans had quite a few people over there. The emphasis on amphibious type of operations after the Normandy Landing had been taken off so much to straight land warfare. We didn't have any intelligence whatsoever on the beaches. If you had to introduce a force again in there, where would you land? Even back in 1948-1949 we were thinking ahead that maybe someday we would have to. Of course, we haven't had to, but in those days, you didn't know. So, that was about it for that duty.

Donald R. Lennon:

The Russian attaché never did catch-up with you?

William K. Jones:

No, he never did. We got back. He never could prove anything, but he knew darn well we were out there. They were a very suspicious crowd, the Russians, and very close-knit. We used to have a monthly luncheon of attachés. It always used to amuse me because the Eastern Bloc would always be together in a group, particularly the Russians in the group. They wouldn't mingle like all the others would. Most of the others would say “hello” and sit just anywhere. I always used to love to go up to one of them in front of his cohorts and call him by name and say, “Well Boris, that was sure a great time we had last night. You'll have to come over to the house again.” Or course, the poor guy would just about die. You'd see all of them look at him and then he'd be doing some fast talking. I would like to, when we sat down for lunch, I'd always try to sit right in the Russian deal. Of course, I never could speak a word of Russian, but they were sure that I understood Russian. They always tried to trick me into admitting it. Well, that was just foolishness, but it was always fun to see their reaction to it.

So, the Korean War started and headquarters ordered me home immediately and sent a replacement over. They said I had to go to Headquarters, Marine Corps. I didn't want to go to Headquarters, Marine Corps; I wanted to go back to FMF. I was told by the detailers that, “No, I had had my war, and now it was some other guy's turn.” I never subscribed to that philosophy and I fought it bitterly when I was in charge of personnel there at headquarters during the Vietnamese War between tours in Vietnam. That is a false philosophy. Anyone who has proven his capabilities to command on the battlefield in combat should be utilized. That's no place to qualify someone. It is understandable that a fellow who hasn't had command in combat is going to want it, but his desires vis-a-vis what is best for those men if nothing. So, it's a common thing. It is a common thing that has happened in all wars and should be guarded against. A man should be just as proud of turning in a first-rate staff job as they are of having a command in combat. Without the planning and the dedication and the intelligence and imagination of the staff officer, the combat commander can do nothing at all.



Donald R. Lennon:

Doesn't promotion come much quicker in combat than it does in staff?

William K. Jones:

Well, it does in the Army, or at least it used to. I don't know what they do now. The Air Force and the Army in the Second War would have full colonels that were only twenty-five years old. I've known men in the Army in which one guy was sent to the Presidio in San Francisco as a first lieutenant and another fellow was sent to a combat unit as a first lieutenant and in a couple of years, this guy at the Presidio is still a first lieutenant, and the other guy is a colonel. But, that's not the way they do it in the Marine Corps or the Naval services. Sure if you have a good combat record as commander, why that helps you get selected; but if you have not, you are not going to get passed over if you have done a real fine job in whatever assignment you have had. I've known men that have made two star general without a single personal decoration in the Marine Corps because they always did whatever job they were assigned and they did it well. They felt kind of funny when they would bump up against their contemporaries who had a lot more ribbons than they did, but it just didn't make that difference when it came to promotion. I've known men who have had a chest full of ribbons which were passed over when they reached whatever their plateau is, because everyone seems to have their plateau. If a fellow is an outstanding captain, he might fall flat on his face when he makes major. Or, if a fellow had made an outstanding lieutenant colonel and when he puts on his eagles he could just be nothing. It doesn't usually happen, but just because a fellow is a great colonel, doesn't mean that he is going to be a great general.

Well, then, at headquarters I served for three years almost in the operations section and made colonel. I got my eagles there. We developed a plan that was of some interest. It was a CPX. It was the first one that had ever been held at headquarters level. We wrote up a regular one, just like the formats for the command post exercises that they have today. You have a general situation which you outline which is just what the term implies. Then you have these special situations which cause certain reactions. I am proud to say that I came up with this idea. I had a little trouble selling it because it caused all of the headquarters section a lot of extra work. My plan was that we would have to move the 3rd Marine Division out to Korea. The Korean War was going on. We had the 1st Marine Division committed. The 3rd Marine Division was just more or less on papers, you might say.

The first thing we did before I get onto the CPX, I might comment on, concerned the Inchon Landing. When we were forced back into the Pusan Perimeter, we sent from Camp Pendleton the only full strength, battle-ready, regimental combat team that we had. Because in the short time between World War II, when we were over 500,000, and the Korean War, we had gone down to seventy some odd thousand. We had gone onto a very skeletal type organization called the "J-Tables" in which you didn't have full strength squads. You would only have two squads instead of three for a platoon and two platoons instead of three for a company and two companies instead of three for a battalion--that type of thing. So, the 5th Marines, the 5th RCT was put together under the command of a Colonel named R. L. Murray. Well, really Crulaux put them together first and then he went out to be General Shepherd's operation officer.

General Shepherd at that time was the commanding general, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. They got them out in a hurry to the Pusan Perimeter where they conducted themselves in such a great job. Then, General MacArthur came up with the idea of wanting to make the landing at Inchon and hit the North



Koreans in the rear. He wanted a Marine division to lead the landing. Well, we had to get together the elements of a division besides the 5th RCT. We really collected them from all over. We had a battalion aboard afloat in the Mediterranean then as we do now. We sent them over down through the Suez Canal. We had some other units out on Hawaii. We sent them out, and we got together from all over from the East Coast and Camp Lejeune as well. We got these various units which were thrown together and made into the 1st Marine Division which landed at Inchon. With the help of the subsequent Army units that were landed, we broke the back of the North Koreans and they had to retreat back over the Yalu. That started the whole thing of course.

Well, everyone thought that I was kind of nutty about wanting to have a command post exercise about sending the 3rd Marine Division which had been developed by then into a division, as the strength of the corps was going up all the time. We had to have replacements to go out to the 1st Division. So, we finally exercised this thing, in which they had to write the messages necessary to fill-up the 3rd Division which was out on the West Coast. The officer's detail and the enlisted detail had to write exercise messages to the 2nd Division down at Camp Lejeune that you will send so many men of this MOS and this rank and so forth. It was just right down to the line, this CPX. We exercised it for about five days. Then, after it was over we completely critiqued it and everyone was pretty happy about it. Well, it so happened that in the meantime, General Shepherd had become the commandant and he thought it was a good idea. The idea was approved by my boss who was then General Tom Warren, a brigadier general. He backed me up. The Chief of Staff was General Jerry Thomas at that time. He thought it was a good idea. They made all these other staff sections cooperate.

It turned out that one day shortly after we had done this thing, about a month afterwards, General Shepherd went to a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They had had a request from MacArthur for another Marine division because he felt that by landing another division in Japan, that it would add credence and help to force the armistice talk. Of course the war had gone along with the Chongjin Reservoir situation and all that. They were trying to get the armistice talk started concerning the 30th parallel. MacArthur felt that he had to have some sort of a credible indication that the United States was ready to go after them again if they didn't agree to this deal. So, he wanted it. He really didn't care if it was a Marine division or any kind of division. He wanted another division right now. When they asked the Army how soon they could get a division over there, they said somewhere in the region of two months. Well, when they asked General Shepherd, of course, he called back over to his chief of staff who called a meeting right away. He said, "The commandant wants to know how soon?" "Well," we said, "ten days." He said how could we say that? We told him that we had just completed the exercise and had all the messages written and knew exactly. It was not just made up. They couldn't just order someone from Lejeune that wasn't there. We said all we have to do is just to take the exercise classification off and put out the word and your 3rd Marine Division could start moving in ten days. Well, of course, when he told the chiefs that, they just couldn't believe him. Well, he told them that we had just exercised it and that's just exactly what we did. So, it just turned out fortuitously. It was lucky.

So, we just got the 3rd Division over there to Japan and I presume it had whatever effect MacArthur wanted. The 3rd Division relieved, in due course, the 1st Division in Korea. The 1st Division moved back to Camp Pendleton. That's why the 3rd Division now is out in the Pacific, and has been and was during



the Vietnamese War. They ended up in Vietnam after the Korean War when we moved to Okinawa. The Army did, too. Then, the 3rd Marine Division was the first Marine division to go on and land in Vietnam up at Da Nang. Then, when they started breaking down and withdrawing from Vietnam, the 3rd Marine Division came out first and went back to Okinawa. Then, the 1st Marine Division went back to Pendleton. That's where they remain today.During the time that I was in Korea, the armistice was signed in August of 1953. I was on leave on my way over there at the time. So, I didn't see any combat. The first six months I was the G-3 of the division. We were under the Army I Corps at the left flank. We were up by the Imjin River. That's where the Freedom Bridge was built and that's where we exchanged the prisoners between sides. So, we were involved in providing security for what they called "Big Switch" and "Little Switch," they were the two prisoner exchanges. Our prisoners would come back and they would be debriefed. That was very touching, of course. You would see them land and get off these trucks and so happy to be back. Then, we would send the Korean and Chinese prisoners back up. Of course, a lot of them wouldn't go. Thousands of them wouldn't go. Those that did go, they would go up on the train and as they reached Freedom Bridge, they would throw all the clothing that we had outfitted them with out the window. They were afraid to go back and have anything and they were cursing us and all that kind of stuff.

Donald R. Lennon:

Those that did not go back, did they remain in South Korea?

William K. Jones:

Yes, they were Koreans. I don't think any of the Chinese remained behind. Mainly the ones that stayed were the Koreans that didn't want to go back up North. They stayed and are there to this day. The figures are up to about 23,000 that wouldn't go back. The North Koreans and Chinese were trying to say that they had to go back. Comparatively few prisoners went back. All of ours came back except the well-known- about twenty guys. That's when they set up Panmunjom where they put the International Armistice Commission. It was made up of Poland, India, Sweden and I don't remember the other two.

The only reason I really had any contact with them was that later on after the "Big and Little Switch," I was given a regiment of the 1st Marines and I was assigned to general outpost which was across our whole division front on the north side of the Imjin River. The purpose of the general outpost was to fight a delaying action and fall back across the river until we . . . our main battle positions were all dug in and heavily fortified just to the south of the Imjin River. I presume it is that way today. So, I found out that an old friend of mine, a Swedish Army officer, a post artillery officer, was on this thing. I had he and his whole Swedish contingent down. We wined them and dined them and gave them a demonstration and let them ride in our tanks. They were some very fine soldiers that were out there. Bruce Clark who was in command of I Corps, his operations officer was a guy named Abrams who was a colonel and I worked closely with him. He was a very nice guy. He later, of course, relieved Westmoreland as the commander of our forces in Vietnam and then later was Army Chief of Staff. He was a fine, fine soldier. General Blackshear Bryan relieved General Clark as the I Corps commander. He too was a fine, fine commander. They always used to scratch their heads about their command because they had two Army divisions in this corps, and they had three South Korean divisions. They had this Marine division and a Commonwealth division which was made up of Canadians, and the Turkish contingent was thrown into it. They were hard to “shave” and they did just about what they damn well pleased. The Marines were



kind of hard to “shave” and we just sort of did things the way we wanted to do it. So, these Army boys were very, very tolerant and very patient.

Donald R. Lennon:

There were no incidents or violations?

William K. Jones:

No. We didn't have any. We mostly tried to keep people from running into these mine fields. The battles swept back and forth across there, and most of the mine fields were unmarked.

I came back from Korea and was again assigned to Quantico, where I was a G-3 there under General Thomas from 1954 to 1956. That was just a routine proposition. I was providing support for the direction and operational planning to the various units that make-up the thing. The only incident that sticks in my mind was when I really got into trouble down there with the brigadier general who had command of the Marine Corps Educational Center named Barrow Bahr(?). He was a fine man. He was usually very friendly. I had an assistant, a G-3 and Lieutenant Colonel named Dick Strickler who was a big football star at the University of Maryland in his day. He was a wonderful guy, but he looked ugly as sin. So, everyone called him "Daisy Mae" because he was so ugly. It so happened that in those days the Marine barracks at H and I every winter after parade season would fertilize the grass. The way they would fertilize it, this was still before the wide use of Scott's and other commercial fertilizer, was with the plain old horse manure. The Marine Corps at Quantico had a stable. They still do as far as I know. So, each fall there would come a routine requisition down from the Marine barracks from H and I for a load of horse manure. Well, of course, instead of sending it over, "Daisy Mae" got a hold of this thing, and he got kind of cute.

Instead of routing it to the post stable, he routed it to the Marine Corps Educational Center. Well, of course, the message was there. I got this call from a very angry general who wanted to know if I thought I was funny or something. It was the first I had heard of it. I called this great big old "Daisy Mae" in and asked, "What in the hell did you do that for?" He told me that he just couldn't resist it. He said they put out more of that stuff than the post stable does. On the whole, it was a lot of fun.

