FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 11, 2022) -- If there is military training happening anywhere on the Fort Drum ranges, the Range Operation Center staff knows all about it.
So, it’s only fitting that the facility is named after 10th Mountain Division’s first commanding general, who oversaw the specialized training of the newly formed mountaineer unit and prepared the Soldiers for combat during World War II.
Maj. Gen. Lloyd E. Jones was born June 17, 1889, in Columbia, Missouri, to John and Clara Jones. His father was an educator and president of the University of Missouri-Columbia, where Jones attended.
Jones left college during his junior year and commissioned as a lieutenant in Company G, 4th Regiment of the Missouri National Guard. He placed fifth of the 225 applicants who took the commission exam, selecting field artillery as his branch.
In December 1911, Jones joined the 6th Field Artillery Regiment, and he completed the officer basic course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1912, he served with the 5th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until he was assigned to the 2nd Field Artillery in the Philippines in 1915.
Jones later served on the general staff at the War Department, and he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1918. He commanded the 5th Field Artillery Brigade, 5th Division, and then became senior instructor for the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade at the Artillery Replacement Training Center, Camp Jackson, South Carolina.
In July 1919, Jones graduated from the Army Center of Artillery Studies in France. Upon returning to the U.S., Jones served as a professor of military science and tactics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he also led the competitive pistol team. He married Elizabeth Rembert, and they had three children together. Both of his sons would serve in the Army.
In 1922, Jones published “Field Artillery Applied Mathematics,” a manual on field artillery techniques and procedures, and served as commander of the 1st Battalion, 83rd Field Artillery Regiment. In 1924, he graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College, and then from the Army War College in 1930.
Jones was transferred to the War Department, where he served in the plans, operations and training directorate from 1930 to 1934. He returned to teaching in 1935, joining the faculty of the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill. Then he spent a year at the University of Montana as professor of military science and tactics.
Promoted to colonel in 1940, Jones was assigned as chief of staff for First Army Corps, and then he commanded the 76th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Warren, Wyoming, during the early part of World War II.
Jones was promoted to brigadier general, and he commanded an artillery brigade before serving as commander of an Alaska Defense Command task force in defense of Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands campaign. Jones was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Later, he took command of the 10th Light Division (Alpine), which was activated July 15, 1943, at Camp Hale, Colorado. Promoted to major general, Jones led the division through its initial organization, training, and preparation for deployment. He had no skiing or mountaineering experience, but he knew all about combat operations in harsh weather conditions while deployed in the Aleutian Islands.
At the time, no doctrine existed for how to create an alpine unit in the Army, and there was no standardization to develop and assess training. The Mountain Training Center and 10th Mountain Division staff at Camp Hale was central for the experimentation and innovation needed to meet the demanding requirements for winter warfare training. The Mountain Training Group, composed of experienced instructors, trained Soldiers in mountaineering, skiing and winter survival techniques.
Plagued by chronic bronchitis, Jones oversaw the D-Series maneuvers from afar. That, and the unforgiving conditions that pushed the Soldiers to their breaking point, reportedly contributed to low morale among the ranks. While he praised the men who survived the brutal three-week training exercise, he found it unacceptable that so many of the Soldiers succumbed to fatigue and illness.
In “The Last Ridge” by McKay Jenkins, the author wrote that, with no fatalities, 195 cases of frostbite, 340 injuries and nearly 1,400 cases of sickness, the 10th Mountain Division suffered five times as many casualties preparing for combat as any other U.S. division in World War II.
Jones wrote to Minnie Dole, president of the National Ski Patrol, about the D-Series. Dole was instrumental in convincing the War Department that a mountain division would be a much-needed asset for the war in Europe.
The commanding general’s assessment of the D-Series boiled down to the following: “We learned many lessons on clothing and equipment. Altogether the training was the most valuable we have had.”
However, the success that the 10th Mountain Division would have in the Italian campaign was due, in part, to the validation of a division-sized mountain unit over two years of arduous training and adaptation to the tactics, equipment and unit reorganization.
Jones’ bronchial condition, which he first contracted in Alaska, never improved, and the poor air quality at Camp Hale – frequently resulting in the infamous Pando Hack among troops – didn’t help either. Although he left Colorado with the 10th Mountain for training at Camp Swift, Texas, Jones was informed by doctors that he was medically unfit to lead his unit overseas.
He was succeeded in command by Maj. Gen. George P. Hays on Nov. 23, 1944, at Camp Swift. Jones continued to serve at the Army War College and Army Ground Forces Headquarters until his retirement in 1946.
Jones, 68, died Jan. 3, 1958, at Veterans Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, after a long illness. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Range Branch facility on Fort Drum was renamed the Maj. Gen. Lloyd E. Jones Range Operations Center on March 13, 2015. Located in Bldg. 4855 on Jones Street, Range Branch personnel operate more than 45 live-fire ranges, including indoor small-arms ranges and 18 major training areas. They support more than 18,500 active-duty Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), in field training exercises on post, such as Mountain Peak, as well as annual training for Department of Defense, Army Reserve and Army National Guard personnel.
(Editor’s note: This is the 14th installment of the Around and About Fort Drum series, highlighting the history of the people and places memorialized in buildings, monuments, and roadways throughout Fort Drum. An archive of the Around and About Fort Drum is available at home.army.mil/drum/index.php/about/around-and-about-fort-drum.)