If you're going to honor veterans Tuesday, take a moment to remember Sgt. John R. Jones.
Workers engraved Jones' name on the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort last week, just in time for Veterans Day. He is the 1,104th — and latest — Kentucky veteran to be so honored.
Jerry Cecil, a member of the memorial's board of directors, said he would be at the monument Tuesday to point out Jones' name to Veterans Day visitors and tell them about the Kentucky soldier who was among the lost for four decades.
Sadly, many details about Jones remain unknown.
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An Army Special Services member, Jones died in June 1971 defending a radio-relay base near Khe Sanh in South Vietnam's Quang Tri Province. He was 22.
More than 40 years passed before military experts managed to identify Jones' remains.
He was born and grew up in Louisville, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
But Lisa Aug, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, said federal officials haven't been able to locate or identify any members of Jones' family, and no one has come forward.
So for now, no one knows what Jones was like, where he went to school, what sports he followed or what he wanted to do with his life.
"Really all we have is the information" from the Department of Defense, Aug said.
There is a photograph online that purports to be of Jones, but Aug said veterans affairs officials couldn't confirm that the soldier was Jones. She said the man in the photo supposedly was from El Paso, Texas, but she also said Jones might have changed his hometown listing from Louisville to El Paso after entering the Army.
Cecil, a retired Army colonel, said he remains hopeful that someone will come forward or that information will surface so Jones' full story can become known.
According to information available online, Jones was stationed at Hickory Hill, a radio-relay base, when it was overrun by North Vietnamese forces in June 1971. A survivor later reported that Jones was wounded when a grenade was thrown into a bunker where he had taken cover and that he was then shot in the chest when he went outside.
According to the Department of Defense, investigators from the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, called JPAC, found remains in 2011 in a bunker thought to be Jones' last known location.
Details are vague, but Aug said DNA or other information uncovered at the bunker in 2011 might have enabled investigators from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory to identify Jones' remains in 2012.
Cecil said the best guess is that Jones was captured by North Vietnamese troops after being critically wounded in the Hickory Hill fight and died while being moved to a prison camp.
Jones' remains were buried at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013.
Cecil said Kentucky veterans officials were surprised when they were told that Jones had been identified.
"Little did we know that there was another MIA out there that belonged to Kentucky," he said. "That was the first time we even knew that he existed."
Jones' name now appears in two places on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: He is listed among Kentuckians missing in action or prisoners of war in Vietnam. His name also appears on the memorial's sundial, situated so the shadow of the central gnomon falls directly on his name on the anniversary of his death.
"What we wanted to do is reunite Sgt. Jones with his comrades in the same spot where we memorialize them all," Cecil said. "And we've done that."
Cecil said, however, that he hoped the full story of Jones' life would be known eventually.
"We've been putting the word out among veterans groups, hoping that someone in Jefferson County will come forward so that we can link up with his family," Cecil said.
"My personal instinct is that we'll get some response, maybe not from a direct family member, but maybe from collateral family," he said. "I just feel that there is a high school yearbook out there somewhere, ... or there is someone in a community somewhere that will see this and remember him."