Then, I was sent to have command of the Basic School in 1956 to 1958 and that was a wonderful experience. It was dealing then with the new commissioned officers and all officers whether they came from the Naval Academy, or the few from West Point, or wherever they came from, the various colleges or from the ranks. They have to go through basic school. They still do, just to teach them what it is to be a Marine officer. It was a lot of fun working with these fine young men. About a third of them were married, so my wife enjoyed working with their wives. These little girls were just fresh married, most of them. She and other older Marine wives would tell them what the ropes were and have teas and things like that to help them get settled and feel at home. We, of course, developed the training. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To this day, I run into this whole generation of field grade officers that were students under me there. I run into them all over. That's kind of heart-warming. There were many normal and interesting and funny things that happened, but I won't take up the time with that. They don't have any particular bearing or point or lesson to learn from them.

Then, I was fortunate for being sent from the basic school down to the recruit depot down at Parris Island; that was in 1958 to 1960. The reason I felt that I was so fortunate was because I was about the



only one that ever had both of those jobs. Here on one side I was familiar with the training of lieutenants, and I went down and I was in charge of the training of the fresh start enlisted men. That's just as challenging and entirely different, of course. It was a few years after the Ribbon Creek Disaster. After that, they had put a brigadier general in command of the recruit training regiment. I was the first colonel to have command of it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Will Parris Island ever get over that stigma?

William K. Jones:

Well, they've already got another one.

Donald R. Lennon:

But that one was the one that always sticks in everyone's mind.

William K. Jones:

I don't know. It's just one of those things. This is just done by a drill instructor against orders. It's just a matter of human nature and fallacy that seemed to go along for so many years. Then one of these guys takes it on himself and that shakes up everyone. That's just what we had happen recently there, too.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, the training is so rigorous that I should think . . .

William K. Jones:

But it is not necessary. It isn't necessary to lay a glove on them or touch them. The rules are very strict. You can't even touch a man, because it isn't reasonable. Now, you can shout at him, but there are a lot of sophomoric type things that these guys were pulling that just weren't necessary. So, it was a constant watching them. But the best ones never did it. It is just like any successful leader or any successful businessman, the most successful ones are not these bullies. These guys that yell and scream and throw tantrums are not the successful ones. The richest men and most successful men are so down-to-earth that you would think that they are just the guy next door. It's the same way in the military. We used to call it and still do there. It is a difference between leadership and drivership. The poor leader has to resort to drivership. Why? Because he doesn't have any self-confidence. So, he resorts to bullying. That's what happens. Once in a while these guys come along and there you are.

But, it was a rewarding tour. And, of course, you can see so many funny incidents that would take me all afternoon to go through that. But, in watching these kids, the warming thing is to see this kid when he comes out at the end of this training, and he is standing about eight feet tall. He is so proud of himself. Then to see the reaction of his father and mother when they see it. I've seen many of the parents where the mother would look at the kid, and some of those boys, we take as much as fifty pounds off them. Well, the mother would hardly recognize them and would break into tears. The father would be beaming with pride. The kid would be proud of himself. They were so proud of their kids. I've had several fathers get me to the side and say, "Boy, what you did to the little bastard. I've been trying to get him to call me 'sir' for years. Did you know that he called me 'sir' today?" These kids had caused quite a bit of trouble at home messing around with the wrong crowd. That part of the tour was very rewarding.

There were some stories . . . well, just as an example, a drill instructor caught this one recruit, and he told him to go over to the PX and buy an athletic supporter. Well, he talked to the recruits and this one had not purchased this athletic supporter as he was directed to do so. The drill instructor asked him why he didn't. Well, the youngster said that he was afraid to. The drill instructor said, "Why are you afraid to



buy an athletic supporter?" The kid said, "Well, first of all, you made me buy a comb and then you cut off all my hair. Next, you made me buy a toothbrush and then you pulled all my teeth. I wasn't about to buy an athletic supporter."

Another humorous thing was when a dentist friend told that one Monday morning he had had a particularly enjoyable weekend and had been out to a big party on Sunday night. He was suffering from a hangover. He was just visualizing the hundreds of mouths he was to be looking into that week, because there is a large dental detachment at all recruit depots since they have so much work to do. The average youngster does not have his teeth in all that good shape when he comes into the service. The drill instructors require that in the barracks there, they have an office right in the middle and their platoons sleep on each end. Should someone want to talk to the drill instructor, they have to stand squarely in the doorway, "square to the hatch," they call it, and knock on the lintel three times very loud. Many times the drill instructor would purposely ignore them and make them do it again because a lot of the training is to teach the kid not to be scared. Some of them have never been aggressive in their life and that is why a lot of the training is to develop confidence in themselves. Well, it so happened that the first recruit assigned to this young dentist came and stood in the middle of the doorway. The dentist was there with his head in his hands, as he told me. Well, this recruit came and hit that side of the doorway three times just like his DI told him to. Well, of course, that banging didn't help the dentist's head that particular morning. The dentist looked up at the youngster and said, "Son, why did you do that? Why don't you use your head?" The kid said, "Aye, aye sir." And this kid stepped over and he hit the door three times with his head. So, that just showed the type of the discipline that they installed in those kids down there. I've already given you my account of Private Broadvent. That's another very humorous deal, So, I won't repeat that. There were no other incidents. It was just a challenging training of fine, young Americans, It was very rewarding.

From Parris Island, I was assigned to the Naval War College as a student. I went up there in 1960 to 1961. I was very senior really to be going at that time. I had had orders before to top level school. They had been cancelled for me to have another job. This was about the last chance that I would have. I was very senior. In fact, the only senior one up there, besides the vice-admiral in command of the school, was a Mexican admiral. We had a very pleasant year in Newport. It is a very fine school there at the War College. We enjoyed the whole curriculum and the challenge.

It turned out to be absolutely invaluable, because my next assignment was to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Having had this training at the Naval War College, just like I would have received had I gone to the Army War College or Air Force or even National War College, I was familiar with Joint Staff procedures. I could then fit into that job comfortably. I was in the J-3 Directorate of the Joint Staff. I was in charge of one of the four sections. It was called the General Operations section. We developed the first big CPX again which we named "High Heels." There was no good reason except that the project officer came up with the name and my superiors bought it. They just wanted a code name. That is still being run to this day. Fifteen years later they still have an exercise every year. As far as I know they still call it "High Heels." The idea was that it would help the Joint Chiefs exercise their staffs. Messages would go all over the world to the other commanders on a general or special situation. It would run on for several days. During this time, various communications would have to be sent and decisions would have



to be made. It was just a good exercise. They still have them going on. I also was in charge with starting the organization which is now called the "War Room." Before that, it was a very small sort of communications center. The only one that really had a command center was the Air Force. The Joint Chiefs, in fact, in those days availed themselves of the sophisticated communication equipment and data processing equipment that the Air Force had used and developed over the years. Of course, a great deal of their expertise was drawn upon to develop what turns into what is now a War Room. This was a fairly interesting time, of course. It was just before the Cuban Crisis, but it was building up to that so we had some pretty interesting alerts down there. After that I was selected for brigadier general while I still was on that job and as such was promoted out of the job and I was moved over to Headquarters Marine Corps. This was 1962October.

Donald R. Lennon:

Just before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

William K. Jones:

Right, because that happened after that; I was at Headquarters then.

Donald R. Lennon:

Late in October.

William K. Jones:

There I was assigned as the legislative assistant to the Commandant. That means that you are in charge of the liaison with Capitol Hill for the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps had a very small organization. In those days I had two officers (helpers) and three or four clerks and that was it. We worked closely with the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) that was over in the Pentagon and services the Secretary of the Navythe whole department of the Navy less the Marine Corps. We handle our own . . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

This is primarily to keep Congressmen informed of Marine needs, Marine programs?

William K. Jones:

Precisely, and answer their queries because they got a tremendous amount of mail from their constituents either wanting information about their sons or daughters that are in the services or complaining about what happened to their sons and daughters. They get a lot of mail from service people in which they are complaining about something and so they then forward it over and then you are supposed to provide the basis for a reply to them. Then you have to arrange for all of the hearingsthe budget hearings. As they are scheduled, it's up to you to keep the Commandant or your chief of servicethey all do the same although the Air Force, Army and Navy are all larger and they have to have a larger number of people involved in this thing. That was very interesting, of course. Then, right after that, was the Cuban Crisis. I was there when President Kennedy was assassinated. I'll never forget that day. It came over the loudspeaker. They gave the announcement that they had shot President Kennedy.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now where did you say that your office was?

William K. Jones:

I was at the Headquarters, Marine Corps. Now, Headquarters, Marine Corps is not in the Pentagon. It is in what they call the Navy Annex. That is right up the hill. It is right up the hill from the Pentagon.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, it isn't part of the Navy Yard is it?



William K. Jones:

No, we have our museum down there, but it is not even close to the Navy Yard. It is just up the hill and looks down on the Pentagon. It was built as a warehouse for the Pentagon. So, for elevators, they still have these freight elevators.

Donald R. Lennon:

What kind of pandemonium resulted when the announcement was made of the Kennedy assassination? What kind of reaction?

William K. Jones:

The reaction was shock and disbelief. Kennedy was very popular with the Marines. He was pro-Marines. So, naturally that would make him popular with us.

Donald R. Lennon:

I think I recall that we were placed on alert immediately.

William K. Jones:

Yes. We went into this DEFCON as they call them. Defense Conditions A, B, C, and on down, or one, two, three, four, five. We formed up a round-the-clock watch and we took turns on it. There was always a brigadier general or a major general--there was always a general officer available. He would spend the night right there by our "War Room" at our headquarters. He would be available for any queries from the Pentagon or to pass on any word that required a decision from the "Decision Makers" like the Commandant or the Chief of Staff or his designated senior advisors. That lasted for eleven days, as I recall. But there was really no other action taken for that other than all the units were placed on alert.

So then I received orders there to take command of the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California, which is double-hatted because you have command of the base and you also have command of what's called “force troops,” fleet marines to be more specific. Force troops are those troops that are too specializedthere's not enough of them to be an integral part of a division. It's just like the Army has the same thingcore troops, Army troops, that will serve as several outfits. These are things like the Hawk anti-aircraft battalions. These are long-range artillery 155s, Force engineers, heavy artillery (?) companies, Force service battalionthat kind of thing. So you had two staffs--one for the Force troops--because you wore two hats and you had two bosses. You wore your Fleet Marine Force hat when you worked for commanding general Fleet Marine Corps Pacific out at Pearl Harbor and for the base hat you worked for the commandant of the Marine Corps back here. It was a very interesting job in the Mojave Desert and it's the largest base that the Marine Corps has. It's about 660 square miles of desert. It's over 900,000 acres. It was part of where Patton trained his tank corps for his African deal.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was kind of a different type of training you could do there than what you needed for Vietnam.

William K. Jones:

Well, yes it was, although it was desert and I expected it to be flat like you saw in various pictures in. . . . But it's very rugged terrain and very deep with high mountains and some cover. The desert floor is covered with . . . it has a substance in it called “caliche” that causes it to hardenit makes a crust. In fact they have a little nine-hole golf course out there, and when they built it, being in the biggest sand box in the United States, they had to import sand for the traps. If you put that sand out there in the trap, with the coming of the first rain the caliche on the sand would just harden and your golf ball would just bounce right out of the trap. When you flew over that area where Patton trained, you could still see the tank tracks. Way back in World War II he had trained there and he built this huge sand table in the desert with cat walks around it in which he perfectly depicted that section of the desert. It must have



been about as big as a football field. It was about fifty square yards. He would conduct these instructions to his officers and his subordinates would to his junior officers on these things. They would go out there and practice them, and they have it still out there. People have stolen a lot of lumber. They should have made that a state park. We used to go out there for picnics with our wives and children. We would take troops out there to see it.

It was a very interesting area dotted with these oases. They had a big exercise out there while I commanded and it extended from the Colorado River on over into my command. They had two armored divisions, the 1st and 2nd Armored. They had airborne divisions out there. The Army conducted massive maneuvers-- the Army Air Forceout there. I was a Marine observer on this and enjoyed it thoroughly. I got to know both of the commanders of the armored divisions. They were great commanders. I would fly from one to the other and it was great fun because I knew what the other fellow was going to do. I couldn't tell them. Of course, they didn't want me to. It was extremely interesting. One section of that reservation is where they trained the Apollo for the moon deal. There is this one section that looks very much like the moon. There is this other place just off the base they call "Big Rock," and that's where all of the people who believe in these unidentified flying objects (UFO) meet once a year. There is a fellow that owns a restaurant there. He claims that one of them landed there. In fact, he had a daughter, and she claimed that she was impregnated by one of these martians. He believed it, I guess, because she got away with the story. It was an interesting area to be in. We met some of the most interesting people we have ever met. There were very talented artists there. Some of the movie stars like James Cagney and Ralph Bellamy had places out there. Life was very informal.

