United States Air Force

Service Reflections of SSGT Robert Floyd Jones, U.S. Air Force (1966-1976)


The following Reflections represents SSGT Robert Floyd Jones’s legacy of his military service from 1966 to 1976. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life. Start recording your own Military Memories HERE.

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Air Force.

90650-Medical Administrative Specialist

After one semester in our local “community college” (Edison Junior College), my grades were below the minimum to avoid the draft. Shortly after that, I received a draft notice. Having had relatives in the military, I was resigned to the fact I would have to serve, and I wanted to select a “specialty” that would help me after I had served my country. There was nothing in the Army I wanted to pursue, and I visited my Air Force Recruiter for his input.

After reviewing the many opportunities, I elected to follow the career path of a weather observer. The recruiter was delighted, and I signed the necessary documents and shipped out a couple of weeks later. However, little did I know when I reached basic training and once again had to complete the career paperwork documents that my chosen career field WAS NOT AVAILABLE! I was given three choices, AIR POLICE, COOKS, OR MEDICS? Preferring an air-conditioned working environment compared to a hot kitchen or blistering warm perimeter, I chose the medical field.

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

She made me do it!

Looking back, I wholeheartedly loved serving my country. My job in hospital administration was fulfilling, challenging and fun. I worked with some of the world’s best physicians, corpsmen, civilians, and patients. At no time did I regret my service time? I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to join the medical evaluation team stationed in Germany just prior to my discharge. My wife and I had two small children and had lived in England for three years with limited visits to parents and friends in the States. She decided to go home, and I agreed. Reflecting, we both feel it might have been better to stay as I was close to finishing college and would have applied to OCS.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?

Wounded Hero, Pray for Honor and Courage

As a Detachment 1, 57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron member in Saigon from Aug 68 to Aug 69, I was fortunate to come in contact with 17,000+ wounded Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force servicemen. One of my jobs included briefing outgoing wounded or sick patients on the aircraft loading procedures before leaving the Ton San Nhut hospital. Following my briefing utilizing a megaphone, I would walk through the ward and answer questions from the patients. One day in March 69, I approached the bed of a soldier who had lost a leg in battle. His spirits were high at the thought of going home, and on top of that, he had received a gift box in the mail. He had opened it when I approached him. I asked if it was a Christmas gift that arrived late, and he replied, “No, it’s a birthday present and only three weeks late.” He continued, saying, “Hey, sergeant, do you need a black sock?” I replied no, I don’t need a single sock. He returned with, “Me neither, I only have one leg, so I don’t need two socks?” My heart dropped for an instant, and I knew I had to come up with a good reply, so I said, I don’t know about you, but I lose about a sock a month somehow and never find them. If I were you, I’d hold onto it as a spare. He looked back at me and said, “You’re right; I just got to get used to this one-legged thing in a hurry.”

That’s one example of the attitudes and courage I witnessed in my year in Viet Nam. I’ll never forget that young man and pray for his life after Viet Nam was as great as his attitude.

Did you encounter a situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? Please describe what happened and what was the outcome.

There were only a few instances where something could have happened, but the chances were very small. Our unit supported a Viet Nam Orphanage just outside Saigon. Once a month, we’d take supplies and donations from our families out to the Sisters taking care of the orphans. The drive to the orphanage was 45 minutes each way and in heavy traffic. The jitneys and motorcycles were too many to count, and they had the tendency to tailgate everyone. On each trip, one of us was selected to ride in the back of the truck to keep the potential threat of someone dropping a hand grenade into the bed of our truck. We were armed with loaded M-16s and told only to show the weapon if someone got too close to our vehicle. It happened many times, going and coming, but as soon as the weapon was raised, they backed off quickly.

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?

Vietnam stands out as the most rewarding. However, Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, was my first permanent duty station and favorite, primarily due to the friendships formed working at a larger military hospital. Barracks life was entertaining, and the card games were vicious. My first military best friend was met there, and we formed a lasting bond. I had the pleasure of introducing him to his wife prior to leaving for VietNam. Sadly he died way too early after separating from the Air Force. Looking back, there is not a single place I worked and lived that I didn’t enjoy, including Viet Nam.

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

Military Good Guys

I separated from the Air Force in 1969 and reenlisted in June 1971. My first sergeant was TSGT Gerald Lester. On my way to the new assignment, I was involved in an auto accident and lost my car for six weeks. After moving my wife to my new assignment (Myrtle Beach AFB, SC) with no car, TSGT Lester would pick me up each morning and drop me off each night. It was out of his way, but his kindness wouldn’t be deterred. Present in the office was an airman named Michael J Pierce, who was an A2C. He more or less retrained me back into military life. He remains to this day, one of my best friends. Sadly, TSGT Lester passed away while on leave prior to departing for Thailand.

