Colonel Murphy Neal Jones passed away on Thursday, January 31, 2019 surrounded by his loving family. Neal was 81 years old and a resident of Magnolia, Delaware. He was born in Baton Rouge, LA and graduated from Baton Rouge High School. He went on to attend Tulane University on a football scholarship and was first string varsity center and linebacker for three years. He was a member of the Air Force ROTC program and graduated in 1960. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Neal is survived by his beloved wife of more than 60 years, Glenda Blythe Jones also from Baton Rouge. They were blessed with two children, Murphy Neal Jones, Jr. who preceded him in death, and Darla Jones Murphy. Darla is married to Jim Murphy of Wilmington, DE.
Neal is also the grandfather of three granddaughters: Lauren Murphy Gleason, married to Mark Gleason of Hoboken, NJ, Ashley Murphy and Kennedy Murphy. He also has one grandson, Neal Cameron Jones, married to Dr. Karen Lee, and a great granddaughter, Rowan James Gleason. His parents were Louie A. Jones and Lulu Jones, both deceased. He has a brother, James Al Jones and a sister, Ann Jones (deceased), both from Baton Rouge.
Colonel Jones served in the Air Force for twenty-one and a half years. He received his pilot wings in 1961 and flew the F-100, F-105 and the A-7D during his career. On his third combat tour in Vietnam, he was shot down and captured on the outskirts of Hanoi on June 29, 1966 during the first bombing raid on that city. He was wounded by shrapnel in both legs when his F-105 was hit. Neal received a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and six fractured vertebra when he ejected at approximately 300 feet at over 620 miles per hour. He was severely tortured for several days. The Vietnamese refused to repair his broken arm for four and a half years. Neal was finally released on February 12, 1973 after being held as a prisoner of war for 2,421 days.
Neal attributed his survival in Vietnam to a deep faith in God, faith in America, faith in his wife and family, and faith in his fellow prisoners. These “faiths” helped to build a tremendous faith in himself.
Neal returned to the cockpit after his release and served as Commander of the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron and as Chief of the War and Mobilization Planning Division, Headquarters United States Air Force. After retirement from the Air Force, he was a businessman in Washington, D.C. for eight years. He returned to his beloved Tulane University in 1990 and served as Director of Development for Athletics until his retirement in 2000. Neal is a member of Tulane’s Athletic Hall of Fame as well as Baton Rouge High School’s Hall of Fame.
His military decorations include: the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit (2), the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Air Medal (2), the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Prisoner of War Medal.
He loved to fly, hunt, play golf and fish. He gave numerous motivational speeches throughout the country. Neal was a member of several organizations: Freemasons, Sojourners, Quiet Birdmen, Order of Daedalians, Military Order of Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Military Order of Foreign Wars, Air Force Association, American ExPOWS, NAMPOWS, Red River Fighter Pilots Association (River Rats), Super Sabre Society, and Toastmasters International.
Visitors are invited to a viewing on Friday, February 8th from 4:30 PM to 8:00 PM at Chandler Funeral Home, 2506 Concord Pike in Wilmington, DE. A service will be held at Mt. Salem Methodist Church in Rockford Park, 2629 W. 19th Street, Wilmington on Saturday, February 9th at 11:00 AM. The burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. with full military honors at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made in Neal’s honor to one of his favorite charities listed below:
Tulane University, Athletics Department, by calling Tyler Kai, Director of Annual Giving, or through greenwaveclub.com/donate or mail gifts to Green Wave Club, 333 Ben Weiner Drive, Attention: Green Wave Club, New Orleans, LA 70118; Wounded War Heroes, 2152 Highway 1, Raceland, LA, 70394; Ride of the Brotherhood, PO Box 1078, Lacombe, LA , 70445.