So, from there I received orders to Vietnam as General Westmoreland's operations officer. They had formed what they would call the Combat Operations Center.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is now 1965?

William K. Jones:

Yes. All the services wanted the job. But, the Chief of Staff finally decided that the Marines rated it. So, I was sent over to that job.

Donald R. Lennon:

Had you received your second star by this time?

William K. Jones:

No. I received that just before I came home from that job in late 1966.

[End of Part 3]



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #33
William K. Jones
January 28, 1977
Interview #4

William K. Jones:

I reported into San Francisco to the Marine command for further air transportation overseas to Vietnam. I arrived in Vietnam on the twenty-fourth of December in 1965. The Military Assistance Command Vietnam, referred to as MACV, had taken over several hotels of different sizes in Saigon and turned them into BAQ and enlisted men's quarters for those people assigned to the headquarters. Rooms were assigned according to rank. Since I was a brigadier general, I was assigned a suite consisting of a bedroom and a living room and a bath. The hotels were very run down. It wasn't a very comfortable living, but it was adequate. The meals were prepared in the hotel by the Army cooks. They were on the whole very good. In the hotel, there was an officer's bar. That was the entire amount of entertainment.

I reported in to MACV and was assigned to the J-3 Section. I was told that I was to take over a newly formed center within this rather large section called the Combat Operation Center. This was similar in concept to the National Command Center in the Pentagon or in any of the service's headquarters. It was here that the day by day operations of the war were handled. The directions from General Westmoreland or his designated staff officers to go out to the field would go through the regular communication center. This was very large and was not part of the Combat Operation Center.

A file was kept on everything that went out in the Combat Operation Center and all incoming messages. It was manned twenty-four hours. It was worked completely by three separate teams of officers and enlisted men who were specialists in their various fields in intelligence, operations, personnel, or logistics. It was our job if we got a request to come up with a recommended solution. I had a certain amount of authority to go ahead and authorize. Then, there were other things that I would have to take up to the J-3 for his authorization. If he was not in town or in his office, then I would go to the chief of staff.

The J-3 at that time was General William DePuy. He is a four star general at Fort Monroe ATC at present. The chief of staff was then a major general and later became a four star general, General William Rosson. They were extremely fine gentlemen, very smart, very bright.

General Westmoreland, who was also a very inspiring man and a very dedicated man, would leave every morning at about 7:30. He would get into his office at about 6:30 or 7:00 and would try to leave for the field at about 7:30. He would usually get in from the field about 5:00. Then, he would work in the office and get home for dinner at about 8:00. This was his routine about seven days a week. So, naturally, mine was fashioned after his. General DePuy, the J-3, and the chief of staff were not able to leave



headquarters very often because there were many diverse responsibilities. If General Westmoreland was going north, he wanted me to go south and vice versa. His assistant commander of MACV would also go out. So, I would have to find out where my two seniors were. The assistant commander of MACV was a three star lieutenant general of the Army. I had to find out where they were, and it was my job to go where they were not going.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is actually out in the combat zone?

William K. Jones:

Yes. I had under my operational control as the Director of the Combat Operations Center an Army aviation company which had both Army Huey helicopters and fixed-wing observation aircraft. So, I could either fly fixed-wing or go by helicopter.

After we would get in that evening, General Westmoreland would want both of us to tell what we saw. He would tell us what he saw and the problems he had run into and listen to what problems we had run into. Then he would give his orders as to what to do about them. This was a normal routine for our day. Our job was to visit not only the major commands, but also to visit the Army Special Forces small outposts along the border. Here they would have a handful of Army green berets, and the rest would be either Chinese mercenaries, or Vietnamese popular forces rather than their regular forces. We also visited the advisors. We had American advisors at all corps, division, regiment, and battalion levels with the South Vietnamese Army, Navy, and Air Force. Normally after I had reported to General Westmoreland and if it were a light day and there were no dispatches to higher authorities, I would get back to my hotel at about 7:00.After about a month, I was assigned a villa that had been taken over by MACV. All general officers were assigned villas. Sometimes they were assigned two or three of them. In those days, we were allowed to have stewards. I brought one steward from the States. The Marine Corps sent out what they called a general officers mess kit which had dishes and kitchen equipment. So, my steward set up this villa for me. I invited the five senior Marine colonels that were assigned to MACV to live with me.

Donald R. Lennon:

I am surprised that the Viet Cong did not try to attack these villas in an attempt to knock out the high ranking officers.

William K. Jones:

These villas were surrounded by high walls. They were French-style villas. A lot of them probably did belong to the French before they were run out of Saigon. They were surrounded by barbed wire and broken glass on top of these walls. They had a twenty-four hour police guard on them.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, they were properly secured.

William K. Jones:

Yes.

This was closer to headquarters, but I still was assigned a car with a Vietnamese driver. We all showed our plates with our rank on them. We drove all around Saigon to show that we weren't going to be intimidated by the Viet Cong. At the same time, we never walked to work. That was just too obvious. We worked in uniform and wore uniforms all the time. We hardly ever wore civilian clothes. There were some times when General Westmoreland would invite you over for dinner, and he might designate



civilian-attire. That would simply mean slacks and a short-sleeved shirt. Normally, everyone wore their short- sleeve khaki uniform unless you went out in the field, and then you wore your field uniform. So, I was in my field uniform most of the time.

I didn't go out in the field on Sundays. I would still work, but that was the day that I would normally go to church. Then I would go to the office and catch up on some of the paperwork that had piled up. If for some reason I had an appointment on Sunday out in the combat zone, why then I would go on out; otherwise, I attended my normal routine.

There was very little that the officers had for diversion. There were some fairly good places to eat out in Saigon. The Circle Sportif was a French club and a good place to eat. It was purely French at one time. They did not allow the Vietnamese in this club. After the Vietnamese took it over, it was a Vietnamese club. The various members of the diplomatic community used it. Any officer in the American Armed Forces could use it. They had a pretty good dining room. They also had a swimming pool and some tennis courts. I never used these but some of the officers did.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you really have time for diversions like these?

William K. Jones:

No. That's why I never used it. Some of the officers seemed to find time. In my job, I certainly didn't find time. They had movies but it was just too difficult to get transportation to them. They had them at the BOQ. I used to go watch a movie before I moved in my villa. This helped kill time at night. After that, there wasn't anything for diversion other than to read a novel. That was about the size of our daily routine there. During the period while I was there, they had the Buddhist uprising up in the I Corps. The I Corps in Vietnam was commanded by the Marines under General Westmoreland. The first ground combat troops to arrive in Vietnam were the 3rd Marine Division. They were sent down from Okinawa and they landed at Da Nang. A few months later, the 1st Marine Division arrived from Camp Pendleton. It became known as The 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. Their operating area was the I Corps. The Vietnamese commanding general was called the Commanding General of I Corps. His headquarters was in Da Nang. He was a Marine three star general. They were responsible for the northern four provinces.

In the spring of 1965, the Buddhists rose in protest against the Vietnamese government. They were burning themselves, and having mob scenes, and trying to break down the government. The U.S. troops had the responsibility to try to keep some semblance of order and not have a massacre occur. It was a very ticklish situation.

Donald R. Lennon:

Just how were you supposed to react to this?

William K. Jones:

Well, for instance, I recall one incident that happened up at Da Nang. I was not there at the time, but I used to go up there often. Sometimes I would spend the night up there, because I had many friends in Da Nang. It was sometimes more convenient to go up there and spend the night and take the next day going to some other part of this big corps area. The I Corps was at that time the hottest area. This was the corps area nearest to North Vietnam.



At one time the II Corps area was the hottest. That was the time when they came through the Hue-Da Nang Valley up on the plateau and tried to split South Vietnam in half. That was very very hot at one time, but at this time it was not.

The Vietnamese regular forces were coming across the bridge going into Da Nang. They were going into the Buddhist courtyard to burn it down. So, General Walt sent his operations officer to meet them who happened to be Colonel John Chaisson. He went down to the bridge and bluffed them out of it. The Vietnamese commander said, "If you don't move aside, I am going to shoot you." He bluffed them out of it. Later Colonel Chaisson became the Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack shortly after he retired four years ago as a lt. general. He was a very fine man. That's one example of the thing.

The Buddhists were also after various commanders. The commanders would be chased out by the Buddhists. Then, Saigon would send in a replacement, and he would get chased out. They would always come running to the Marine commander who was Lt. Gen. Walt at the time. General Walt would hide them under his bed literally until he could get them out and get them across to where the I Corps Command Post was in a different part of Da Nang. General Walt wrote a book on this, and I have it here someplace, so, I'm not going to go into this any further. I will loan the book to you if you'd like. You can check out anything that you need to amplify.

Being familiar with the capabilities as well as the limitations of amphibious operations dealing with a coastline of tremendous length of over a thousand miles, we would ask for these various landings by the 7th Fleet who had with them at all times a reinforce battalion of Marines. They were not under the operational control of General Westmoreland, but he was allowed to move that float battalion up and down the coast where he considered he might have to use them as a strategic reserve, or have them land just to support some hard pressed situation. I was allowed to move them and keep him informed as to why I did it. Sometimes, if an operation was coming off in any of the corps areas, he would want them to be down there. That included the supporting naval gunfire.

The Three MAF provided what was referred to as the ANGLITO which was the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Teams. This was made up of both Marine and Navy officers and the necessary communicators with the communication equipment. They worked with Army units in calling in Navy and Marine air strikes or naval gunfire. In addition, we would work out in conjunction with the 7th Fleet various battalion size raids. We would send them in, not with the idea of advancing inland all that far, but to go in for some particular reason.

One such incursion took place up in the I Corps area. The Marines of I Corps in this operation swept towards this Marine battalion that had landed from the sea in back of the enemy. Therefore, they caught them in a vise. This was a very successful operation.

Another landing operation in which we used the battalion was to go into the RUNG SAT Special Zone or the approaches to Saigon. This river that led up to Saigon for many many miles would wind through this swamp which was very large and very densely forested. It was sort of a Cypress Garden effect. The Viet Cong would hide out in there. There were little patches of high ground where you could build huts. They



would build platforms above the water. For centuries it had been used by pirates. These pirates would hide in there and prey on the shipping that was going up to Saigon and down from Saigon. The Viet Cong would do the same thing. They would also go in and raid the outskirts of Saigon and then fall back in there. It was almost impossible to get them out of there. We did have a fairly successful operation by putting the Marines in there and using their boats to go through the channels. They were just sweeping through there and at least harassing them. Of course, it is very hard to corner anyone in something like that.

When I first arrived there, there wasn't any really agreed upon doctrine about amphibious operations. So, I made the point with the MACV Headquarters and received their permission to get together with the 7th Fleet representatives and the representatives from the Marine Corps command in Pearl Harbor. We would draw up an agreement as to how the amphibious operations would be conducted in that theater. This was done and completed by the late spring of 1966. This was hammered out in accordance with the joint doctrine that had been agreed to in Washington by three of the four services. The Army, Navy and Marines had agreed to it, but the Air Force had not signed it. This caused quite a bit of difficulty.

The first Air Force commander, General Joe Moore, was a very easy-going man. We didn't have very much trouble with him. We started having more and more of these amphibious operations.

His successor, General Momyer, was very much against the principle that he did not have complete control over the air space involved in any amphibious operation. That air space belongs to the fleet commander in the amphibious operation until the operation is over. The fleet commander is responsible for carrying out the mission. In other words, he is assigned a mission to seize an objective whether an island or piece of terrain. He has his Marines to project his power ashore to do that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, in an amphibious operation like that, would you use more helicopter support than you would fixed-wing?

William K. Jones:

No. You use fixed-wing for your close air support. You use naval gun-fire and fixed-wing aircraft to prepare the landing zone to get your troops in and get your artillery set up. Then, your fixed-wing aircraft has to continue to give you close air support. This is until you're in a position that if you would continue on . . . and this is a naval operation . . . why then you would put up your expeditionary airfields and the carriers would back off. The Marine aircraft would come ashore. This was nothing like that, of course. It was just a matter of during the duration of this thing. General Momyer didn't want that. He wanted to control all the airspace. There was a continual battle with the Air Force as to what control they had over the Marine aircraft. Finally, it was worked out in agreement under the overall supervision of General Westmoreland and MACV, because both the Air Force and the Marine Air belonged under him. He did see and allow the Marine Air Corps to support the Marines. They had trained together and talked the same language and understood the air ground team concept. The Marine Air did support Army units. The Army units liked to work with the Marines. The Vietnamese units were supported by the Marine Air. The Air Force was given the authority to assign them to support the Army, but just so many at a certain time.



