People see William Jones around town, climbing up telephone poles with a ladder that his mom purchased at a yard sale years ago.
His semi-annual pilgrimage through the town has one of two purposes: in the spring, Jones places the American Flags in their mounts on the poles. In the fall, he removes them for the wintertime.
Jones, who served in the United States Navy and Army National Guard from his high school years until 1992, said that he did not see his duties as a job.
“It is an honor and a privilege for me to do this, not a responsibility,” said Jones, who has been taking down and replacing the flags in Whitehall annually for the last 12 years.
“My most important hobby has been raising the flags all over Whitehall for the past dozen years,” he said. “I started doing it because of my military training and because I cared about the town. The fire company was going around to put up and take down the flags, and I decided that it was time for someone to take it up instead of having the fire company take up their time and energy and have them ready in case of an emergency.”
Jones said that he not only takes care of the flags for the town, but for those who served and fought under her banner.
“I feel that it is something that has got to be done to support our veterans,” said Jones. “I put a display of flags up at my own home every year and I have also been serving at military funerals throughout the area and I also enjoy to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the opening of events.”
Jones said that his respect for the American Flag started at an early age.
“I was in the Boy Scouts as a youth,” said Jones. “They taught you how to march and how to show respect for the flag. That’s where I started learning respect for it and for those who served.”
As Jones learned respect, he also decided to become one of the members of the military, joining the Army National Guard in Whitehall while he was still in high school.
“I was an assistant tank driver for Company A of the National Guard here in town,” said Jones. “I graduated in June of 1955 and in October, I joined the United States Navy.”
Jones went to Basic training in Bainbridge, Maryland and then was stationed near Washington, D.C. before flying to Naples, Italy to be assigned to the USS Salem.
“It was the flagship of the Sixth Fleet,” said Jones. “I was there during the Suez crisis and we traveled all over with the ship.”
Jones also served on a Naval Supply Ship, the USS Cadmen, stationed out of Norfolk, Va. Before leaving the Navy in 1959 and enlisting in the Naval Reserve.
“I was there for two years,” said Jones. “I then went back into the Navy from 1962 until 1964 and a submarine tender, where we would work at dry dock servicing the submarines.”
Jones left the Navy altogether in 1964, but then joined back with the military as a member of the Whitehall National Guard in 1988, where he served until retiring from military service in 1992 as a Staff Sergeant.
Along with military service, Jones has been a member of the Whitehall American Legion for 30 years, serving in numerous positions and helping to sing songs and tend the flags at all Legion events.
‘I love the flag and I love serving my fellow veterans,” he said