When he was 18 a chance encounter serendipitously set his course of the rest of his life. That year his mother decided to take her three sons (Clifford and his younger brothers DeWitt and Thomas (“Tommie”) Jones) on a vacation trip to Washington DC as a Christmas present. (Clifford’s father Homer worked for the Southern Railway, which passes through Norcross, so they likely traveled by rail.)
The boys’ cousin Miriam came along on the trip. While the group was in Washington Miriam’s uncle, Carter Tate, who was serving at the time as the representative from the 9 th District in Georgia in the US House of Representatives, came to call on his niece and the other visitors. While there Rep. Tate remarked that he had received word that day from the War Department (predecessor to today’s Department of Defense) that he would be able to make an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point for the following year, and, after spending time with the group, he was sufficiently impressed with young Clifford Jones that he asked if he would accept the appointment.
Jones’ acceptance, and his success in that career, set two generations of the family on a path of military service, with brother DeWitt following a few years later at West Point (where he graduated first in his class) and then brother Thomas attending to the Naval Academy; all three brothers became career military officers and had sons who also pursued military careers as well.
Clifford Jones graduated from West Point in 1903. The photo below shows Cadet Clifford Jones with his mother Mollie. It was taken in the studios of the well-known Pach Brothers photography gallery on Broadway in New York City, circa 1902.