One time General Westmoreland had to go out of the country to a conference back at Pearl Harbor with CINCPAC. One of these things was going on. Well, General Momyer was the next senior general, so he was acting MACV commander. Although the operation had already been agreed upon, he said they would not do it that way. So, it was a very ticklish position, but the Chief of Staff finally convinced him that he should go ahead and do it under the original arrangement. Afterwards, he could complain to General Westmoreland who was due to arrive the next day back in the country.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, that would have been countermanding General Westmoreland's orders.

William K. Jones:

Right.

He said, "Well, that's my responsibility, and I will explain it to him. This isn't the way to do it." So, we got over that.

When I first came there, General Westmoreland had directed that he wanted an amphibious operation. He directed the senior naval officer on his staff, who was called the Commander of Naval Forces of Vietnam and was a Rear Admiral, to come up to work with his MACV staff and come up with a plan for such a deal. So, we did. The Navy briefed General Westmoreland on the plan. My staff, as well as the Navy staff, was under the impression that General Westmoreland had agreed to it. So, we went ahead and got the concurrence with the 7th Fleet commander. When the time was running near, General Westmoreland said that he wanted to go over that once more. When he did, he said, "I want to change this and this. I'm going to do this and this and this."

I had to go to him. I had to give him the joint doctrine which had been signed. I had a copy of it. I took it to the Chief of Staff. I pointed out that the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Johnny Highland, couldn't agree to do that. It was his responsibility and he was in command until this thing was over. General Westmoreland was to tell him what he wanted done, but Highland had to be in command. General Westmoreland was going to change that arrangement which he was used to doing in his own command of MACV. This was a joint operation using forces that were assigned to him only for this purpose. They were in support of him. So, he came in from the field rather later that night. He didn't get in until around six or seven. He was dirty and hot and anxious to get on home to a shower and get some dinner. The Chief had me stand by, and he went in. Boy, pretty soon I was called in. I went in. General Westmoreland was absolutely furious. He said, "Jones, I understand you say I can't run my command the way I want to run it."

I told him, "No sir."

Here I am a. brigadier general and here is this four star madman. He was prancing up and down in back of his desk. He was really exercised. That's the only time I ever saw him that angry. I saw him for special reasons several times after that. He didn't know me very well then.

I said, "Well, General, this is how it's written. It is my duty as one of your staff officers to tell you that it would not be at all politic to do this, because it will go clear back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff." It would have, too.



So, he said, "Where does it say that?"

So, I handed it to him, and he looked at it, got mad, and threw the book on the desk.

He said, "I don't give a damn. President Johnson told me that I was going to run this war, and by God, I'm going to run it."

So, then there was a silence. The Chief was embarrassed. He had evidently been chewed out. So, we just stood there.

Then, he glared at me and said, "Well, what do you suggest we do?"

So, I suggested that we send for Admiral Highland. Because, I said, “You'll find out, I assure you, that his position is going to have to be. . . ."

He said, "Well, send for Johnny."

So, we sent a message out and requested that Admiral Highland fly in from his fleet for a meeting the next morning.

By the next morning, General Westmoreland was all simmered down after a good night's sleep. I think the next morning was Sunday, and he didn't usually go out in the field on Sunday either. We had the conference. It was behind closed doors, and I wasn't allowed in there. They came out after a while. Admiral Highland told him that it was right and that General Westmoreland had to back out of the operation. So, after that why everything was all right.

Donald R. Lennon:

Westmoreland could be pretty rough when he wanted.

William K. Jones:

He could be very rough.I found out. He didn't know me, I was fairly new. After that, he seemed to have absolute confidence in me.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, on an amphibious operation where you have the air support, how can it be well-coordinated if you had the Air Force in control of the air space?

William K. Jones:

Well, it couldn't be. Their system is not the same as the Marine Corps. There's been a running fight on this for years. The Army preferred the Marines' system of close air support.

The Air Force concept of close air support to the ground troops is simply not the same as what the ground troops' concept is--Army or Marines. This is understandable. Their concept for instance during the second war stated that close air support was anything out to five or six or seven hundred miles. Close air support to the Army or Marine Corps means interdiction of the battlefield right in front of you. This out to where the enemy might have his reserves mobilized not more than 10,000 yards. Well, maybe you go beyond the range of artillery. Our concept also was that we had aviators--ground control officers with the communications--right down there with the ground troops. So, these were guys that knew how to fly the airplane. They knew the capabilities and limitations. They could talk to the pilot in a language that they both understood. You'd give that fellow the target that you wanted to hit, and he



would send that message to his buddy up in the sky, and he'd hit it. If you'd try to send a message back to a central control area, which is basically the way the Air Force wanted to run it, and you wanted to hit the target in a square of a map giving map coordinates, there is no way.

Donald R. Lennon:

It's like dropping bombs in the jungle almost.

William K. Jones:

Worse, you drop bombs on your own troops. Basically, that is what it was.

My tour with General Westmoreland was very, very fulfilling. I didn't go on R & R. The reason is that my wife and I had a personal tragedy. We lost our sixteen year old son just five months before I had to go overseas. So, when General Westmoreland asked me if I would stay on with him for an extra year, I explained to him why I couldn't. I was afraid that if I went back on R & R, it would be too hard on both of us to part again.

After Vietnam, I went back to headquarters, Marine Corps. I had made two stars by this time. I had been promoted by General Westmoreland about a couple of weeks before I left. Since I had missed the previous Christmas away from my family, I went home a week prior to Christmas. I arrived home during the Christmas period. I had left my family in Washington while I served in Vietnam, so, I moved right back into this house.

After Christmas season and my leave was up, I reported to headquarters of the Marine Corps where I was assigned initially as the relief of Director of Personnel. General Walt had come back. The commandant wanted to keep his three stars for him. So, the only way that DOD would agree to this would be that if he created a Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower. He would be called the Director of Personnel and would have charge of both the personnel department and the G-1 Division. The Marine Corps at that time was organized on the general staff system. That's the G-1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Then, you had the personnel department and the quartermaster general up in the supply department. It's all been changed now into functional organizations. The other services had gone to this. We were the last to go to it. That made my title be the Assistant Director of Personnel, but I had the same office and the same duty as the old director of personnel.

That period was very interesting and educational to me. We were in a period of very rapid expansion because of the Vietnam War. We finally ended up at over 320,000 Marines. These were all recruited and trained and shipped over so that we could keep up our pipeline. At that time, a third of the Marine Corps was in Vietnam, and a third of the Corps was on their way home, and the other third was on their way out on training status. We, like other services, were trying to stick to a one-year tour of duty for the men. This was much better than the second war where you went out and stayed out. This was too much to ask of a man and his family. There were many challenges.

I enjoyed working for General Chapman who was the commandant. I admired him very much. He instituted many new managerial procedures. He required all of his general officers to attend data processing school. I was required to go to the IBM executive course on data processing.



We developed a system of resource management and it was called Marine Corps Personnel . . . and the acronym was MCPPRS. Every two weeks, we would all have to brief our portion of this book which was kept up to date. It had various charts of all the progress. It was a progress report. It was a reporting system. For instance, in personnel, you had such things as your goals on either a bar chart or straight line graph as to what your recruiting goals were and then how you were meeting those goals. This would help tell whether you were meeting those goals or falling short. Then, you would take the corrective actions. The same thing happened to reenlistments and the same thing happened to casualties and all those things. The G-1 had the same thing. He had to project how many men he had to come up with a budget card of the personnel part of the budget. The G-4 had to keep track of all his resources and the G-3 kept track of all his training resources and so forth. Then, we'd brief these reports to the commandant and the rest of the staff. Each week we had a briefing on MCPPRS. That way, we would get our instructions from the commandant as to what to do about it and talk out the problems. It was a very fine system. When we get to my tour as CGF from FPAC, I will refer to it again.

After two years there, I was sent back to Vietnam to command the Third Marine Division. I relieved General Ray Davis. At that time, the 3rd Marine Division had moved from Da Nang and was now responsible for the Quang Tri Province.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is in 1968?

William K. Jones:

This was in April, 1969, when I relieved General Davis. We were the closest province to the DMZ. We had quite a bit of activity in the Quang Tri Province considering that the war had simmered down quite a bit. This was after Khe Sanh and after Hue and the Tet offensive in Hue.

General Davis had developed a system of fire support. This consisted of picking a mountain top, clearing it, and leveling it enough so that you could emplace one battery of light artillery. This battery consisted of 105-guns carried in by helicopter. Everything had to be carried in by helicopter. That one battery then only required one rifle company to protect it on this small perimeter. It was very defensible sitting on top of the mountain. They would be well dug in with lots of barbed wire. The ground troops would operate out from there. This is not the security company, but the rest of the regiment would move against the enemy. They would then have artillery support.

Donald R. Lennon:

This would be the base?

William K. Jones:

This would be the base. There would be lots of them. As the action moved on, then you would establish other such bases. Then, you would just abandon the older bases and clean them out and blow everything up so at the enemy couldn't use them. They were wide openno camouflage-so that any enemy that moved up there could be strafed right off of it. You just had no mobility for your artillery in that very dense jungle. You would run into an open field ever so often. These fire support bases supported the troops that were operating very close to the Laotian and Cambodian border.

Khe Sanh was a Special Forces camp at one time and then later on expanded into a Marine fire support base. Then, it was abandoned after the Tet Offensive. There was no sense then in keeping it out there. It had served a very fine purpose because it tied up Nhoc who made a serious strategic error because he



didn't want to bypass that. It was astride his main supplies line which ran down this valley that ran to Hue. It ran straight as an arrow from the Laotian border and the Ho Chi Minh trail that came down on the other side of that border. So, he tied up two divisions trying to take Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive. Had he had those two divisions to throw against Hue and just contained the forces at Khe Sanh with maybe a regiment, the battle of Hue might have turned out a lot different. That's why we kept Khe Sanh. He didn't figure that out. There was a lot of public complaint about Westmoreland having these Marines bombed. We had casualties, of course, but we would have had a lot more casualties had Hue fallen.

We would have them come across the DMZ and raid our various refugee villages. We pretty well had cleared the Viet Cong infrastructure in that whole province. We were very active in civic affair type activities in helping the people rebuild their little villages and rebuild the dikes so that they could replant their rice. We would use our Marine bulldozers to pull their plows because many of their water buffaloes had been killed.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is part of the pacification program?

William K. Jones:

Yes.

We would run what we called the County Fair to dig out ever so often. After a time, fewer and fewer of them were necessary. You go in and try to flush out the Viet Cong, but you'd also take in your doctor and dentist and they'd treat the sick. We built hospitals and orphanages and helped them rebuild their churches. This is all part of the pacification deal.

We were very busy doing that and also doing a fair amount of fighting. Sometimes we would sweep for a couple of weeks to clean out. We would find out that a North Vietnam regiment or battalion had moved across the Demilitarized Zone. They didn't pay any attention to it. They just moved across it and supplied themselves across it, and it was just a farce as far as they were concerned. We were not allowed to go across it. We could bomb in it if we had something to shoot at, but we could not shoot on the other side of it.

I got to know some of the Vietnam commanders very well. I knew General Truong, a Major General, who had command of the First ARVN division which was their finest. That was the division responsible for the same area as I was. They were also responsible for the next province. So, he had one of the regiments right out by my CP's really. So, General Truong and I got to be fairly close.

I would go down to his headquarters in Hue. He would tell me about the Battle in Hue where the enemy had tried to find him, his wife, and two young childrenhe had a young girl and a young boy. He just barely got them away. They just got out of there about a block before the North Vietnamese surrounded the house.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, at this time, were you very closely coordinating your combat operations with the Vietnamese operations or were you operating fairly independent?



William K. Jones:

No, we worked very closely. We would keep them fully informed and they would keep us fully informed. We also had joint operations.

Donald R. Lennon:

How effective were they as fighting men?

William K. Jones:

They were very fine. They were tough and well disciplined. These were the Regular Army units. But, this one was really good. Their army units vary just like our army units vary. If I wanted to have an operation and have one of his regiments support it in one way or another, all I had to do was to brief General Truong, and he would say, "Okay." Sometimes, he would want to do an operation and I would support him.

We did have separate areas of responsibility, and we wouldn't try to get all mingled up. He had an operating zone that was assigned to him by his boss who was the commanding general of "I" Corps, a Three Star ARVN general. He worked closely with the commanding general of the III MAF who was a Three Star Marine General for the whole corps.

