The last time the former Navy pilot had seen the plane was when the engine malfunctioned while he was at the controls during a 1957 training flight over San Diego. He safely ejected.
"Frankly, it's very emotional because all pilots love their airplanes," Jones said upon arriving to see the plane wreck for the first time, according to a Marine Corps Air Station Miramar story commemorating the Feb. 5 reunion.
Due to some fortuitous brush clearing fires and detective work by many, Jones was able to visit the downed plane at an Escondido, California, ranch, accompanied by his wife, son, Marines and Navy fliers.
It began a few years ago, when cowhands at Rancho Guejito discovered the wreckage in an area that had recently experienced some fires. The ranch got in touch with MCAS Miramar, which sent an investigative team and experts from the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego, according to the release.
They traced the plane's serial number to Jones, who had flown with Attack Squadron 146, the "Blue Diamonds," then based at Naval Air Station Miramar.
After the service, Jones flew for 31 years with United Airlines. He said he was gladdened to see the lonely patch where his FJ-4B Fury had crashed nearly six decades before.
"The main concern you have when you eject like that is you don't know where it's going to [crash]; you just don't want it harming anyone on the ground," Jones said, according to the Feb. 17 release. "Once they found the plane I didn't have to be concerned with that anymore."
Jones took a small piece of the wreckage as a reminder and thanked the ranch for helping him visit the site.
Jones was joined at the crash site by pilots from what is now Strike Fighter Squadron 146, a Lemoore, California-based F/A-18C squadron, as well as experts and Marines who helped set up the reunion. He also spoke to Marine and Navy pilots at MCAS Miramar.
"It's good to give perspective on where we are now and some of the early work that some of these really brave men and women did," said Lt. Col. Thomas Frederick, the executive officer of MCAS Miramar, who helped set up the reunion.