War hero who promoted Elvis Presley to sergeant dies at 95

Talk about a full life! Col. Thomas S. Jones, war hero, scholar, officer and gentleman, died Tuesday at age 95 in Pinellas County, Fla.

While defending the Philippines from the invading Japanese in World War II, Jones' unit took part in the last mounted cavalry charge in U.S. history. He and a handful of comrades held out in the jungles for 20 months before they were captured. After 18 months in a prison camp, Jones weighed just 80 pounds, and his captors considered him to weak to be beheaded, a fate suffered by a number of his fellows.

After the war, Jones studied classics at Oxford University, moved up to colonel and later served in Vietnam as a civilian official. He married his Vietnamese teacher, with whom he spoke French, their only common language.

The most interesting man in the world? It gets better. While Jones was serving a command in Germany, he awarded a promotion to his jeep driver. The name of the enlisted man who earned his sergeant's stripes? Elvis Presley.

"I don't know how good a musician Elvis was," Mr. Jones wrote in a published letter to the St. Petersburg Times in 1977, a week after Presley died, "but as his battalion commander I can testify that he was a top-notch soldier, a credit to his parents, to his outfit, to his country."


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