Jones honored with Bronze Star

Jones honored with Bronze Star

ARLINGTON -- Before Thursday's game with the Angels, bench coach Bobby Jones was formally awarded his Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

Jones, who is in his 40th season as a player, Minor League manager and coach in the Rangers organization, is a U.S. Army veteran who served 14 months in Vietnam, from December 1969 to February 1971.

"It's pretty special," Jones said. "I didn't expect any of this, but it's pretty cool that they're doing it."

Then-Corporal Jones was section chief in a 105 millimeter howitzer battery, providing fire support for the infantry. During his tour of duty, Jones suffered significant loss of hearing in his right ear. Over his 14 months at Fire Base Siberia, in a remote section of Vietnam, Jones said, there were no more than eight days in which they did not see combat action.

"We were under attack, and things had happened," Jones said. "I was in charge of a gun pit with six or seven guys under me -- saw a lot of action."

Upon his return from Vietnam, Jones was handed the Bronze Star in a casual manner. He never had the medal officially presented to him from a senior military officer in a ceremony, as is customary, and did not receive the official citation that goes with it.

"I wasn't presented the medal," he said. "The commanding officer pins it on your chest. Well, I never got any of that. I actually got the medal, but it wasn't presented to me. Not sure why it wasn't presented. I got out and came back in February and was discharged. My first wife had [the medal], and then we got divorced and I never saw it. About four or five years ago, my daughter found [the medal], brought it home and gave it to me."

On Thursday, Jones was officially presented the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement while engaged in conflict with an opposing foreign force. Col. R.J. Muraski, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division, headquartered in Dallas, presented the medal along with the accompanying citation.

"I think it's awesome. Incredible," interim manager Tim Bogar said. "People need to see what Bobby's done for this country and the service that he gave. Bobby and I sat today, and he reminisced about his story when he was over there, and it just makes you realize how fortunate we are that we have people to go over and do the things they do so we can live the lives we do."

The ceremony was part of the Rangers' pregame Sept. 11 ceremonies. The Sheppard Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the colors. and United States Airmen, joined by members of the Arlington Fire and Police Departments, unfurled a large American flag in the outfield. The 531st United States Air Force Quintet performed the national anthem, which was preceded by a moment of silence.

The reception Jones gets now as a veteran is a little different from when he returned from Vietnam in 1971.

"It's cool now, you get on the airplane and everyone claps," he said. "Back then you come back and everyone's spitting and cussing at us; [you're] ashamed to wear your uniform, basically. This honor is awesome. I really appreciate what everyone is doing.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.