14 Names to Remember Project

14 Names to Remember | Lyle S. Jones

Posted on May 23rd, 2024 By:

14 Names to Remember Project. Layout by Tonya Strickland. Historic graphics attributed.

Gig Harbor Now columnist Tonya Strickland researched and profiled the 14 local men whose names appear on the World War II monument at Kenneth Leo Marvin Memorial Park. Find all 14 profiles here.

Hometown: Gig Harbor and Pendroy, Montana

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces

Rank: Sergeant; tail gunner

Died: Dec. 11, 1943 | Age 24

Sgt. Lyle Sanford Jones was born June 13, 1919 in Gig Harbor to Elsie Lenora (Dimmick) Jones and Sanford David Jones. In the 1920 U.S. Census, he had five siblings: Horace, Lois, Doris, Marvin, and Lila Jones, his twin sister.

In the 1930s, the Jones family moved to Pendroy, Montana, but later moved back because many are buried in Pierce and Kitsap County cemeteries.

Jones served with the 100th Bomb Group, a combat unit under the Eighth Air Force known as “The Bloody Hundredth” for its high casualty rate. He joined the group’s 351st Bomb Squadron as a tail gunner — stationed at England’s Thorpe Abbotts Air Base.

Tail gunners fired machine guns from a military aircraft’s rear turret, exposing them to extreme cold at high altitudes. Such was the case for Sgt. Robert D. Abney, who was hospitalized with frostbite after his electric heating suit failed during a mission. With Abney out, Jones subbed in for him on Dec. 11, 1943. That ill-fated mission called for Abney’s 10-man crew and its B-17 Flying Fortress,“Sugarfoot,” to join a large formation and bomb enemy submarines docked at Emden, Germany.

The Emden flight was compromised by last-minute changes in the bomber formation, unexpected wind speeds and unfortunate timing. When U.S. fighter escorts didn’t arrive in time to provide cover, Sugarfoot was among the bombers that took direct hits from German fighter planes. Sugarfoot crashed off the coast of Holland. Nine crew members died, including Jones, and one was taken prisoner.

Sgt. Jones received an Air Medal and Purple Heart posthumously and his name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Holland.

Status: MIA – Missing in Action