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Hamilton – Bruce Donald Jones, 93 of Hamilton passed away Sunday, September 15, 2019 at his home in Hamilton. Bruce was born in a Nebraska farm house on October 29, 1925 with his beloved brother Phillip, age 18 mos. at the bedside.
The family moved to Colorado in 1933 and later to Lodi, California in 1934. He attended Lodi Schools, graduating in the High School Class of 1943. He spent his freshman year of College at the University of the Pacific.
During World War II he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in April 1944. His first assignment was Army Basic Training at Amarillo Texas. The next year was spent waiting for Army Air Force Cadet Pilot Training. On August 12, 1945, he married his high school sweetheart, Roberta (Bobbi) Jensen. Japan surrendered in August 1945 and Bruce was discharged from the Army in October 1945.
The next four years were spent in the paint business in Lodi, where two children Cheryl and Cynthia were born in 1947 and 1949. With Communism spreading, he rejoined the U.S. Army Air Corps in April 1949 entering basic pilot training at San Angelo, Texas, flying T-6's. On to Advanced Flying School at Williams AFB Arizona in F-80 Shooting Star (Americas First Jet) and graduated in August 1950.
His first assignment was Belfridge AFB Michigan flying F-80 jets for 6 months then to Ascoda Michigan the next 6 months. In August 1951, he was assigned to Sucuon Korea 51st FIW for a combat tour over North Korea in F-80's and fighting M1G-15's in supersonic F-86Es. He returned to the U.S. in 1952 and was assigned to Hamilton AFB until 1958. During this time he flew right wing on the ADC Sabre Knight demonstration team, forerunner to the USAF Thunderbirds, and was promoted to Captain. In 1957, he was selected to be Air Defense Commands XF-104 test pilot at Edwards AFB, California. He flew Mach 2 on his second flight in June 1957. The family, with their new son Jeffrey, was transferred to Moses Lake, Larson AFB in 1958 where Bruce continued flying the F-104A there. While there he set a world intercept record and was awarded the General Electric Trophy by General Le May in 1959.
The Air Force sent him to USC in 1959 and then selected him for the duty with the German Air Force in 1960 as an ASAF representative. He remained there until 1964, promoted to Major, and reassigned to Luke AFB Arizona to continue training German pilots in German F104's. The Luftwaffe awarded him the GAF Wings in appreciation of his service. In 1966, he was promoted to Lt. Col. and attended USC graduate program and became Luke AFB's Chief of Safety. He continued flying the F-104.
Lt. Col. Jones was reassigned to Nha Trang Vietnam in January 1968 as Senior Air Force Commander with the 5th special forces (Green Berets) flying the O-1 and O-2 spotter aircraft accruing over 600 combat hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for action in saving a trapped Delta Force near Da Wang in September 1968. Returning to the U.S. in 1969, he was assigned to McClellan AFB Sacramento, CA as USAF world wide F-104 manager and two years in the Inspector General's office. In 1973, he was reassigned to Aviano AFB, Italy as Deputy Commander for Logistics. His family accompanied him on the German assignment as well as Italy. Lt. Col. Jones returned to the US in 1976 and was assigned to Mother AFB Calif. after 30 years of military service he retired.
He and his wife lived in Sacramento, CA until 1990 attending to his parents and Bobbi's mother. After their demise they moved to Hamilton, MT to be near their daughter, Cheryl and her two grandchildren Christopher and Samantha. However they continued traveling in their RV until 2000.
Bruce lived to fly, ski, golf, travel, read, play bridge, collect books, garden, and was especially involved in the Hamilton Farmer's Market. Known as “Farmer Jones” he served as Market Master for many years where he sold cherries, huckleberries and produce from his garden.
Bruce and Bobbi celebrated their 74 years of marriage in August 2019 and were both Born Again Christians belonging to the Assembly of God Church.
He is survived by his wife Bobbi; daughter, Cheryl (Doug) Kikkert; son, Jeffrey Jones; grandchildren, Christopher (Leanna) Schoeneman, Samantha (Carey) Schmidt, Amber (Patrick) Jenkins, Meagan Jones and Gabriel (Morgan) Jones; great grandchildren, Jackson, Josie, Charlise, Robin and Desiree; numerous nephews, nieces in Montana and California as well as their church family at the Assembly of God Church.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Hamilton Assembly of God Church with Pastor John Weaver officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at Riverview Cemetery in Hamilton.