Nation

David C. Jones dies at 92; chairman of Joint Chiefs

David C. Jones, a retired Air Force general who helped set in motion a far-reaching reorganization of the U.S. military command while serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Saturday at a military retirement community in Potomac Falls, Va. He was 92 and had Parkinson's disease, his family said.

Jones served first as the Air Force chief of staff on the Joint Chiefs, and then as chairman from 1978 to 1982.

Near the end of his second two-year term, Jones recommended a sweeping reorganization of the nation's military command, moving to strengthen the chairman's role while curbing rivalry among the services. Many of his suggestions were included in the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, which streamlined the military chain of command.

Under Jones' watch, the Carter administration also undertook a failed attempt to rescue 53 American hostages being held in Iran in 1980. Eight U.S. servicemen died when a helicopter crashed into a C-130 transport plane during a sandstorm at a staging area in Iran.

David Charles Jones was born July 9, 1921, in Aberdeen, S.D. He dropped out of college during World War II to enlist in the Army Air Forces, received his commission and pilot wings in February 1943, then trained pilots at air bases in the U.S.

During the Korean War, he flew more than 300 B-29 bomber missions over North Korea and also flew aerial tankers for midair refueling. After the war, he served as a top aide to Gen. Curtis LeMay, who had been an architect of U.S. air attacks during World War II and then the commander of the Strategic Air Command.

In 1960, Jones graduated from the National War College. He served in Vietnam as deputy commander for operations and then as vice commander of the Seventh Air Force. He later commanded U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

President Nixon tapped Jones to be Air Force chief of staff in 1974. He led a reorganization of the command structure.

President Carter appointed Jones as Joint Chiefs chairman in 1978 and again in 1980. Jones accompanied Carter to Vienna for the SALT II talks with the Soviet Union in 1979, and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan helped transform a rapid deployment force for southwest Asia that Carter established into a regional unified command.

He completed his second term as Joint Chiefs chairman during the Reagan administration, and retired from in 1982.

Jones' wife of 67 years, Lois, died in 2009. He is survived by two daughters, a son, a sister, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

news.obits@latimes.com

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