They later developed a 24th Corps with headquarters up in Hue. It was responsible for the northern two provinces and subordinate to III MAF. It was commanded by an Army Three Star General, but subordinate to III MAF. The commanding general of the 24th Corps would then work very closely with General Truong who had the responsibility for those two provinces.

The 24th Corps had two divisions under its operational patrol. They were the 3rd Marine Division which was my division, and the 101st Airborne.

Donald R. Lennon:

This war functioned logistically completely different from what you experienced in W. W. II and Korea, did it not?

William K. Jones:

Yes. It did.

You see most of the supplies would be brought in through the port of Da Nang for the area that I talked about. Then they would be shipped by truck or helicopter to the various supply depots or ammo dumps. Then, you would have a forward logistics' base.

For instance, I had my division dumps in the vicinity of Quang Tri City where part of my command post was located. This part was the administrative part of my CP, and my operational command post was located about 10 miles closer to the DMZ at a place called Dong Ha, a little village. There I also had a supply base. I had a supply base out close to the Laotian border very close to the old Khe Sanh camp in the valley there. That was connected by a road to Dong Ha which the Sea Bees eventually paved. This made the mining much more difficult. Even so, we would lose a truck every once in a while. Before they paved it and before we would be able to use it, we had to put out our marines with the mine sweepers. We would then get some of the supplies out by truck, but most had to be carried by helicopter.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, could you protect your supply dumps very well in this type of warfare?



William K. Jones:

Well, yes, because they were rather small. You couldn't allow your forward ones to get too big, because you had to keep troops around them to protect them. That way, you could supply your troops that were maneuvering out in the field. All of this supply was by helicopter.

Donald R. Lennon:

In the field of actual combat, your troops were operating in smaller units than was used in W. W. II, were they not?

William K. Jones:

Well, yes.

They still would operate in company size patrol. You had your reconnaissance units that would be sent out in four man and six man patrols, usually you had company patrols. Many times, you would have battalion patrols which were more than a regular patrol. If you had an operation, and a regiment was involved in sweeping this certain section, he would maneuver his battalion just like in W. W. II. Then, the battalion commander would also maneuver his companies. Because of the terrain, the commanders directed their maneuvers from helicopters. They had code names. You would fly in to various landing zones that would be hacked out of the forest.

Donald R. Lennon:

The defoliation program, did that help any or just help to cause bad publicity back home?

William K. Jones:

That helped quite a bit. It did just what it said. It was much more difficult for the enemy. You know they could build a complete encampment with hospitals and repair shops and supply dumps and rest areas under that jungle canopy. You would never spot them. Once you stripped that jungle canopy, your reconnaissance aircraft spotted them; and you could drive them out of there. So that is why they did that. Some places, they had to use these big roman plows. They are these huge machines they use to clear forest areas here. They brought those over to clear away from our camp so that you could get a field of fire. They did that so that they couldn't just sneak right up to your perimeter.

Donald R. Lennon:

I reckon the question that I was trying to get to, but was having difficulty wording it . . . the enemy was operating more so in guerrilla fashion than they were in previous wars. They were operating in smaller units.

William K. Jones:

Right. In other words, we would get word that elements of a certain regiment had crossed the DMZ and were up by our forward supply place which we named Vandegrift. We named all of these things after past commandants. Well, naturally what I would try to do then was to contain this. It was the Ninth Regiment of the North Vietnamese Army. We tried to contain this before they got spread out and started harassing the whole countryside.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they normally fight as a regiment?

William K. Jones:

Yes. They fought as a regiment, but you can't envision this as being on the plains of Europe if you follow me. They had their regimental command post which we would overrun, and they had their battalion command post. They had their scheme of maneuvers. They would maneuver their battalions and their companies around just like any outfit does. They would also have their artillery supporting fire. They didn't have any air. That was the big difference between the Vietnamese and the Japanese in the Second



War who did have air support. They would try to upset what we were doing and try to intimidate the local people. They would try to send infiltrators back across the DMZ.

A river ran right up the middle of the DMZ named the Cua Viet River. It really ran on our side of the center of the DMZ up to Dong Ha. The Navy would patrol the river to keep it free of mines. Then, some supplies would be glidered in from the ships standing offshore. They were then brought up the Cua Viet and unloaded at Dong Ha. So, we got supplies that way.

Across from that mouth of the river right on the China Sea, we had a camp in which we had tents and galley and so forth. We would send a company at a time there out of the lines and let them drink beer or soda pop and give them as many steaks as they could hold. We would let them sun bathe and swim and we showed movies for them every night. We got in local USO entertainment for them. This week would just do wonders for these young boys. In that jungle, you would develop what was referred to as "jungle rot." This is this big running sore and such. The salt water and the sunshine in no time flat would clear that problem right up. Of course, they would be able to take a shower down there every day.

Other times, when I would fly around and visit, I would find out that these styrofoam containers that the bombs come in made excellent containers something like you might buy down at People's Drug Store for ice. I would fill up a couple of those sometimes with ice and beer and soda pop and things like that. Sometimes, I would fill them up with ice cream. Sometimes, I would have my galley fix up a hot meal of turkey and potatoes and all the trimmings. When I would go in to visit them, why I would drop that off. Of course, they were always happy to see the 'old man.' They existed out in the jungle on one meal a day. We tried to get one hot meal a day to them.

Donald R. Lennon:

How great was the morale problem?

William K. Jones:

I didn't run into too much of a morale problem until towards the last years. It seemed to me that I could see the effect of all these newspaper and magazine articles about how we were all wrong and the enemy was right and how we were committing all the atrocities. They couldn't see all the atrocities that we saw day after day where they would blow up whole bus loads of school children. They would go in and just wipe out a village and so forth. That didn't affect the older men, but it did affect the younger ones. We started running into more and more disciplinary problems. We were getting people who were trying to avoid going up to the front and trying to go back in the rear areas and stay back there. We refer to this as malingering in claiming imagined illness and things like that. I think it got much worse after I left. We didn't run into it all that much. We had some in the Marine Units.

Donald R. Lennon:

Probably worse in the Army units.

William K. Jones:

In some army units they had some. In a unit like the 101st Airborne where you have your highest breed, they didn't have as many as they did in some other units. They did have a lot in the AMERICAL Division, the one that was involved in the terrible massacre thing. Some of the others had problems too. Their really hot shot outfits didn't have too much trouble.



That's what always distressed me. I have seen the U.S. Army in three wars. I saw them in the Second War, Korea and Vietnam, and I never saw a finer more professional Army than they had over there in Vietnam. From the generals down to the company commanders, the captains, the lieutenant colonels, and the colonels, they were just splendid.

Donald R. Lennon:

Could that have been due to the fact that we had not had that much of a break between the wars, and most of your high ranking officers and commanders had had experience in W. W. II or Korea?

William K. Jones:

Well, it could have been that, but it was just pure professionalism and very very high morale. Their esprit was just as good as any in the Marine Corps as far as I could see. All Marines agreed to this. We were proud of them. They were Americans just like we were. Then, the way the war was fought with the restrictions and the constant harping of the liberal press, and the news reporters would come up . . . . We would give them interviews; and when the interview would come back a few weeks later either in a newspaper or in a national magazine, it would be completely slanted from what you told them.

You would grab the guy and say, "Hey, Charlie, this isn't what I've told you."

He'd say, "That isn't what I reported to the Saigon office either."

They would just take the context and twist it around with a few expressions, and it could take the context and change it all. Sometimes, I suppose that this was done back here in the states. When it came out, it wasn't anything like the real thing. We would read this and see that it wasn't accurate, and we resented this because we didn't think it was telling a fair picture about what was going on over there. So, that sort of thing kept going on.

The politicians tried this limited response stuff then insisted on trying to make this work. We had hoped they had learned a lesson with Korea. That's what happened to us in Korea, too. This was the first time in history. Before that, if the diplomacy failed and we had to go to war, then it was left up to the military to win the war. Then, the diplomacy and politicians would decide what the peace was going to look like. In Korea, they tried to get into the act more. That was a no-win proposition, too. This war, they got into from the very first. The military would be blamed for everything that went wrong. They would never come out and say that there was a restriction on funds or limitations on what we could do and all this. So, we lost this war.

Donald R. Lennon:

Perhaps there is too much media?

William K. Jones:

I don't think that it is a question of too much media, because we had a lot of media during the Korean and the Second War right there with us on the battlefield. I can't remember a Second World War battle without a lot of media. That's where I became very good friends with Bob Sherrod who is a big Time and Life representative. The media in those wars and the editors reported accurately what was going on. Many of us think that the media was biased in the Vietnam War and had a tremendous effect and shares a great part of the responsibility for the decline of morale. They also share a great part of the responsibility for the casualties that we suffered. If we could have gone in there and fought the war like any military man in the world would have fought it, we could have had that over within two years. The



casualties on both sides would have been a third of what they turned out to be. There isn't any doubt in any professional military command's mind about that. The media will not agree to this, of course, and they won't accept any responsibility. They fall back on the old statement that it is their duty to keep the American people informed. We all agree to this, but the way the thing turned out, the liberal press got more and more against the war. The eastern liberal intellectual community decided that they were very much against the war.

Donald R. Lennon:

You've had some very good things to say about General Westmoreland. Were you generally in agreement in the way he handled his command?

William K. Jones:

Yes. I most certainly was. I think he did a find job.

He was relieved by General Abrams whom I also admire very highly. He was a different personality from General Westmoreland, but every bit as fine a soldier. I think he conducted it extremely well.

All the senior Army commanders that I ran into over there did a splendid job. General Weyand was a splendid man as well as a fine soldier. I think they just did an extremely fine job.

It's just a shame that the army has reached what it has today. It's just not in good shape for any professional military man. This is what happens, of course, and we want to be a citizen's Army and Marine Corps and belong to the civilians until you are put at the mercy of a minority in the sense of activists.

The anti-war activists got into the act. They were supported a great deal by a large part of the media, but not all of them. They would publicize them and then not give the other side any part of the picture. Television was not fair to us. They would shoot shots just to achieve certain effects. That's just like quoting out of context.

Donald R. Lennon:

Part of what you're referring to--, is this such things as late in the war, they kept accusing the military of distorting the figures as far as Viet Cong strength and the American successes and this sort of thing?

William K. Jones:

Yes. That type of thing. There were some honest mistakes on both sides. I don't want to say there wasn't. I think the military probably did make some mistakes in their estimates of the enemy's strength or intentions.

Donald R. Lennon:

These were honest mistakes rather than just distortions?

William K. Jones:

Oh, I am convinced. No one could convince me that any military man purposely twisted or outright lied. We're just not raised that way. The press just implied that we did. They do this to anyone that doesn't answer the way they wanted them to.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about the Gulf of Tonkin business?

William K. Jones:

I don't know anything about that except my personal views that that was a normal reaction in those days. After all, we had a national policy--such as it was--was of containment.



Donald R. Lennon:

This caused such a stir in the press. I just wondered if it had any repercussions.

William K. Jones:

The politicians share a large blame. I have some friends in Congress who don't like to admit this. God, what affect it had on the enemy and us when nationally recognized men like Mansfield, Church, McGovern, and McCarthy would come out with these statements that the war was wrong and that this was just an internal civil war. This was not an invasion. Just because the North Vietnamese crossed the DMZ and invaded South Vietnam, that really couldn't be considered an invasion. We didn't understand that logic. We would capture prisoners and find on them in their language these reports from their government of what Senator Mansfield said in the United States Senate. So, hang in there boys because the war can't last very much longer for the Americans. So, this sort of thing built their morale. They would tell us.

Donald R. Lennon:

They were using this type of thing fully as propaganda for their troops.

William K. Jones:

Oh, why not!! What could be more perfect?!

The more cocky ones who were not wounded or anything would say to us, "Look right there. Your own senators say this. You had a big riot in Washington with thousands of marchers against the war. Of course we are going to win. Of course we are going to win!!!"

That kept their morale up. At one time, their morale was just down to here. We were winning the war just like Westmoreland was claiming. In the military sense, we were winning it. We don't ask to be considered judges on how we were doing on the political or international front. Militarily, we were doing the job. Boy, this Congress . . . more and more of those guys saw that it was popular with the activists and the liberal press to resist the war and they would be sure to get coverage. With the Eastern Establishment, these politicians just jumped right on the band wagon. They surely couldn't have realized the great succor they were giving to the enemy that was shooting at their own fellow Americans. A couple of times a few years after the war some of them started to bring that out. Boy, it was clamped down and papers didn't give it the high-lights because they don't want to hear that. If you tried to bring it out now, they would just say, "You're just trying to be divisive. You're just mad because Carter granted the amnesty." All this kind of stuff. It will come out in history someday. Twenty-five or thirty years from now, some writer will pick this up as his theme, and it will be very interesting because it is there. It's as obvious as it can be.

