US Army Quartermaster Corps


The Quartermaster Hall of Fame award is the highest form of recognition the Corps offers. This much coveted award honors individuals who are judged to have made the most significant contributions to the overall history and traditions of the Quartermaster Corps.

WO1 Johnnie A. Jones, Sr.
Class of 2023

Mr. Johnnie A. Jones Sr., was a Louisiana civil rights attorney and World War II veteran who died on 23 April 2022 at the age of 102 years old. Mr. Jones was born in Laurel Hill, Louisiana and raised on Rosedown Plantation by his parents, who farmed 73 acres of land.

He attended a two-room schoolhouse and became interested in the law when a teacher gave him a book by Charles Evans Hughes, then the 11th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. “While we were out in the fields picking cotton, I would be thinking about what I read in that book,” Mr. Jones told the Advocate of Baton Rouge. “I couldn’t stand the sight of people picking cotton. … Everything it represented.” Mr. Jones enrolled at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, planning to major in industrial education. Before he could graduate, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1942; he would go on to become one of the Army’s first African American Warrant Officers.

During the June 6, 1944 invasion, his boat hit a mine and the explosion blasted him onto the upper deck. He saw 25 fellow Soldiers lose their life before reaching the shore. As they came ashore onto Omaha Beach, they came under heavy fire from German machine gun positions and snipers; he returned fire, a memory that haunted him all his life. “I remember it all,” Mr. Jones recalled, “sometimes reminiscing is a terrible thing.… I lay down at night, and as soon as I close my eyes, I relive the whole D-Day invasion.”

Mr. Jones continued to serve fighting in the Northern France campaign on the western front at the Battle of the Bulge. He was among more than 2,000 African-Americans troops that participated in the Normandy Invasion and subsequent campaigns. By the end of World War II, more than a million African Americans were in uniform including the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the 761st Tank Battalion.

Upon his return to the United States, he resumed his studies and changed his major to psychology, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in 1949 and in 1953 he received his Law degree from Southern University.  Mr. Jones served briefly in the Louisiana House of Representatives in the 1970s. When Mr. Jones returned home to Louisiana, he was greeted not with a hero’s welcome, but rather with all the indignities of segregation in the Jim Crow South.

Mr. Jones enrolled in law school and became a lawyer in the early years of the civil rights movement.  He was recruited in 1953 to help organize a bus boycott in Baton Rouge and defend the participants. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King used that event to plan his larger bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, several years later. Mr. Jones also defended students arrested during sit-ins as civil rights protests gained momentum in the South resulting in his car was bombed twice. The boycott ended with the partial desegregation of city buses, with the front two rows of seats reserved for White people and the last two rows for Black people. While some protesters had hoped for a more dramatic outcome, historians today describe the Baton Rouge boycott as a prototype of others to come.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. consulted with organizers in Baton Rouge before organizing the Montgomery boycott, which lasted 382 days and ended with a Supreme Court ruling desegregating the Montgomery transit system. Mr. Jones was credited with fighting legal battles on multiple fronts of the movement for racial equality. “Almost unnoticed at the time,” the Baton Rouge protest “was a direct precursor of the Montgomery bus boycott,” Fairclough wrote, “and an event of major significance in the evolution of the civil rights movement.” He worked with voter leagues and with civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality. He assisted demonstrators who participated in lunch-counter sit-ins. 

Mr. Jones continued practicing law well into his 90s.  During his service in World War II, Mr. Jones sustained shrapnel wounds that he would bear for the rest of his life. “The doctor told me it would really hurt in 75 years, but I wouldn’t have to worry about that,” he said. “I fooled him. It hurts, and I’m still picking it out of my head and arm.  He waited for his service to be recognized with a Purple Heart, receiving the Award some 77-years later. The long delay was symbolic of what he saw as the slow move toward justice in the civil rights movement. “It’s going to take a while,” Mr. Jones said. “You just need to be willing to take a stand.”