Jones graduated from Roswell flying school in New Mexico in 1943 and the National War College in 1960. He also attended the University of Nebraska, Louisiana Tech University, Minot State Teacher's College, Boston University, and Troy University.
In 1943 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. During the Korean War, Jones commanded the 19th Bombardment Squadron, flying B-29 Superfortresss out of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Following Korea, he commanded the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron and later the 33rd Bombardment Squadron, both at March Air Force Base, CA. After squadron command, he was transferred to the Strategic Air Command (SAC), where he worked in the Bomber Mission Branch before becoming aide to CINCSAC, General Curtis LeMay. He advanced through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of general in 1971. Jones was deputy Commander of operations in Vietnam, vice commander of the 7th Air Force, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), and commander 4th Allied Tactical Air Force. From 1974 to 1978, he served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. In 1978, he was elevated to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving until his retirement from military service in 1982.
He has been decorated with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star.