Donald R. Lennon:

The Marine forces that were there were in somewhat of a different type of war, so they say. How had the training that the Marine Corps had been in for the past few years preceding that, how effective was it for this jungle warfare?

William K. Jones:

When we first went in, we had to improvise. We had never fought this type of war. The closest we had come to it had been back in the Twenties and early Thirties in what we referred to as the 'Banana Wars' that we fought down in Central and South America, mostly Central America. We had books on it. We had the equipment. For instance, we still had pack howitzers. This is the type that can be broken down and put on an animal and be packed, or it can be carried then by two or three or four men.



They first improvised this thing called the 'County Fair' of which I'm sure you're familiar. That was a Marine Corps improvisation. They had the Civil Action teams where they would put these Marines out in the villages. They would pick these young corporals and lieutenants and they would just be accepted by the villagers. They would help them with their wells and this and that and the other thing. They would train their little popular forces. These were the local forces. That was a Marine improvisation, too. It was later taken over by all MACV and went with various variations to fit whatever job was required.

General Davis's Fire Support Base concept which was mentioned earlier up in the Quang Tri Province was an improvisation. It was also used by the Army. The Army used that concept before we did. General Davis' group were the first Marines to start using it. They refined it. The Army wasn't any better trained than we were for it.

I remember when General Weyand brought the Army 25th Division from Hawaii into the Third Corps area into what was referred to as the "Iron Triangle." It was located up around the old Michelin rubber plantation up northwest of Saigon. One of the first things that he did was have me brief him. I was on General Westmoreland's staff then. He wanted to know how the Marines operated, and then he went up and started spending a couple of days with the Marines. He came back and started doing the County Fair thing and some of the other things.

Whenever the Army or Marines would have some innovation that looked good, then we would tell each other about it. As these lessons continued, we built mock villages to show how to search out a village and where the Viet Cong would hide. They would have false hearths for instance where they would hide under. They would have false floors with places underneath them. They would have false walls. You had to know how to search a village.

The idea of the County Fair was to move all of the villagers out into an area with tents in which you had food and entertainment and medical attention for them. Then, you would sweep through the village and inspect minutely. While the villagers were out there, they were screened by the Vietnamese police to try to pick out who were the strangers in the thing. They would try to find out who were the ones intimidating this group by threatening to kill the village chief or his wife or family.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was the attitude of the average Vietnamese toward the war?

William K. Jones:

Mostly, he was scared to death. All the villager wanted was to be left alone in his village. He was intimidated by the Viet Cong who made him feed them and take care of their wounded. Then, they would take away the young men, and sometimes the young women and kidnap them. So, the villagers hated the war. A great many of their young men went voluntarily as a great many young men do listening to the adventure promised or the propaganda from the V.C. Others would go to the South Vietnamese. They had a draft. So, the attitude of the average villager is like you can imagine. They wished they didn't have a war.

I think that was much too broad a brush that the media used to paint the sky. They would quote all these people like Jane Fonda. When people like Fonda and Ramsey Clark would go to Hanoi, you can



imagine what effect that had for the propaganda for the enemy to use and the morale of our own people.

Certainly there was corruption in the South Vietnamese government. It's just like there has been corruption on Capitol Hill. This is the oriental type. These are oriental people. They're not going to change just because you say it's a no-no.

I remember the commandant of the Vietnamese Marine Corps, General Khang, had protested that he did not want to be in command. Marshall Khi put him in command of the Third Corps area. It had always been under the, Army. Khang told me personally that in the first month he was offered bribes totaling up to three million dollars. He locked up all the people who tried to bribe him. He never took a cent and I believe him. General Khang went to Marine Corps school, and we would talk to them about honor and integrity. This little thin wiry man believed in it. He was a staunch man and a very fine man. They had their very fine people.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about operation "Golden Fleece?' That is usually spoken of as very closely related to 'County Fair'.

William K. Jones:

I was not on that operation. I was not in the country at that time. It was a very successful Marine Corps operation. It involved a large number of Marines and ARVN troops. It employed these county fairs and sweeping of areas trying to eliminate local enemy regular forces. They did this. It was a very successful operation as I recall it.

There were five provinces in the "I" Corps. The three provinces which were south of Da Nang . . . Da Nang was just south of a mountain range which had a very narrow pass and a tunnel that a little train went through. It was the only way to go from one province to another at that point. South of that and north of it, too . . . it was a coastal plain from the beach several miles inland. Sometimes it was maybe 10 miles inland before you started hitting the hills and the forest. Particularly in the three southern provinces the terrain was very flat and difficult to maneuver through because of the rice patties.

Donald R. Lennon:

When we talked previously, you said that you would comment on General Shoup when we got to Vietnam.

William K. Jones:

Well, General Shoup was very much against us getting involved in Vietnam when he was commandant and when he was then on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn't believe we should do it. I believe there were considerable reservations on the part of other members of the Chiefs. They felt that if you were going in, don't fiddle around with this thing.

Donald R. Lennon:

That was the basis of his concern?

William K. Jones:

General Shoup's main basis of concern was that you don't want to get involved in a war on the mainland of China. You do not want to get in there. It was a no win proposition. He felt we just should not get involved. At first, we tried to bail the French out. When they got run out, we tried to set a peace. This was done, and the country was divided. Then, the North violated that, and we tried to support the government that had been put in there. When General Shoup retired, he wrote a book about it. He used



some very harsh language that alienated a lot of his former friends and a lot of the people. I've always been fond of the old man and am still due to the World War II reunion we have on the 19th of November for the survivors of Tarawa that are still alive. He shows up for this and I see him then. That's about all I can tell you. The fact is that he was probably right, but the fact remains that our country says you are going in. That's how I base my comments because I follow orders.

Donald R. Lennon:

You have commented on General Walt, and General Chapman . . . what about General McCutcheon?

William K. Jones:

He was a splendid officer in every respect. I think that had he lived, he might have been our first Marine aviator to be commandant. He was a man of about a year senior to me. He was an accomplished aviator. He was a very small wiry man. He was very sharp. He was in command of the Marine Air Wing under General Walt. General Walt had this wing that was reinforced and two divisions, the First and Third Division.

General Walt decided one time that we had to abandon one of these Special Force camps and evacuate these Special Forces troops and everyone. We had to pull out the villagers and everyone. The reason for this was that it was an untenable spot that they had selected years before in the valley surrounded by hills. The enemy had just moved in. They had already cut off all the supplies. It was difficult to resupply by air. The troops were not patrolling out from there. I happened to be up there from Westmoreland's headquarters. He asked my advice and asked all the generals. I voted along with all the rest of them. It was his decision to pull them out. McCutcheon was working on how he was going to get his helicopters in and get them out. He got them out, too. There were very few losses. Then he went back out as commander of Three MAF.

He was back on duty in the states the same time I was in the personnel department. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Rear Air. We were very good friends. He went out first as a Three Star as CG Three MAF. I went out as CG FPAC and got my third star. So, he was then under me although he was senior to me. This was only for a very short time. I knew he was senior to me. We got along fine.

Before he went out, he had had a cancer operation. They thought they had gotten all of it and he thought they had too. He got out and ran a mile every day, and all this kind of stuff. When he was out there, it started flaring up again. He was brought back. He was still doing alright. The Commandant designated him to be the Assistant Commandant to relieve General Walt who retired. They pinned the fourth star on him when he was in the hospital dying. Had he lived, he would have been a very strong candidate for Commandant of MC. General Chapman told him that he had sent in four names as candidates. He had sent in my name, General Davis and General Chasson. I'm sure General McCutcheon would have been one of them.

Donald R. Lennon:

You had mentioned earlier in another interview, you mentioned a rice wine story that you were going to tell me later.

William K. Jones:

The rice wine story was concerned with the time when I first went into Vietnam. I was stationed at the headquarters, Marine Corps. I was the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant. This was before 1964. The day after he made commandant, he went out to visit the Marines in Vietnam. At that time, we



simply had our helicopter squadrons in there. We hadn't landed our troops up in Da Nang as yet. We did have various Marine advisors and there were getting to be more and more of us in there.

During this visit to Vietnam, we went up to the "I" Corps area. The "I" Corps commander arranged for us to go out and visit the Montagnard village. As we went through the main gate of the village, they had a little six or seven man honor guard. They were all just dressed in loin cloth and barefooted. They were playing an assortment of instruments such as reeds and banging on pans. We went into the compound. They had all the women from the little bitty girls to the grandmothers lined over on one side and all the men on the other. We walked up between these two ranks. The chief was up there. He greeted the commandant and greeted the commandant's party. There were about five officers with him. The commandant presented him with his gifts that consisted of a great big bag of salt and farming utensils (i.e. axes). The chief wanted to honor us. We were toldby this Vietnamese interpreter that he wanted each of us to stand in back of these five big tall thin jars. There was a hollow reed-like straw sticking out. These little Montagnard maidens got behind each one and held the straw towards us. The commandant looked at the interpreter who said they wanted us to drink. Well, we looked in here and what it was was rice wine. You could see it with pieces of rice floating on top, and these bubbles coming up every now and then. It just looked horrible. You had a pretty good idea of what would happen to you if you drank this stuff. It just looked unsanitary. These people were very primitive and very dirty.

The Commandant gave us the command. He said, "Drink, I said."

So, we all did. It didn't taste too bad. If you would put some ice in it, it would have probably been good. Just as we did that, the little girls slapped a copper bracelet around our wrists. This was part of the ceremony. They all wear these. If they give you one, this makes you an honorary member of their tribe. Down the line, one of the members was a Major General named Bob Cushman who was later one of the commandants. I heard him say, "My God, we've married them."

When I heard this, I cracked up. That was the story about the rice wine.

The other story was related to the time when I was living in the villa that we called Marine House in Saigon. I was a good friend of General Khang, and I used to go call on him. He is a commandant now. This is before he made the other deal. I had this Marine steward that went out with me who was a wonderful cook. He was and is a friend of mine to this day. He even comes up here and cooks meals for me sometimes. He does it for a price now. He's a fine man. We had all this linen and we had nice service and a nice dining room and what have you. So, I asked General Khang if I could honor he and his wife at dinner. Knowing that he was then a very close friend to then President Ky (Nguyen Cao Ky), General and Mrs. Ky . . . . He said, "Sure, that would be great." He said he would check with General Ky. They said they would be delighted to come. So, the time was set.

Early that afternoon I took off to help prepare for their arrival. They were coming around 7:00 p.m. I got home about six. The first thing that happened was the Vietnamese MP's had already arrived. They were stationed all over the roof of the house and had patrols and road blocks at each end of the block. I was only about a block down from the Ambassador's residence who was Ambassador Lodge at that time.



Naturally they couldn't let their president go out unprotected, because he was a good target. General and Mrs. Ky, and General and Mrs. Khang came. We had a nice evening. They all liked Scotch and water.

President Ky had a few and he was taking off on the French. He was very mad at the French. He had a good reason to be mad. You see, the French left overseers at these big rubber plantations. When you flew over them, they looked like something out of "Gone With The Wind." They all had their mansion house; they had their overseer's house; they all had tennis courts, stables, and big circular drives up to these places. They had swimming pools. They had their medical dispensaries fully stocked for their workers. They were still running these plantations. The way they were able to do that was that they were paying a tribute to the enemy. The French would deposit in the French banks money to the enemy to allow them to keep their plantations and run them. Then, the enemy would take that money and buy war supplies to be able to fight South Vietnam.

President Ky said, "I want to throw all the Frenchmen out.” He speaks perfect English, and so did General Khang. He says, “I'm going to throw all the Frenchmen out of here. I am just not going to put up with any of this anymore. They are just stabbing us in the back and letting the Viet Cong use their dispensaries to treat their wounded."

I was just trying to make dinner conversation and said, "Well, President Ky, if I may, let me tell you about a very sad national mistake we made."

I told them about what we did with the Japanese-Americans. I said, “There must be some third or fourth generation Frenchmen here. To them, Vietnam is their home. I would wager that they're not taking part in any of this duplicity.”

President Ky sort of startled at first to hear a Brigadier tell the president of a country the way to run his country. He did say, "Well, you have a pretty good point there general. I'll certainly give that some consideration."

I just bring that up to show that it was a very pleasant evening.

A couple of evenings later when General Westmoreland got in from the field, he sent for me. He said, "Bill, the Ambassador is really mad at you."

I said, "Why is that?"

He said, "Not even I invite the president without requesting permission from the Ambassador."

I said, "I didn't know that. I knew General Khang and we were just friends."

He said, "Well, it is alright to have General and Mrs. Khang, but not the head of the government."

I said, "I just didn't think it would hurt. I thought that if he wanted to come, what could it hurt."

