Brig. Gen Stan Jones will always be remembered as a mentor both during his career in the Nevada Army National Guard and afterward as a retired soldier who saw the need for veterans to remain in touch with each other.
Retired Col. Joanne Farris and Command Sgt. Major Walter Willson wanted to do more for retirees after they left the military, and they attribute Jones, who was born in Nebraska but grew up in Idaho, for their initial vision.
Enter Carson City’s Jones, the soldier’s soldier, who died on Dec. 28. A military service conducted at the Northern Nevada Veterans Military Cemetery’s pavilion in Fernley on Jan. 12 honored the 88-year-old Jones, who first enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1953 before retiring from the Guard in 1985. Many soldiers who served during Jones’ tenure in the Guard attended a 90-minute military service to say their final goodbyes to a man who also became synonymous with Carson City as a valued community member, leader and business owner of the Purple Avocado with Sue, his wife of 37 years.
More than two decades ago, Farris, along with Willson and Larry Miller, another retiree, wanted to encourage others to become more involved as volunteers. They felt Jones was the one person who could “light the fire” for others to catch. Farris said a successful newsletter motivated retirees to become involved by writing articles and editorials, but Jones thought more emphasis should be given to an annual retirement ceremony.
“He felt it was a disservice to let soldiers leave the organization without a proper ceremony,” Farris recalled. “Through actions implemented from the retiree committee, the Retiree-of-the-Year and the retiree ceremony were combined. Stan wanted to ensure retirees came out so we invited Naval Air Station Fallon’s commissary to come to the state headquarters and do a parking lot sale during the retiree event. It did not end there: Stan noted Air Force retirees had a monthly breakfast, and the Army needed a way to get the retirees together and thus the Army retiree breakfast was born and still is in operation today.”
Sue Jones said her husband loved the Guard and all of the friends he met and knew over the years.
“That breakfast meant a lot to him to see and catch up with his old friends,” she said. “He has so many wonderful friends.”
Farris added Jones’ innovation was incredible, and his drive made events better.
“He told me, ‘Leave things better than you found them and make sure there is a process for ongoing operations,” reflected Farris, adding the monthly retiree breakfast at the Carson City Elks Club still attracts many soldiers and civilian employees.
Courtesy of the Jones family
Stan Jones receives the rank of brigadier general upon his retirement in 1985.
Unity in the Guard
Jones knew the importance of unity. During his three-decade career in the Guard, Jones spent countless hours on the road, traveling to armories extending from Hawthorne to Ely and Elko and then back to Reno and Carson City through Winnemucca, Fallon or Yerington. He either flew or drove to Las Vegas to meet with the troops. He had a knack of putting names to faces.
Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, the state’s adjutant general, said in his eulogy Jones was part of everyone’s lives.
“If you loved Carson City, you loved Stan Jones,” Berry said. “If you love this country, if you love what it stands for — its patriotism, its freedoms its democracy — then you loved Stan Jones because if you look at life, look at his blueprint.”
Berry said Jones gave much and how he displayed passion and love, this, Berry said, is how others should emulate and carry on in Jones’ tradition.
“When I think about a person’s life, what are the names they bring into the chapters of their lives to remember,” Berry rhetorically asked. “He wanted us to remember to love each other … he cared about his country. We have come together for a man with a life well lived.”
Berry commended Jones’ friends and family for braving the wintery day — the snow and bad roads — to attend the military service.
“Nothing is stopping me from being here to honor Stan,” Berry added. “Stan Jones walked this earth, and we are better for it. Everything he did — business, voluntary and military and life — he did it with passion.”
Retired Army Col. Joyce Anacker, a longtime friend of the Jones’ family, said the general was a wonderful mentor, not only for her but also for others. Once people met Jones, they were no longer a stranger.
“Once you knew Stan, you were a friend of his,” she pointed out.
Anacker said Jones enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a young 18-year-old and became a communications specialist. He then served for three years at Wheelus Air Force near Tripoli, the capital of Libya. After leaving Wheelus and other overseas duty assignments, Jones found himself In Nevada at the former Stead Air Force Base north of Reno. Once his enlistment ended, Anacker said Jones joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1958 and eventually assumed the rank of master sergeant.
“He was commissioned a first lieutenant in 1968 and with that and shortly after came the Pueblo crisis, Stan went to Korea and Japan and served over there,” Anacker said.
In late January 1968, North Koreans seized a U.S. Navy Banner-class environmental research ship. According to the Guard, more than 600 airmen from the 152nd Reconnaissance Group in Reno were activated.
Steve Ranson / LVN
Maj. Gen. Ondra, right, adjutant general for Nevada, delivers the eulogy for retired Brig. Gen Stan Jones on Jan. 12 at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Jones died Dec. 28 in Carson City
Advancing through the ranks
When Jones returned to Nevada, he switched services and joined the Army National Guard where he eventually rose through the ranks to colonel. Former Gov. Richard Bryan promoted him to brigadier general upon Jones’ retirement in 1985.
“That reflected his commitment to the military and to the personnel he served,” Anacker added.
Anacker said Jones spent nine years in the G-1 section (human resources and operational readiness) and helped many soldiers. She said the Nevada Army National Guard was so fortunate to have had Jones as an officer in state headquarters, which, at the time was located at the corner of South Carson and Colorado streets.
Upon his retirement, Jones served as the state’s director of the Selective Service which registered young men in case a draft was needed because of a national call-up. He was also a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Anacker said she and Sue Jones recently spent time perusing through his officer evaluations and noted comments of “the finest officer” to “the Nevada Guard was fortunate to have him.”
“He was a dear friend of mine,” Anacker said, her voice growing quieter.
Another longtime friend, retired Col. Dennis George, had served in Vietnam as an Army helicopter pilot. When he left active duty, George said he picked up the phone and called Jones. Because of Army policy at the time, George was allowed to join the Nevada Army National Guard but as a warrant officer. The two soldiers gradually developed a close friendship.
“Until he retired as the G-1, he was very invaluable to all of us,” said George, whose career also progressed, culminating with his retirement in 2000 as chief of staff.
George said Jones cared for the soldiers and also believed in mentoring. After he retired, George said Jones was also involved as a member of an advisory committee for the veterans’ cemetery in Fernley.
“He watched out for us,” George added.
Courtesy of the Jones family
In 1953, Stan Jones enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.
Friends for a lifetime
Retired Guardsman Tom Wilson said not only was Jones a pillar in the Carson City community but also a mentor to him.
“Stan was one of my cheerleaders many years ago as I made that decision to pursue a commission in the Nevada Army Guard,” Wilson said. “Many a time I confided in General Jones for career guidance and direction, and 99% of the time he was spot-on with the correct recommendation.”
Another helicopter pilot who migrated to Nevada in the mid-1970s was Don Kozacek, now a retired colonel. After he joined the Nevada Guard, Kozacek found himself drilling with an Elko battalion that oversaw the 72nd Military Police Co., in Fallon, Ely and Winnemucca.
“Stan would come up to Elko to see the staff, hang out, and then go to Ely,” said Kozacek, who traveled from his home in Oregon to Fernley for the service. “He had a nice demeanor. If you needed feedback, he was very complimentary … a great mentor.”
Kozacek said he also kept in contact with Jones after his retirement.
“He also kept a tab on what the people were doing,” Kozacek added. “Those were the good times.”
Likewise, retired Col. Charles “Chuck” Abbott was the Elko battalion’s administrative officer before relocating to Carson City to become the state’s retention officer. A year after Abbott had returned to state headquarters, though, Jones retired.
“He knew everybody,” Abbott said. “The first time I met him was at Fort Irwin when I was in a cavalry unit (221st Cavalry Regiment, Las Vegas).”
Abbott, who flew helicopters in Vietnam before returning home, had worked as a surveyor at a gold mine near Round Mountain before he relocated to Las Vegas. He said Round Mountain was too isolated for his family, especially for his three young sons.
During the years they served together in Nevada, Abbott said Jones was able to take the strong personalities and keep the officers and senior enlisted together to work as a team.
“He was the glue that held everything together,” Abbott said. “He tried to look out for everybody, and he was good about reading people, I always felt relaxed around him.”
After Jones retired, Abbott said he occasionally saw him in Carson City.
Retired Col. Lou Cabrera, who was first hired by former Maj. Gen. Floyd Edsall, the adjutant general, reported to Jones as the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) officer and then as the retention officer.
“Stan was one of those people who always listened to all advice, and we used him as a sounding board,” Cabrera pointed out.
Cabrera first began his career in Nevada with the 163rd Cavalry Squadron in Las Vegas and relocated to Reno to finish his degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. He drilled in Yerington for three years before his reassignment to Elko in the early 1980s.
After Jones retired, Cabrera said he, like many others, kept in contact with him at least once or twice a week.
“He was just a great mentor, a great friend,” Cabrera remembers.
Cabrera said Jones was the type of person who kept abreast of the Nevada Guard and its activities as though he never left the military. Over the years, attributes his love of the military to Jones and as a result, Cabrera accepted a tour at the Pentagon.
Steve Ranson / LVN
Sue Jones, center, widow of retired Brig. Gen. Stan Jones, prepares to place her husband’s remains at the columbarium wall on Jan. 12 at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The best advice
Brig. Gen. Robert Hayes, who retired in 2003, said Jones was one of the first officers he met after returning from Vietnam.
“When I joined (the Guard), I didn’t know about the Nevada National Guard. He was the one who gave the best advice and best guidance,” said Hayes, who flew helicopters in Vietnam and served in the Panama Canal Zone with the 193rd Infantry Brigade and Headquarters, U.S. Army South. “I knew he was a shaker and mover when I first met him. He had all the key people as friends in the National Guard.”
Hayes said Jones was very willing to share his thoughts.
“He was there to help,” Hayes added. “When he was a G-1, I’d go to him for solid advice.”
When Hayes enlisted in the Nevada Guard, he accepted a warrant officer position and worked his way up the ladder, culminating with 36 years of service — eight on active duty
During the past few years, Hayes said he kept in contact with Jones and occasionally would stop at the Purple Avocado to visit with his friend and former mentor. They would also attend lunches and catch up on the day’s news.
In looking back at his years in the military, Hayes said he is indebted to Jones —
“He changed everything for me. He gave me good guidance and I listened to it.”