Residents remember ‘living sacrifices’
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2000
&uot;I want to thank all of you for getting up so early to meet my dad,&uot; Claudia Stephens told a small group of veterans and their family members Sunday morning as she stood over her father’s grave at City Cemetery in Natchez.
Members of the Mississippi chapter of the World War II &uot;Mighty&uot; 8th Air Force gathered in the cemetery for a memorial service of those comrades buried there as a fitting close to the group’s weekend reunion held in Natchez this year to coincide with Veteran’s Day.
Her father, John Moye Jones, Stephens told the silent crowd, was shot down over Nazi Germany on his 13th bombing mission in WWII and held as a prisoner of war for more than a year.
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&uot;On his 13th mission, he decided it might be an unlucky number, so he wore his parachute,&uot; she said.
While in the prison camp, Jones kept a detailed diary of every thought, including a list of the first item he would buy at the grocery store when he returned home.
&uot;It really makes you have an understanding of what some of you went through,&uot; Stephens said.
Other family members and widowed spouses had similar stories to tell of the five members of the &uot;Mighty 8th&uot; buried in Natchez.
Tiffee Jordan, widow of John &uot;Jo Jo&uot; Jordan, brought along her husband’s medals &uot;because I’m so proud of him.&uot;
Daughter Ruthie Coy spoke on behalf of her father, Col. Richard Ellis Conner, whose outstanding service in the second world war earned him the title of &uot;ace.&uot;
As one of the first Baby Boomers, Coy said she was not able to appreciate the war until her father began talking about his experiences years later.
&uot;Thank you,&uot; she told the surviving veterans. &uot;It’s because of what you did that allowed us to have happy childhoods.&uot;
The early morning procession ended atop Jewish Hill with a memorial service led by Chaplain Col. Billy J. Jones.
&uot;Only the memory keeps them alive in our hearts and minds,&uot; he said. &uot;Their graves are really empty.&uot;
&uot;It is fitting that we come to this precise moment today that we remember those who have presented themselves as living sacrifices,&uot; Jones said.