He said, "The Ambassador really insists that I discipline you; so, consider yourself disciplined. Now report what you saw today."



That was all "Westy" ever said of it. Evidently Lodge had his nose really out of joint. I wasn't impressed with Lodge very frankly.

That was all "Westy" ever said of it. Evidently Lodge had his nose really out of joint. I wasn't impressed with Lodge very frankly. I had a dinner when General Walt came back with his 3rd stara lunch, not a dinnerwhen he was coming through Saigon. I wanted to have a luncheon in honor of General Walt and I had my senior colonels and General Walt and General Westmoreland and some other army generals. I invited the Ambassador and he accepted. Then I made another faux pax and Westy told me later about that. Walt was my guest of honor so I put him on my right and I put the Ambassador on my left because he was the senior guy that. The Ambassador always sits on the right and I didn't know that, but Lodge didn't make an issue about that.

Concerning the President Ky story, I think the Ambassador did say that he wanted to talk to me, but Westmoreland said, “Well, I'll discipline him. Why don't you let me handle it? You've got a lot to do.”

[End of Interview]

{Notes added after the interview was over}

He [Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.] seldom ventured far from Saigon. Never really saw the war or visited the troops except when then President Johnson or Vice President Humphrey visited Vietnam. Even then he didn't tag along if they went too far from Saigon.

Both President Johnson and Vice President Humphrey visited Vietnam while I was "Westy's" operation officer. I was in charge of MACV's contribution to the visits working with embassy officials and submitting my plans for approval up the chain--first to Major General Bill Rosson who was Chief of Staff and eventually General Westmoreland.

President Johnson's visit was very short and a one stop only proposition at Cam Ram Bay. This Air Force/Navy installation was chosen since it was easiest to provide the required security. He was accompanied by then Secretary of State Dean Rusk whom I enjoyed long conversations with--a very warm and personal gentleman! We brought representative groups of troops from all the services and the President addressed them.

Vice President Humphrey stayed several days and operated out of Ambassador Lodge's residence. I worked closely with the Secret Service in providing helicopter service, ground transportation, communications and security. Mr. Humphrey was a bundle of energy who traveled wherever the Secret Service would approve, loved to talk to the troops, and was warmly and enthusiastically received. The day he was to depart he sent for me. I was escorted by a Secret Service agent through the entrance foyer of the Ambassador's residence up a staircase to the Vice President's quarters.



Looking down into a sunny breakfast alcove I could see Ambassador Lodge and Ambassador Averell Harriman looking up at this Marine Brigadier General going to see the Vice President with startled expressions on their faces. I just smiled at them and nodded. I'm sure Lodge recognized me.

Mr. Humphrey thanked me profusely and gave me a pen with his autograph on it. He was a truly gracious gentleman.

[End of added notes]

[End of Part 4]



{Chapter 5}

As I mentioned in the preceding chapter (the last of the four interview chapters), I relieved then Major General Ray Davis of command of the 3rd Marine Division in April 1969 at the command post located just west of Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province, RVN.

Quang Tri Province includes the Ben Hai River running to the South China Sea from the mountains to the west. It was the northern most province of the Republic of Vietnam and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) formed its northern border. Like many other provinces in Vietnam it had on the coastal lands an interlacing of sand and rich rice-growing delta land. Next, to the west, was the piedmont. The piedmont was valuable only in terms of the rock which was quarried out by hand, the grazing of cattle to a limited degree, and the collection of wood for cooking and the production of charcoal, then the towering mountains with their swift streams filled with trout, waterfalls, dense jungles, tigers, monkeys, and colorful birds.

The 3rd Marine Division Forward Headquarters/Command Post was near Dong Ha. To the south about twenty miles on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Quang Tri City, was the Rear Command Post commanded by a Brigadier General Assistant Division Commander (ADC) where the main supply dumps were located.

At the beginning of the mountains in a valley due west of Dong Ha was a forward supply dump and resupply point for both helicopter and truck transportation. This supported the majority of the fire supply bases. It was named Vandegrift and was also a fire support base (some of the fire support bases were named after commandants). During my command we manned, in addition to Vandegrift, FSB Russel l and Cates. Others were named after the nearest village like Khe Sanh. After the action moved out of the range of a FSB, they were dismantled and new ones opened. Some of these were named after former 3rd Division Commanding Generals like Erskine and Turnage.

When I took command in April 1969 there were two combat operations in progress--code names "Purple Martin” and "Marine Craig." In May we added four more--"Herkimer Mountain," "Virginia Ridge," "Apache Snow," and "Cameron Falls." Helicopter combat air support totaled approximately 24,000 carrying 34,000 passengers and 9,000 tons of ammunition and supplies. Fixed-wing close air support was approximately 2400 sorties plus B-52 sorties dropping between 450 and 750 tons of bombs per month.

In June 1969 I received orders to prepare for movement of my division out of RVN to its home camps on Okinawa. This entailed planning for and executing phased withdrawal from the mountains and the area just south of the DMZ where we had been holding the enemy in check while the rest of the province repaired war damage. What made this extremely delicate and difficult was that we were in contact daily with the enemy. FSB's had to be dismantled and the bunker material removed so the enemy couldn't use it, supplies had to be moved to the coast for embarkation, vehicles waterproofed and cleaned for embarking, and areas completely cleaned.



Some of the bases were to be taken over by Vietnamese Army units and they were left clean but intact. The sequence of destruction dates is shown on the following chart:

Destruction Dates of Combat and Fire Support Bases:

21 September - Fire Support Base Russel l was officially closed.

4 October - Fire Support Base Cates was officially closed.

15 October - Destruction of Vandegrift Combat Base completed.

27 October - Destruction of Elliot Combat Base completed.

The sequence of withdrawing of units and their embarkation dates are shown on the following chart:

Embarkation Dates from RVN:

1st Bn, 4th Marines - embarked on 22 October 1969.

2d Bn, 4th Marines - embarked on 7 November 1969.

3d Bn, 4th Marines - embarked on 20 November 1969.

1st Bn, 3d Marines - embarked on 6 October 1969.

2d Bn, 3d Marines- embarked on 2 October 1969.

3d Bn, 3d Marines- embarked on 2 October 1969.

1st Bn, 9th Marines - embarked on 15 July 1969.

2d Bn, 9th Marines - embarked on 1 August 1969.

3d Bn, 9th Marines - embarked on 13 August 1969.

As can be seen, we started withdrawing elements of the 9th Marines in late June and completed the embarkation of that unit which then moved to Okinawa in mid-August. While waiting for the ships to return empty, the 3rd Marines had heavy fighting just south of the DMZ driving an entire NVN regiment back into the DMZ while inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.

The combat air supporting the division was magnificent and aided greatly in making the withdrawal and embarkation possible with minimal friendly casualties. The quantity of such support is shown on the following chart:

Combat Air Support



During the time period 1 April 1969 to 30 September 1969, combat air completed the following missions:

9495 fixed-wing sorties were flown resulting in 23,742 tons of ordnance expended.

279 ARC Light sorties were flown resulting in 6,975 tons of ordnance expended.

In addition to the above, all of our many projects to help the civilian population in the areas under our protection had to be completed. These "Civic Action Projects," during 1969 in Quang Tri Province, included economic development, education, social welfare, transportation and refugee assistance. Some 57 percent of the labor was provided by the citizens of Quang Tri Province. The rest by Marines and Army units attached to the 3rd Division.

Institutional support, for example, included the following:

Schools 399

Orphanages 69

Hospitals/Dispensaries 160

The 3rd Marine Division Memorial Children's Hospital was almost completed replacing the Dong Ha Combat Base Temporary Children's Hospital Facility. Therefore, the monthly children patient load at the temporary facility dropped from 2,710 in April to 1,295 in September.

Immediately prior to the 3rd Division's redeployment in early November 1969 to Okinawa, the major civic action projects completed were the following:

1. Cam Vu Public Works Project {water supply)

2. Boys Public Elementary School, Quang Tri City

3. Bo De High School, Quang Tri City

4. Than Thank High School, Quang Tri City

5. Trung Son Refugee School, Cam Lo (These were the refugees who fled south from and north of the DMZ.)

In retrospect, it's amazing that approximately thirty thousand Americans could protect the local Vietnamese and help them rebuild while fighting our common communist enemies.

It is also interesting, in retrospect, that the American fighting man accepts as his role in life the necessities that combat duty demands. This includes working (or being on call while sleeping, eating,



attending to personal matters) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and every week in the month. Vietnam was the first to break this with the two weeks' R&R deal--a good idea! In World War II we went out and stayed out until it was over--thirty-six months for most of us in the Pacific. Anyway, it's little fun, many inconveniences, adequate but dull chow, and gnawing loneliness and worry for those nearest and dearest at home. The main reward is the camaraderie developed with the other Americans in the same spot you are--many asking "what in the hell am I doing here instead of with all those people in the states that couldn't care less about us." But most experience the intangible, never mention, inner feelings like--sense of patriotism in doing what one's country asks, sense of pride in being man enough to accept the risk, discomfort, loneliness and frustrations required, and a sense of being a member of such a group who feel the same way.

A wise man once observed--"For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected can never know.That about sums it up for me and my career. Three wars, two personalized threats to my life (one at MCB, 29 Palms, Ca. and one in my Command Post in Quang Tri Province RVN) and innumerable "impersonal threats" in the form of enemy resistance to our assault landings, combat operations, etc.Other fond memories include the company rest camps we operated on the beach at the mouth of the Cua Viet River. After two or more months in the jungle during which many of the Marines would develop skin cancer (called "Jungle Rot") from the continual dampness, we would send the company to the beach for a week or so. During this period they would have steaks and the finest food we could serve for three hot meals a day. In addition, all the free beer or soft drinks they wanted, a free movie every night and USO shows when available, with no duties except to clean their immediate living areas. The rest of the time they could sleep, swim, sun bath or play team games. Within three days the spark in their eyes, smile, and healing effect of sun and salt water on "Jungle Rot" rejuvenated them. At the end of the time they were ready and happy to go back to their particular assigned area of hell counting the days when their tour would be completed.

The redeployment of the 3rd Marine Division (Rein) from South Vietnam to Okinawa started in June and ended in December 1969 with the arrival of the rear echelon on Okinawa. A report on "Lessons Learned" was submitted to higher echelons in the Marine Corps and several copies were given to my close friend of many years, Major General Ormond R. Simpson, who was Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division (Rein) who would be redeploying his command to Camp Pendleton, California, sometime in the future. The report covers the multitudinous details involved in moving over thirty thousand men with their equipment and supplies over the ocean many hundreds of miles, particularly while fighting a rear guard action, closing of fire support bases, turning over to relieving units critical existing minefield records, trash removal and disposal, preparing vehicles for embarkation, ordnance disposal, packing and crating of equipment and supplies, completion of civil affairs projects, preparation of plans and executing loading of ships are but a few examples. In addition, suitable local farewell ceremonies and calls had to be carefully planned to lessen as much as possible the impact of the withdrawal from the area of this large a unit on the economy and psychological shock of the local populace.

The 3rd Marine Division's final departure ceremony was held at the Da Nang Air Base on 7 November 1969. Planning and rehearsals required six weeks. I learned to give my departure speech to our Vietnamese military allies and friends in Vietnamese by learning to pronounce the words phonetically. It



delighted the Vietnamese who were just as surprised as the Americans attending the ceremony. It was a memorable occasion and a fitting farewell in all respects.

The arrival ceremony on Okinawa was very small. A rifle company from the 9th Marines who were the first to arrive there in June formed the honor guard. The Division Band and Division Color Guard preceded my plane and played appropriate music for thirty minutes.

At the appointed hour, I arrived with my command group and was greeted by the various island dignitaries. Suitable honors were rendered, the Division Colors were marched off and posted, the National Anthem played and I trooped the line. The playing of the Marine Corps Hymn completed the ceremony.

After holding a press conference I moved into my new headquarters and started reviewing plans for the Division's celebration of the Marine Corps birthday on 10 November, three days hence.

The following weeks and months were devoted to shaking down in our new quarters and developing suitable training and recreation plans for the troops. Equipment and supplies had to be unpacked, inventoried and stored, training areas reconnoitered, schedules drawn up, billeting areas improved, replacements assigned, etc. Before I knew it March of 1970 was upon me and I had to start plans for turning over my command to my relief. In this regard, when I landed on Okinawa, in addition to remaining Commanding General 3rd Marine Division, I became Commanding General of the First Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander, Task Force 70 of the U.S. 7th Fleet. For my Vietnam duty and the above mentioned duties I received a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal (the first DSM I had received upon completion of my tour on General Westmoreland's staff 1965-66).

