Gen. Jones is the Navy's 25th 'Honorary Aviator'.
The chief of naval operations can bestow honorary "Wings of Gold" on an individual whose contributions to naval aviation are deemed of "truly extraordinary nature."
In a ceremony at the CNO's office on January 10, Adm. Vernon Clark pinned the gold wings on Gen. Jones. Also in attendance was Vice CNO and senior naval aviator Adm. William Fallon.
The practice of designating individuals as Honorary Naval Aviators began in October 1949. "This designation is not conferred lightly, and the contributions rendered to naval aviation by those so honored have been of a truly extraordinary nature," said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Matt McLaughlin.
Former recipients include Vice Adm. Hyman C. Rickover, Sen. John Warner, Adm. Arleigh Burke, Gen. James Doolittle and Bob Hope.
Jones, who is now the 14th Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, was the 32nd commandant of the Marine Corps. Upon becoming Honorary Naval Aviator No. 25, he was presented a Navy leather flight jacket, a set of Naval Aviator gold wings (donated by the Marine Corps Aviation Association) and a certificate designating him as the 25th Honorary Naval Aviator.
Clark noted, "Gen. Jones has been a tremendous supporter and advocate for both Naval and Marine Aviation and has worked hard to ensure the success of Navy and Marine Tactical Air Integration. ... His support for naval aviation has paved the way to ensure that the Navy-Marine Corps Team remains the world's most modern and powerful force in readiness."
Immediately preceding Jones on the list of Honorary Naval Aviators are Corwin H. "Corky" Meyer and Harry Gann. Corky Meyer became Honorary Naval Aviator No. 23, in 1997. He tested Grumman's first jet aircraft, the XF9F-2 Panther, in 1947, and became the first civilian pilot to qualify aboard an aircraft carrier, Lake Champlain (CVS 39), in an F9F-6 Cougar in 1954.
No. 24 was Harry Gann, who also received the award in 1997. He was a Douglas Aircraft Company mechanical designer who performed specialized air-to-alt photography--first shooting flight demonstration reams that flew Douglas aircraft, such as the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. He was designated an Honorary Marine Aviator in 1975, and an Honorary Blue Angel in 1979. His aerial photographs have appeared in numerous publications.