Col. James Braby Jones, 76, of Temple Hills, a retired Air Force meteorologist who was a pioneer in the Tiros weather satellite program, died May 26 of lymphoma in Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base. He also had Hodgkin's disease.
Col. Jones was a seasoned aviation weather forecaster when the U.S. Tiros program was started in the late 1950s. A veteran of the Strategic Air Command in Omaha and having received a master's degree in meteorology from the University of Washington, Col. Jones was assigned to Barksdale Air Force base at Shreveport, La., in 1959 to work on the first satellite-generated weather map. It was the happiest period of his career, according to Butch Jones, his wife of 53 years.
Born in Lamoni, Iowa, Col. Jones was in junior college in Creston, Iowa, in 1941, when, just before Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army. After basic training, he was sent first to the University of Wisconsin for a course in meteorology, completion of which meant his immediate transfer to what was then the Army Air Forces, and in the fall of 1943 he began cadet training. He graduated in 1944 and was commissioned a second lieutenant and sent as a weather forecaster to Wichita Falls, Tex., and the installation that was to become Sheppard Air Force Base.
There he met (and in 1946 married) Alma Bauch, in the choir in which both sang, she soprano and he baritone, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Wichita Falls, her home. "I'll call you Butch," he said, an improvisation of her surname that has held to this day. He courted her in person and via the small 78 rpm records, the size of modern CDs, featured in arcade recording booths of the day. He sang show tunes into the microphone for her, and pastoral music, and, her favorite, which she still has, the Lord's Prayer.
Col. Jones then served from 1946 to 1950 in Germany, and then in Omaha, with SAC, and at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., and then in Japan until 1957, when he was assigned first to the Tiros Work Group at Suitland, and then to Shreveport for the Tiros mapping. He retired as a colonel in 1968.
He was hired almost immediately in the same capacity as a civilian, retiring again in 1972 only to join the National Weather Service immediately, leaving there in 1987 and beginning a decade-long career of volunteer work at the Andrews Air Force Base hospital's Family Practice Unit of the 89th Medical Group, working long hours assisting families of those serving in Operation Desert Storm.
Col. Jones was a member of the Air Weather Association, the Meteorological Society, the Retired Officers Association and the National Environmental Satellite Service. He attended Oxon Hill Lutheran Church and Protestant Chapel at Andrews, although, according to Butch Jones, the couple's primary religious allegiance remained with the church where they met in Wichita Falls.
Besides Mrs. Jones, Col. Jones is survived by a brother, John R. Jones of Des Moines.