Mrs. F. Harley Jones, now residing in Douglas, who lost her husband and 15-year-old son, Billy, in December, 1943, when the fishing tug Gotham foundered near the Saugatuck breakwater with the loss of five men, received word at 5:30 p.m. on Memorial Day that her eldest son, Pfc. Harold Leon, 21, of the 6th Marine Division, had been killed [May 20, 1945] on Okinawa. No date was listed in the wire, but his last letter dated May 7 was received by his mother May 15.
Pfc. Jones had been unable to come home on furlough since his enlistment with the Marines Sept. 7, 1942. With his last letter he sent home a can opener which had served him faithfully all through the campaigns in the Southwest Pacific. He had expected to come home this summer.
He trained at San Diego, Cal., and then joined the Marine Raiders at Camp Pendleton, Cal., going overseas in February, 1943, to the New Hebrides. He engaged in his first battle with the Raiders on Marine Harbor on New Georgia and then joined in the assault on Emirau Island. From there he went to Saipan and then to Guam. After the Guam campaign he was sent to a rest camp and landed on Okinawa on Easter Sunday.
A brother, Marine Pfc. Hugh, is now on Midway and another brother, Seaman 1-c Harmon, is a Seabee on the Philippines. Hugh, who entered the Navy just a month before his father and brother were drowned, came home at the time of the tragedy. Harmon came home on leave the following February. It was then that his mother, who had collapsed shortly after Hugh entered service, was able to leave her bed. There are three other children in the family, Joy Ruth, Larry Paul and Beverly Loretta.
Harold was born Aug. 4, 1923, at Villa Grove, Ill., and came to this section when he was 12-years-old. He attended Douglas School and Saugatuck High School. He was well known as a musician, singing in the Douglas Church choir and as an accompanist. He had written a song, “I Met You in a Dream Last Night” more than two years ago and planned to take steps for its publication when he was to come home this summer.
Hi father enlisted with the Marines at the age of 17 just one month before World War I ended. His body was recovered from Lake Michigan Mar. 27 and Billy’s body was recovered July 11, 1944, from the tug.