At 98 years old, William “Bill” Jones, Class of 1942, still reflects on his time at Texas A&M in the Corps of Cadets and the role he possessed while serving in three wars after graduation.
As an Army pilot, Jones served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. While overseas, he was a member of a program formerly known as Army Aviation.
Jones recalls spending only $25 a semester to attend A&M while pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in zoology. After receiving his diploma, Jones awaited the call to serve and taught zoology at Baylor University for three years.
“When I graduated, that was the height of the depression,” Jones said. “All you could do in science was teach, so I decided to teach at the college level at Baylor.”
Jones was drafted into active duty with the 95th division in San Antonio, and from there was stationed as a pilot in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea during WWII.
“When the war ended, I was in the Philippines,” Jones said. “Thank Heavens it ended because I was scheduled to make landings on the coast of Japan, and that would have been a brutal thing. I don’t think a lot of us would have survived that.”
Following his time in the service, Jones made a return to campus and said he hardly recognized the place that helped prepare him for his time in the Army.
“After serving for four years overseas, I hadn’t gotten the chance to head back to campus,” Jones said. “But when I did, it was hard to find any building that I recognized. When I was there, there were only 8,000 students, 2,100 of which were in my class. Only 800 of us actually graduated back then.”
Although the Memorial Student Center was constructed after his last visit to Aggieland, Jones said he appreciates the intentions and values that the building upholds.
“The MSC was a happy thing,” Jones said. “It sure was well needed. I’m sure it serves a wonderful purpose.”
As he nears his 99th birthday, Jones said he has not kept up with A&M in recent years; however, he said he still remembers participating in age old Aggie traditions like Midnight Yell at the YMCA building, Bonfire and Elephant Walk.
Jones’ friend and neighbor, Gary Southerland, Class of 1983, has listened to the veteran’s stories for over 15 years. Southerland said Jones’ experiences before, during and after the war always keep him coming back for more.
“He continues to tell me stories, and I just really admire this guy,” Southerland said. “He’s just an amazing man.”