LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) – Tuskegee Airman Rev. James “Jimmy” Jones was laid to rest in Lumberton on Saturday as friends and family gathered to celebrate his life.
“He shared his life with the State of North Carolina, with Robeson County,” Jones’ son, Courtney, said. “We’re very proud of him and he is where he wanted to be.” Courtney Jones said he always knew of his father’s military service but didn’t find out he was a Tuskegee Airman until 2010.
“’Dad, you’re a Tuskegee?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah,’ very calm about it,” Jones said. “Reached out to the military, got his service records, and finally got him recognized. He’s been proudly wearing his red coat ever since that day.”
Even in the military, Jones said his father frequently faced racial discrimination. He recalled one story about his father crossing a segregated training field.
“It led to a fight, a full-on fight of being jumped on and being disciplined,” Jones said. “Not being kicked out of the military, but being put on extra duty as a result of that protest.”
During the service, Roy White, vice president of the Wilson V. Eagleson Tuskegee Airman Chapter, spoke of the importance of remembering the dark parts of America’s history. He said even after serving in the military, they were treated as second-class citizens.
“They had to sit at the back of the bus while German prisoners of war were seated in front of them,” White said. “They could not go into the places to eat where German POWs could.”
Rev. James Jones went on to become a serial entrepreneur and pastor. He also received the Congressional Gold Medal for his time with the Tuskegee Airmen. Jones was 93.