After a most enjoyable reunion with my family and a long leave I spent a couple of months at HQMC as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. Nominated for three star rank by President Nixon, I was confirmed by the Senate, May 12, 1970. I was "frocked" (allowed to wear the rank and title of a Lieutenant General) by CMC and started drawing the increased pay and allowances on July 1, 1970.

Oldest son, Bill Jr., who was a second lieutenant at the time, had planned to marry his college sweetheart, Katherine Pirtle, in her home town of Wichita, Kansas, on 20 June. Consequently, we were able to drive through Wichita on our way to the West Coast and Hawaii and attend the big event in our lives.

The wedding and preliminary festivities were memorable. One nephew, James L. Jones, Jr. was driving east from Camp Pendleton for duty on the East Coast. His younger brother, John V. Jones, was driving his family from the East Coast for duty at Camp Pendleton. They both were able to schedule their trips so they could lay over a few days in Wichita for the wedding. Since Jim and John were also Marine lieutenants, the four of us were able to wear our white uniforms for the ceremony; probably more of a Marine Corps wedding than Wichita, Kansas, had ever seen before.

After arriving in Los Angeles we turned our car over to the Navy port authorities for shipment and flew to Honolulu.

[End of Chapter 5]



{Chapter 6}

By the time I had over thirty years of active service, I had recognized one interesting aspect of a military career that few civilians grasped. Setting aside the fictional portrayals of war times and actual combat and the non-fictional accurate reports in military histories about campaigns and battles won or lost, there's another extremely important facet of military life that is seldom portrayed but is critical in understanding the full picture of warfare, what holds the military profession together and the "whole man" aspect of a Marine. The reason for this, I suspect, is that it's hard to explain because it's intangible and is referred to under various labels such as camaraderie morale, American humor, and esprit de corps, etc. Nevertheless I've seen many occasions when humor has turned defeat into victory, despair into hope, and fear into self-confidence.

As an example to this I recall a Catholic priest during D-Day and the assault waves had hit the beach. As the lines moved forward, the wounded were brought to the beach for evacuation to the transports' sick bays. We were required to carry gas masks during the landing due to some intelligence reports that the Japanese might use chemical warfare against us. These masks were carried in large canvas bags one carried over his shoulder. This priest got two of these bags, took the gas masks out and left them. He then filled one bag with fried chicken from the ship's galley and the other with scotch that he had brought from the USA. As he moved along the beach comforting the frightened teenagers who were lying there wounded, he would pose the question, "Son, while you're waiting for medical attention how would you like a piece of fried chicken and a swig of scotch?" The young Marine, of course, was incredulous and when it was forthcoming his sense of humor relieved the fear and tension building inside him. Afterwards doctors told me that this unusual approach of the priest saved many young Marines by reducing their fears and tensions thereby staving off shock.

Therefore I resolved as I assumed the duties of Commanding General FMF Pacific that I would try my best to do the camaraderie and high spirits I'd experienced in my subordinate units.

The tour as it turned out was most interesting and eventful. As my predecessor Lieutenant General Buse and his Lieutenant General “Brute” Krulak had done, I visited our III MAF in country every six weeks (III MAF consisted of the 1st MAW and 1st Marine Division, plus many supporting units at this time). In addition, but less frequently, I visited our various Marine barracks in the Pacific, as well as Marine advisory groups to various Marine Corps. Fortunately, I had inherited a C-130 equipped with a sleeping capsule, a kitchen, and superior communication assets, so not only was the traveling comfortable but I could schedule the trips at my own convenience. Additionally the accommodations were adequate for me to take along six staff officers. Our flights between stops were therefore gainfully used to process and make decisions on problems that surfaced during our visit. Unfortunately, when the cut-out-prerogatives fever hit Congress and the Executive Branch, this convenient and cost effective plane was denied my successor and he was forced to borrow CINCPACFLT's plane.

A few months after assuming command I was ordered to commence planning for withdrawing III MAF from Vietnam to mainly Okinawa and Japan, although some men in designated units or categories were to be sent back to CONUS.



It soon became apparent to me that in addition to the traditional general and special staff organization, I needed a management division headed by a colonel to coordinate this tremendous effort in the most cost effective manner possible. This we did and it consisted of a Reports Coordination Section of three officers and two S/NCO's; a Management Engineer Section of two officers, an Automated Services Center of eleven officers and seven S/NCO's; an Operation Analyses Section of two officers, one S/NCO and one civilian operation analyst; a Graphic Arts Section of one S/NCO; a Reproduction Section of one officer and two S/NCO's; and an Adjutant Section of sixteen officers and ten enlisted.

This Division ran an Operations Center where all the statistics were graphically displayed that were gathered from a reporting system fashioned after the Reporting System at HQ Marine Corps for handling personnel, money, and resources that we also inaugurated. As a result, we were able to withdraw all of the Marine Corps Forces in Vietnam over a period of months and accomplish the subsequent rehabilitation of their equipment and combat readiness while effecting a savings of over twenty million dollars. Furthermore this automated and integrated information system significantly improved the management of men, money, and material of the 75,000 military and civilian employees in FMF Pacific as well as a two billion dollar inventory and annual operating budget of over 500 million dollars. For this the Force was cited by the President of the United States for effecting significant cost savings and instituting numerous management improvement practices during Fiscal Year 1971.

Another project that I derived great satisfaction from developing was a series of highly successful programs which improved racial harmony, equal opportunity, cross and sub-cultural interaction, interpersonal communications, drug abatement, and job enrichment. Many of these were used as models for similar programs throughout the Marine Corps at that time.

Before I knew it almost two years had passed and I found myself preparing for my retirement. Among other things those plans called for troop formation of two companies each with two platoons. CMC agreed to issue my son and two nephews permissive orders to fly on my plane coming from El Toro MCAS to fly us back to Washington, D.C., and into retirement. Consequently, the first company on the line during my retirement ceremony was commanded by Captain James L. Jones, Jr. (a nephew); the first platoon by Lieutenant W. J. Jones, Jr. (my son); and the second platoon by Lieutenant John V. Jones (another nephew).

As it turned out, when the time came my immediate superior Admiral Chick Clarey awarded me my third Distinguished Service Medal in the name of the president. In doing so, when the time came he surprised us all by inviting my beloved wife, Charlotte (the best Marine in our family!) to accompany him front and center and she pinned the medal on my tunic and gave me a kiss. What a thrill!

Shortly before the retirement ceremony took place an incident occurred which also highlights the fact that perhaps there is a bit of Walter Mitty in all of us. In our mind's eye we often see ourselves entirely differently than we appear to others.

To use only one fantasy as an example it will be necessary to distill it out of the important events and demands of the many years involved since it started near the end of World War II. As a Marine infantry battalion commander I began to wonder if my subordinates referred to me in a complimentary,



uncomplimentary, or, worse yet, in an indifferent manner. For example, "Wild Bill" Jones would be most acceptable, "Bonehead" Jones would not, and "Old what's-his-name" would hurt. My curiosity finally got the best of me.

"Jim," I said to my second in command one day, "do the men have a nickname for me--you know something with a ring to it like 'Bull' Halsey, 'Chesty' Puller or 'Vinegar Joe' Stillwell?"

"As a matter of fact they do," Jim grinned, "It's 'Willie K'."

That took the wind out of my sails! My first name, bastardized at that, and my middle initial.

So that war ended and histories were written with no mention of a "Willie K." Then along came the Korean war, an advancement in rank and command of a regiment.

When my regiment was assigned general outpost duty in front of the main battle positions, my pulse quickened. Here was I with the enemy to my front and the Imjin River to my back. My orders were to give early warning of an enemy attack and to delay him before withdrawing across the river. The bitter cold had thankfully deadened the privy smell of the rice paddies but had also frozen them so enemy tanks could maneuver freely. There would be bitter fighting, no doubt, for our mission was to hold him long enough for the main defenses to be manned.

"Tiger" Jones, I thought. That has a nice ring to it. I'll bet the men already call me something like that.

After the staff meeting that night I said to my second in command, "Jack, do the men have a nickname for me? You know like . . . ."

"Yes, I know," chuckled Jack, "and it's not 'Stonewall' Jones or 'Wild Bill' Jones either. It's 'Willie K'."

I was disappointed but still optimistic. My career wasn't over and anyway sometimes nicknames like medals are bestowed in peacetime.

My first star and a Brigadier General's command! Anyone knows that throughout history generals are given nicknames, "Stonewall" Jackson, "Old-blood-and-guts" Patton, "The Desert Fox," etc. Since my command encompassed many square miles of the Mojave Desert, that last one seemed to be a natural. So, after a few months, I said to my second in command, "Virg, do the men have a nickname for me? You know, something to do with the desert maybe?"

"No," laughed Virg, "it has nothing to do with the desert."

"It's not . . .," I pleaded.

"Yep," he smiled broadly, "it's 'Willie K'."

Promotion to Major General brought with it command of a Marine Division in Vietnam. I felt this command might be my last chance to shake the "Willie K" handle. There had been plenty of opportunities in peacetime, yet no new nickname had surfaced. Why wasn't I lucky enough to have



some imaginative people in my commands who could think up an appropriate nickname I wondered? I knew I certainly could but no one ever asked me.

Commanders in Vietnam spent a large part of every day flying in helicopters over the battlefields visiting and directing their subordinate units. Consequently codenames, assigned by General Westmoreland's headquarters, were used to ensure communication security and to hide the identity of the command helicopter from enemy gunners.

Finally a code name was assigned to me that raised my bones. It was "Iron Hand." Ah ha! I thought, this has got to be it: "Iron Hand" Jones--what a splendid ring!

A short time later I was shot in the hand by an enemy sniper. Not a serious wound but the bullet broke a bone in my hand, necessitating the wearing of a cast for a month. This clinches it! I thought. A bullet in my hand--"Iron Hand"! It's so obvious anyone should be able to spot its appropriateness. So, in all my visits to the troops there was my bandaged hand for all to see--admittedly with some help from me on occasion.

The end of my tour and return to the United States was imminent. This time I decided to ask the Division Sergeant Major and my Aide-de-Camp the magic question. The three of us were walking toward the helicopter for our daily visit to various units.

"Gentlemen," I said, "throughout my career each of my commands had their own nickname for me. I don't suppose the men have any nickname for me although I do recall some Marine Corps generals having them, such as 'Red Mike' Edson and 'Howlin Mad' Smith."

The young Captain looked apprehensively at the Sergeant Major so I knew that there was indeed a nickname. "Iron Hand" Jones, I thought, looking expectantly at the Sergeant Major.

"Yes, sir," said the Sergeant Major, looking me in the eye. When his stern leathery face broke into a huge smile, my heart sank.

"It's still 'Willie K'," he said proudly, "just like when I was in your battalion on Tarawa."

Well, damn! I thought. I hoped I wouldn't complete my career with that wet noodle handle. But when? Time was getting short.

Looking out of my office in the hilltop headquarters of Fleet Marine Force Pacific the view was inspiring. Pearl Harbor lay a mile or so in the distance. Many ships of the Pacific Fleet were clearly discernible in the bright sunlight--some at anchor, others moving into and out of the harbor. Promotion to Lieutenant General and having command of around eight thousand Marines and sailors was heady indeed.

Never thought I'd be standing here, I mused. Then I almost laughed out loud. My old fantasy suddenly emerged again. Surely somewhere amongst all of these men and women there were some imaginative souls who would bury this "Willie Kr" bit once and for all. Maybe "Iron Hand"?



We started giving and attending a series of good-bye parties as is the custom. One balmy evening my wife and I were sitting outside the officers' club in my official car. Being early for a reception, we decided to enjoy the soft fragrant air and the lights of Pearl Harbor.

As we were sitting there, two young Marines walked by. Their conversation, clearly audible, indicated that one had just arrived from the mainland and the other was showing him around.

They approached my car, a black Chrysler identical in appearance to the car of my superior, a four star Admiral. The "Old Timer" started to again inform the newcomer.

"All the guys around here who rate stars have plates with the right number of stars on them mounted in front of their cars. The Navy uses dark blue plates, the Air Force light blue and the Army and Marines bright red ones. Now that black Chrysler there belongs to the Commander in Chief of the Pacific," he said, his young voice ringing with importance. "When we get around in front you'll see his dark blue plate with four big silver stars on it."

Realizing they couldn't see us sitting in the car, my wife and I remained silent, smiling with the knowledge of what they would see in a few moments. Then a thought occurred! Hey! Maybe this is it! I'll bet I'll hear a new nickname for me.

Bending down in front of the car, they both examined the plate. When the voice of the "Old Timer" rang out, I learned that "Willie K” was no longer hip.

"Oh, no," he said regretfully, "It's just Jonesy-baby."

It was time to retire!

[End of Chapter 6]

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