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Local veteran, musician reflects on service

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Memorial Day is a time for the country to remember the sacrifices made by our service members for freedom.

Around 100 people came to listen to patriotic songs and get in the spirit of Memorial Day, one day early on Sunday.

Among the crowd was a local veteran – and musician -- who shared his thoughts on Memorial Day in a unique way.

"I don't know, after a while, you feel like the airplane becomes part of you or you're part of the airplane," said retired Air Force General Bill Jones, who flew fighter jets in Vietnam.

After 37 years of service, Jones retired, and rediscovered playing music was another way to make his spirit soar.

But his songs were not just for the many names on the wall at the World War II Memorial, he also brought his talent to the stage to join the ranks of the Hanover Concert Band.

The band's music helped bring back memories of times past -- or of a loved one -- for many in the crowd.

Jones said he is grateful for the course his life has taken and thinks fondly of those service members who lost their lives.

"Friends and people that maybe we didn't know on this day. that didn't get the chance to have gray hair or play in a band," said Jones.

The patriotic music he plays reminded him of the lives lost and how fortunate he is to have made it home to play his music.

"I feel very fortunate to be where I am but I never lose sight of what they did," said Jones. 

Jones now lives in Mechanicsville, and besides being a veteran and a musician, he has been married for 43 years.  He even proposed to his wife in a letter, since he was overseas. He joked that he cannot remember if she wrote back, yes.

Additionally, the couple has four children, all of whom were born on military bases across the country.