In the fall of 1957, Robert "Buddy" Jones Sr., a paratrooper with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division, boarded an airplane with his fellow soldiers to an unknown destination.
"It was 'round about the time everybody was doing the school integrations of Arkansas," Jones' wife, Sammie, recalled.
While their plane was en route, the paratroopers were told to open their destination papers. Buddy Jones, a Biloxi native, learned he was headed to Little Rock, Ark.
On Sept. 24 that year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st to enforce integration at Little Rock Central High School and provide armed escorts for the nine black students enrolled at the school.
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"They had their rifles with their bayonets and opened up the school to allow those nine children to attend," Sammie Jones said.
The soldiers had secured a perimeter around the entire school, patrolled the nearby streets to break up anti-integrationist mobs and even patrolled the halls of the school while classes were in session.
Buddy Jones was posted directly in front of the school, where one day a photographer with Time Magazine took a photo of him. It was a close-up shot, showing the young Jones standing guard as other soldiers in the background stood on the school steps and near the front doors.
The photo was printed on the cover of Time Magazine on Oct. 7, 1957.
"Those were his five seconds of fame," his wife said. "He just happened to be at the front of the line. He was very photogenic at that time, being a young man and all."
After his service in the Army, Buddy Jones returned to the Coast and married Sammie. He worked as a salesman and lived a family man's life until he died Thursday. He was 75.
The couple had two sons, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
"He was a great family man," his wife said. "He loved his family. That was the thing he lived for."
Funeral services were held Saturday at the Ocean Springs Chapel of Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home. Interment will be 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery.