Lloyd Clay Jones was born in Macomb, Illinois on September 16th, 1931. There is not much record of his life before the army. He enlisted in the year 1949, as he retired after 20 years of service in 1969. Two years into his service he married Jean Roma Johnson on May 3rd, 1951, in Moline, Illinois near his home town. The course of his career was set in 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War.
The first conflict that Jones fought in as a soldier in the United States Army was the Korean War. On June 25th, 1950, approximately 75,000 North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel dividing line to invade South Korea. Backed by the communist Soviet Union, America’s rival in the Cold War, the North Koreans put the South Korean army on the defensive. US President Harry Truman saw this North Korean invasion as a proxy for the Soviets to spread communism, ““If we let Korea down… the Soviet[s] will keep right on going and swallow up one [place] after another.” The US Army was sent to intervene, where they faced a brutal summer campaign; “It was one of the hottest and driest summers on record, and desperately thirsty American soldiers were often forced to drink water from rice paddies that had been fertilized with human waste. As a result, dangerous intestinal diseases and other illnesses were a constant threat.” President Truman brought in General Douglas MacArthur to try to turn the tide of the war. MacArthur shifted the US to the offensive, with the intention of liberating North Korea from dictatorial communist rule. Ultimately, the US and South Koreans were able to fight the North Koreans and their allies to a standstill, and a ceasefire was called that remains to this day. Jones saw the war through from its outbreak to this unsteady conclusion and continued on in his service.
Jones then served in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was fought between the communist North Vietnamese and the United States backed South Vietnamese. Initially, the US only supported the South Vietnamese with military advisors to train their forces. However, in August of 1964, North Vietnamese submarines attacked two US destroyer ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. This caused President Johnson to initiate wide-scale bombing campaigns against the North Vietnamese, and to send US troops to Vietnam. During the Vietnam war period, Jones would have obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant. In this role Jones served as a leader of his fellow soldiers in squads of 9 to 10. Jones had to display great courage and admirable skill in leadership during this time in order to guide his men through the brutal jungle warfare faced by US forces in Vietnam.
Jones retired from the army in 1969, returning to his native Macomb with his wife Jean to raise their three children. Jones’ son Herbert L. Jones eventually followed him into service in the armed forces in 1970 by enlisting with the Navy.
Lloyd Clay Jones died suddenly on Friday, October 26th, 1973. He was survived by his wife and children, and seven brothers and sisters. He leaves behind the legacy of a United States soldier who served during some of the most arduous conflicts in the Nation’s history, continuing to serve despite the hardships of war until his retirement.