BROWSVILLE, Texas — The cavalry fort at Fort Brown has had a long list of figures connected with the military. Robert E. Lee, Philip Sheridan and Ulysses S. Grant. However, one particular individual that went unnoticed and very few people even know about him was Byron Q. Jones.
Byron Q. Jones began his military career around 1908. He was attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From MIT he transferred over to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York and graduated in 1912. He is the inventor of the term “double time”.
Around this time, there were other notable military folk such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton, who were involved in World War II, in Jones’ inner circle of friends. Jones stood out at a very early age. In the early years of military aviation the U.S. did not quite know how to utilize planes for warfare, as they were accustomed to blimps. That is what brought Jones to Brownsville.
In 1915 he was assigned to a project where he wanted to do surveillance of the Mexican Revolution that was taking place on the other side of the Rio Grande River. One day he and his fellow pilot were dispatched to survey the river area. That is where he saw the entrenchments of Lucio Blanco; it was the purpose of his going up and doing surveillance. Immediately he was fired upon by machine guns from the Mexican revolutionaries and small armies. Jones immediately pushed his aircraft up to 2,500 feet in order to avoid being shot down. That day he earned his point in history being the first American war plane ever fired on by a hostile enemy force.
Jones made a number of firsts in his career. In his early years right out of West Point he achieved long-distance endurance. Also, if you can imagine a biplane making a loop, he was the first one to do that as well. If you have a plane that goes into a stall, he figured out how to get out of that and add tailspins to his aviation records.
From that point he was noticed by the top brass of the military as being a step above. His ability to engineer and actually think about the problems the airplane would have in order to correct it got him noticed. Jones was put in charge of training pilots and aircraft design. He was so valuable for that effort that the military made sure he was not put on the front lines during the first World War. His mind could figure out those things and he was need in Washington in order to teach these them.
Coming into World War II, Byron Q. Jones got on a project that America we will forever remember his name connected with: the Jeep. He designed elements in the Jeep that were used in warfare and he went on to the U.S. Patent Office. He received the patent on the Jeep that we used throughout the war and used today.
In the early years the airplane was about as fragile as the men that were flying it. Jones worked out the problems in order to strengthen the aircraft mechanically, train pilots and set up a program that the United States Army Air Corps would utilize.