On his 99th birthday, Wildwood resident Lt. Col. Bud Jones, Army Air Corps, retired, was in for a surprise. His daughter, Pat, had encouraged him to sit outside and visit with his grandchildren.
After a little while, Pat said, “You remember Kelly from the Honor Flight?” Bud said, “yes” and Pat continued, “Well, Kelly and I have a little surprise for you.”
Moments later, Bud heard sirens and asked, “What’s going on? What is all that commotion?” Pat told him, “Wait and see.”
The commotion was a birthday parade led by Kelly Witternauer, charity liaison f
“Metro West FPD was also in on the planning but they got a call – a house fire in Ballwin – just before the parade so they had to miss it,” Wittenauer said.
Jones, who retired as a major from Troop F after 30 years of service to the Missouri Highway Patrol, particularly enjoyed seeing his fellow first responders.
“He is an incredible man,” said Wittenauer, who met Bud and Pat when she sat next to them on an Honor Flight in March 2019. “Basically, this man’s entire life has been dedicated to our country and local community!”
According to Wittenauer, Jones flew 117 combat missions during his years in the Army Air Corps. He has two Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals and was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
He has some incredible stories from his years of service to the country and state, Wittenauer said.
“He was one of the first fighter pilots to fly P-47s in WWII and he can remember every detail about how he landed his airplane after enemy anti-aircraft rounds hit his oil line and covered his canopy in oil except for a quarter-sized hole in his windshield,” Wittenauer shared.
“He said he landed the plane by the seat of his pants,” Pat added.
As a state highway patrolman, Jones had a run in with two escaped prisoners who shot a .22 caliber bullet into his Highway Patrol car windshield. That bullet split in two and hit him on his seat belt. It was the second time, he survived a bullet through a windshield.
“They should call him the Windshield King!” Wittenauer exclaimed.
“Just don’t call him a hero,” Pat shared. “He doesn’t see himself as a hero. He was just a man doing his job.”
So thanks, Bud, for a job well done – and Happy Birthday!