MANCHESTER — Robert C. Jones of Meredith last week became the 32nd recipient of the Maurice L. McQuillen Award for his outstanding work in service to fellow New Hampshire veterans, especially his efforts to help military men and women who are prisoners of war or missing in action.
"I'm honored to be with those who received this award in the past," Jones, 67, said Nov. 20.
"I can name others more deserving than I. But I accept this for the issue I am involved in, which is the POW/MIA issue," he explained.
Jones was a U.S. Navy corpsman from 1964-1968 and served as medical personnel for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War from 1966-1967.
While tending to wounded Marines in Vietnam, Jones came under fire on battlefields and twice was wounded. He was awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor for his heroic actions, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, wrote in nominating Jones for the award.
Jones has served the POW/MIA cause for the last 40 years. His achievements include initiating legislation to name the bridge into Meredith the POW/MIA Freedom Ride Bridge and establishing weekly Thursday night POW/MIA vigils at Hesky Park in Meredith to recognize these service men and women and raise public awareness to their plight.
He also established the Vet-Link program at Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia and continues to volunteer there. The program assists veterans and their families in accessing services.
His efforts have earned him recognition from the New Hampshire Senate and Gov. Maggie Hassan.
There is no other issue deserving of recognition than the POW/MIA issue," Jones explained. "When one American is not worth the effort, then we Americans have lost."
Jones is vice-president of New England POW/MIA Network and director of its New Hampshire division.
The group currently is focusing its efforts on U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Haley, Idaho, who has been held as a prisoner of war since his capture in June 2009 by members of the Haqqani terrorist network in east Afghanistan, he said.
"We know he is alive," Jones said, citing letters and videos.
The award is named after Maurice L. McQuillen , who was the first editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader Veterans Page and a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. It has been given out annually since McQuillen's death in 1981.
McQuillen's son, Scott, presented the award to Jones at the New Hampshire Union Leader.
"We're very proud of those carrying on the work that was very dear to my father's heart," Scott McQuillen said. McQuillen heads the committee that presents the award.