BATON ROUGE, La. — Johnnie A. Jones Sr., a Louisiana civil rights legal professional and World Conflict II veteran who was wounded through the D-Day invasion of Normandy, has died. Jones was 102 years outdated.
Jones’ goddaughter, Mada McDonald, informed WAFB-TV that Jones died Saturday on the Louisiana Conflict Veterans’ House in Jackson, Louisiana.
Jones was born Nov. 30, 1919 in Laurel Hill, Louisiana and raised on Rosemound Plantation by his mother and father, who farmed 73 acres of land however insisted that their son get an schooling. He graduated from Southern College after which was drafted in 1942. He grew to become the Military’s first African American warrant officer. He was assigned to a unit answerable for unloading tools and provides onto Normandy.
In the course of the June 6, 1944 invasion — as Jones got here ashore on Omaha Seaside — he got here beneath hearth from a German sniper. Jones grabbed his weapon and returned hearth, a reminiscence that haunted him all his life.
“I nonetheless see him, I see him each evening,” Jones informed The Related Press in a 2019 interview.
Jones virtually by no means made it to the beachhead that day. His ship hit a mine, and he was blown from the second deck to the primary. The explosion, “blew me sky excessive into the air,” Jones was quoted as saying in an Division of Veterans Affairs interview. Later, Jones received hit with shrapnel when he didn’t hit the bottom quick sufficient throughout a bomb assault.
By the tip of World Conflict II, greater than one million African Individuals have been in uniform together with the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the 761st Tank Battalion. However they returned from the warfare solely to come across discrimination again residence.
Jones informed the AP in 2019 that after getting back from Europe, he needed to transfer to the again of a bus stuffed with fellow troopers because it crossed the Mason-Dixon line separating North from South.
“I couldn’t sit with the troopers I had been on the battlefield with. I needed to go to the again of the bus,” mentioned Jones. Furthermore, whereas touring to New Orleans to get shrapnel faraway from his neck, Jones was pulled over by a white police officer and roughed up.
Such occasions served as a name to motion, to combat racism. He obtained a legislation diploma and was recruited in 1953 to assist arrange a bus boycott in Baton Rouge and defend the members. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King used that occasion to plan his bigger bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, a number of years later.
Jones additionally defended college students arrested throughout sit-ins as civil rights protests gained momentum within the South. His automotive was bombed twice.
The French authorities in 2020 introduced Jones with the Legion of Honor award for his World Conflict II service.
It took many years for Jones’ sacrifice and braveness throughout World Conflict II to be acknowledged. In 2021 — at age 101 — he lastly acquired a Purple Coronary heart, which is awarded to U.S. service members killed or wounded in motion.
The Louisiana Digital Library has an interview with Jones on its web site.
Funeral preparations are pending, McDonald informed the TV station.