Allen Jones – Another WWII hero

Published 10:32 am Friday, June 24, 2016

by Bob Holt
Retired NBC newsman Tom Brokaw first coined the phrase “the greatest generation” in his 1998 bestselling book of the same name. He wanted to pay tribute to that group of dedicated Americans who endured both the tribulations of the Great Depression and the challenges of World War II.

Franklin residents Allen and Hope Jones both represent the best of that generation. Allen served his country as a fighter/bomber pilot, and Hope kept things as normal as possible at home while giving birth to Allen, Jr., their first of two children.

A Georgia native, Allen, who will be 98 in November, attended college in that state and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941. He began as an aircraft mechanic but was determined to become a pilot. After flight training in Texas and Virginia, he headed to England as part of the 8th Air Force. There he met Franklin native Jack Ray who also served as a pilot.

Allen flew a P-47 Thunderbolt, a propeller aircraft developed for WWII and designed both for air-to-air combat as well as low altitude bombing. The P-47 was armed with eight 50 caliper machine guns and could carry bomb loads of 2500 pounds.

Most of Allen’s assigned missions were over German-occupied France and later Germany. He flew 51 missions targeting mainly aircraft factories and oil refineries. He only encountered enemy opposition once, and then the German pilot did not stay in the dogfight but a short time before leaving the area.

On D-Day and for days after, his missions were to fly over the action on the ground and monitor and report German troop movements. Allen stated that “one of our biggest concerns was fuel consumption. The P-47 had a range of 800 miles and flying from England over France and Germany and then back to England did not leave much room for error when seeking targets and returning to base. We had to watch our fuel gauge.” Allen attained the rank of Captain and served in the Reserves after the war with the rank of Major.

In 1957, the Jones family, now numbering four with the addition of daughter Judi, moved to Franklin when Allen joined Union Camp Corporation as a mill planner. He ended his career in 1982 as a manager in sales administration and customer service.

An avid golfer until a few years ago, Allen once shot an 80 when he was 80 years old, a feat receiving a mention in Golf Digest magazine.

Knowing that Hope and the entire country were with you made all the difference in the world. He closed our conversation by saying “everybody was behind you!”

ROBERT N. “BOB” HOLT a Franklin native, is a retired professor of business management and real estate at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies degrees from Virginia Tech, and was a member of the university’s Corps of Cadets. His e-mail address is