Sports heroes who served: Golfer landed in Normandy during World War II

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Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones Jr. takes to the links in 1921. (Courtesy photograph)
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Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones Jr. is said to have been the most successful amateur golfer ever to have competed at the national and international levels. The reason he competed as an amateur is because he worked full time as an attorney in Atlanta, Ga.

He won the U.S. Open in 1923, 1926, 1929 and 1930; the Open Championship in 1926, 1927 and 1930; the U.S. Amateur in 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1930; and the British Amateur in 1930.

After retiring from competitive golf, he founded the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., in 1933; in 1934, he co-founded the Masters Tournament.

In May 1942, Jones volunteered and was accepted for military service in the Army officer corps, although at 40 years old he was considered borderline too old. In June 1942, he was assigned to the First Fighter Command at Mitchel Field on Long Island, N.Y.

Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones Jr. is served chow during World War II. (Courtesy photograph)

By March 1943, he was promoted to major, and later that year, he was assigned as a military intelligence officer for the 84th Fighter Wing of the Ninth Air Force; he then deployed in England.

Just a day after the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings on the Normandy coast in France, Jones went ashore.

His unit eventually was assigned to the infantry, and he spent two months interrogating German prisoners of war before being discharged in August 1944 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones Jr. poses for a photograph in his Army uniform during World War II. (Courtesy photograph)

During the war, Jones had the honor of dining with Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. In 1948, Eisenhower, an avid golfer, would become a member of Augusta National.

In August 1944, Jones, then a lieutenant colonel, was granted an honorable discharge from the Army.

In 1971, Jones died at age 69. In 1974, he was posthumously inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

In 1981, the U.S. Postal Service issued an 18-cent stamp commemorating Jones.

Editor’s note: Sports Heroes Who Served is a series that highlights the accomplishments of athletes who served in the U.S. military.
 
 

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