Photo Gallery: Sussex County Memorial Day Service


GEORGETOWN — Memorial Day is a federal holiday for remembering, honoring and mourning U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the armed forces.

Memorial Day is every day for retired Lt. Col. Kenneth Jones. His older brother, U.S. Army Warrant Officer Frank Jones was among the more than 58,000 American service personnel who died in the Vietnam War.

“My brother is remembered by many, and he is thought of on Memorial Day. But those of us that are Gold Star Families, every day is Memorial Day,” said Lt. Col. Jones.

WO Jones, a 1964 graduate of Georgetown High School, died June 30, 1968, while on helicopter duty in the Pleiku Province in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. He was 21.

“When Frank was in Vietnam, we would watch Walter Cronkite every night as they constantly covered the war,” said Lt. Col. Jones, whose father Bill “Cap” Jones was a World War II Army veteran. “We would watch to see where the fighting was that day, and how high was the body count.”

On July 1, 1968, the Jones family received a telegram “telling us that Warrant Officer Frank W. Jones was missing in action. It was all a bit much. My father knew that if Frank was okay, we would receive another telegram, but if two officers showed up at the door, in uniform, the news was not going to be very good.”

“Three agonizing days later, on the Fourth of July 1968, two officers showed up at our door, knocked on the door and gave us the bad news that my brother was in fact killed in action,” said Lt. Col. Jones. “The next few weeks were kind of a blur.”

While the Jones family lived in Claymont at that time, the service for WO Jones was held in Georgetown, their true “home.”

WO Jones is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his mother and father. They share the same headstone.

“Memorial Day is about those veterans like my brother Frank, Dickie Stevenson and the others … who all gave their lives for our country. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in advance of our great nation. These are the ones that gave their all for their country so that you and I can live our lives free from tyranny and oppression,” Lt. Col. Jones said.

As usual, the annual ceremony traditionally held on the Sunday before Memorial Day drew a large turnout.

“It’s always a pleasure to see everybody here on the Circle in Georgetown, not to celebrate Memorial Day, but to be here in solemn remembrance and with deep gratitude for the men and women who gave their all for this country,” said State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, the master of ceremonies. “To all of them, our eternal gratitude is owed not only by us but by future generations as well.”

Pastor Robert Longo of the Georgetown Drive-In Worship gave the invocation.

“On this Memorial Day weekend, we pray for America’s defenders of freedom, who courageously laid down their lives for us in our liberty here in America. We also recognize the families of those they left behind,” Pastor Long said.

Georgetown Mayor Bill West pointed to the many American flags in the Circle, through the Flags for Heroes program.

“It’s sign of freedom, isn’t it? It’s something that the service people give us, freedom to be able to do things we want to do,” Mayor West said. “We need to thank them.”

“There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about my brother,” Lt. Col. Jones said. “ I think he would have been a great husband, a great father. And he would have been very proud of me when I was commissioned to second lieutenant in 1980.”

“To this day, taps always gets me,” Lt. Col. Jones added. “It is just the finality of taps. It’s always just a reminder of the finality of death.”

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