What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?

Limited but proud

My Viet Nam commendation, an expert at firearms, and the AF Commendation Medal.

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

Not Worthy Yet Grateful

AF Commendation Medal. I didn’t feel I deserved any medals for my service time. I love my country and was prepared to do as I was told. For simply obeying orders, I received this commendation, and it made me appreciate my service even more.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

Again, TSgt Lester was extremely kind and generous in providing my transportation needs for six months. With very little money and certainly, not enough to purchase or rent another vehicle, his kindness instilled in me to want to pay it forward.

List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

Life Long Friends

Michael J Baker, one of my roommates at Forbes AFB, Ks. Simply an extremely nice young man with a great sense of humor. He accompanied me to Florida on leave once, plus I got the opportunity to introduce him to his wife. He died far too soon.

Michael J Pierce (Joan – spouse), Myrtle Beach AFB, SC, 1971 – 1973. After re-entering the service, I chose MB and AFB as my duty station, and it was Mike’s job to train me even though I was his superior by one stripe. As lower-ranking airmen, money wasn’t something we could brag about. With our wives, we discovered ways to stretch our budgets and enjoy life with what we had. We remain good friends today.

Arnold Lutz (Barbara – spouse), RAF Alconbury, England 1973-1976. We met while in England, and the friendship continues to this day. There are few couples in this world we love and adore more than this pair, along with the (Pierces). There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for one another, and we enjoy being together when possible.

Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

The Big Lie

While stationed at Forbes AFB, Ks, I was in charge of the admissions section. Both entry into and exiting the hospital, I was involved in some fashion. Working within my work group was a civilian named Jo Anne. She was a robust, lovely woman, and we exchanged many jokes and good times. One week we admitted a “Major General” who had retired but came in for a routine procedure. He was in the hospital for about three days and discharged normally. Several days after he left, Jo Anne asked me, “Whatever happened to the general you admitted?” I replied, “You didn’t hear? No, she replied, then with a sad voice, told her, “I discharged him, and as he got to the steps leaving the hospital, he collapsed and died of a heart attack!” She remarked how said it was, and I chuckled and went on my way with a big grin on my face. It wasn’t more than 45 minutes later that a voice came over the PA system summoning me to the hospital commander’s office along with another specialist name Timothy J Mahoney. As we stood at attention in front of the colonel, he sternly stated, “I just got a call from the base commander that a retired general dropped dead on the hospital’s steps, and I want to know who started this rumor. He continued, I can only think of two people, and I want to know which you are responsible for my less than cordial telephone call. Of course, Tim denied and why not? He had no knowledge of the incident. So I did the right thing and DENIED it as well. The OC simply said, I don’t care who did it, but if something like this happens again, you both will suffer severe consequences. Turning and walking away, Tim asks, what’s he talking about? I just told him, I DON’T KNOW!

What profession did you follow after your military service, and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

The only disappointment I experienced with my service occurred just after leaving. I was told at separation my training in the medical field qualified me for a “hospital registrar” position. I loved the job and specifically chose a small town in Florida with one hospital as my target for employment. I interviewed with HR and was quickly told my experience was helpful, but I needed an undergrad degree to actually be qualified. I had almost three years of college by now, but heartbroken, I couldn’t just step into the job.

So as a newly discharged veteran with two children, I had to go to work. I got a position with a local liquor distributor and sold wine and spirits for six years before being offered a position with Jack Daniel’s Distillery as a regional salesman. I remained with JD for 20 years, then retired early. I brokered some small brands and reintroduced “Four Roses” into Georgia along with other minor and small brands during the period. I left the spirits industry after 30 years and became a real estate salesman and, to this day, dabble in the field.

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?

Keep that straight

To this day, and my family will back me up, I remain a sharp, crisp appearance in public. I always maintain a strict “gig line” and always wear creased trousers or shorts.

I miss the friendships I shared when money was tight and the bonds that were created that continue in my old age.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Air Force?

Give the Air Force a Chance

Give the military service a CHANCE! Don’t start planning today what you’re going to do after you get out. Do your job the best way you can, and you’ll be rewarded. The pay will get better, and maybe not what you could make on the outside, but single or married, the military will have the backs of those who give it their best. Continue your education; if OCS isn’t possible, stay 20+ years and retire. You’ll be in your 40s and can then, with your experience, obtain great-paying jobs in your specialty. Ensure you train in something that is useful in civilian life.

In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

Actually, it was a good friend whom I met up with last year that pulled those memories back. This organization is great for all of us who served, and we can honor each other through it.

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Tags: Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, AF Commendation Medal, Air Force, Air Force Veterans of Viet Nam, Army, Forbes Air Force Base, Marine, Myrtle Beach AFB, Navy, OCS, RAF Alconbury, TWS


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