Technical Sergeant Jordan L. Jones
Radio Repair & Maintenance Platoon, 84th Signal Company, 84th Infantry Division
Jordan L. Jones was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and while in school, thrived in mechanical engineering. When he graduated he applied and was hired as a lineman and field repairman for the Southern California Telephone Company. Traveling across large portions of the state, Jones refined his technical skills and became a proficient master of communications equipment and its upkeep, knowledge that would serve him well later on.
With the rise of tensions worldwide and the threat of war looming on the horizon, Jones thought it best to join up early and let use skills for the greater good. In January of 1940, he signed up for the California National Guard and was attached to the 250th Coastal Artillery regiment. Based out of San Francisco, Jones would work to upkeep the ancient artillery pieces utilized by the guard. It was a fairly easy duty that kept him busy until all of America was thrown into a whirl with the attacks on Pearl Harbor. With the country now at war, Jones felt the need to move past the guard and transferred to the national army.
Moving past his position with the artillery, Jones discovered a more comfortable home with the US Army signal corps. Just as critical as the guns needed to arm the military were the radios, telephones, wires, and related logistics that kept everyone in contact with one another on and off the battlefield. With his high level of skills picked up in the telephone company, Jones was a natural fit. He qualified highly in all of the required areas but focused on the upkeep of hardware utilized by the armed forces.
By 1942 Jones had completed his training and was already active in stateside operations, but his skills were needed elsewhere. In October of that year, the 84th Infantry Division “Railsplitters” were revived at Camp Howze, Texas, and recruitment to fill its ranks began immediately. Before long Jones found himself a senior NCO in the division leading the repair and maintenance section of the 84th Signal Company attached to the division. For the next two years, he worked with the division alongside command and field units to train and prepare in combat usage of communications, building a crack team of mechanics and gear heads from other young men with similar backgrounds in the telephone industry.
On 20 September 1944, the division shipped overseas. With the allied invasion of Europe well underway, the 84th was sent in to support the ever-growing land forces on fortress Europe. Traveling through much of the wreckage left behind by the ever-advancing army, Jones and the 84th finally began combat operations with an attack on Geilenkirchen, Germany on 18 November. When the division arrived in France, each of its subunits was given the latest equipment to prepare it for combat. For the signal company, that meant higher-performing maintenance gear. The company was given 2-3 M30 Repair trucks outfitted for radio repair. Jones was assigned to command one of these vehicles and a platoon of men to equip it. Never in the actual action themselves, the platoon was never far from it. Working on equipment from backpack radios used on the frontlines to the complicated comms systems of division HQ, Jones, and his boys were sent up and down the line making sure that the 84th could maintain its combat effectiveness through meaningful communications. It wouldn’t be until the Battle of the Bulge, however, that Jones would truly see what that combat effectiveness meant.
On 21 December 1944, the 84th began its operations to stop the German push through American lines. Thrown into the fray in northern Belgium, the division found itself underequipped and undermanned for the severity of the German attack. According to Jones, they barely had any winter equipment. Most men only had a single pair of socks and many of the infantry companies had far fewer men than needed to defend the large stretches of land they were ordered to hold. On one of the coldest nights he ever remembered, somewhere around Christmas, Jones was changed forever. Sleeping around their truck bundled up in whatever cloth they could find, Jones and his platoon were roused in the middle of the night by an angry infantry captain. Supposedly, he was frustrated because he had been given a large stretch of the line to defend and he barely had enough men to cover it. Going around to find support, the captain ordered Jones and his men to grab the lids and rifles and report to the front. Jones was terrified. He had never seen combat and had hoped never to. Unfortunately, when duty calls, one has no other choice.
Jones and his platoon were shoved into several crude foxholes and trenches dug around the lines of an unknown infantry company and were told to hold out for a possible German attack. Snuggled up to his carbine in the Belgian snow, Jones spent the night wide-eyed and in prayer, watching for signs of movement in the dense winter's brush. A few hours later, all hell would break loose. Mortar and artillery fire turned the area into a crater-ladened landscape, splintering trees and destroying fortifications all around them. Before long, the Germans came. Armed with tanks, half-tracks, and snow-camouflaged infantry, the attack was relentless. Several times the Germans even got into their lines and the attack became hand-to-hand. Jones recalled three separate times when a German soldier managed to break through and jump down into his trench ready to attack. Luckily, Jones was prepared, and each time he brought up his carbine to fire at point-blank range. To put it simply, no German-made it in or out of Jones’ trench. However, to kill for the first time, especially in such quick succession and in such a personal manner, left its mark on Jones. He never forgot the faces of each man he killed that day and suffered from PTSD the rest of his days, often waking up screaming in the night fearing he had returned to the snowy hellscape of Belgium.
By February the line had been restored and the boys of the signal company could return to their regular duties, likely a welcome change from the brutish combat they experienced for the month or so prior. It was around this time that the American push really gained speed and Jones’ truck was put to the test to supply and maintain the division throughout the final campaigns of the war. At its conclusion, Jones and the signal company were ecstatic. Their months of running to and fro were now at an end and the comfort of occupation could begin. Jones and the rest of the division were sent to Mannheim/Weinheim for occupation, two cities that couldn’t contrast more despite being only a few miles apart. Mannheim, the site of many industrial facilities, had been bombed into oblivion by the allied air forces while Weinheim remained practically untouched. Jones recalled the marked contrast and recognized the true power of the planes he had seen flying high overhead for so many months before. He recalled the time in the cities fondly, chasing German girls and Lugers to bring home. While he could never find himself a Luger, he did find plenty of time to take some wonderful photos of his men, the area, and occupational life. He did get a nice souvenir, finding an abandoned town hall with a pristine Nazi banner hanging on the wall which he cut down and saved away as a reminder of the struggle he and his men had experienced, knowing that the banner and the regime it represented would never fly again.
In early 1946 Jones received a commission and transferred to the 302nd Signal Battalion which was still working with the 84th in the area. He only served with them a few months, however, before he was told to pack his bags and head home. Returning back to the states in late 1946 a brand new 1st Lieutenant, Jones found himself welcomed back with open arms to the California telephone industry as a director, working the rest of his life coordinating efforts in his state with other phone companies around the country. After the war he met his wife, Leverne, and traveled around a bit in their later years, settling in Oregon before he passed of cancer in 1989.