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Cornelius News

North Meck Marine lands burning C-130, top honors nationwide

Maj. Cory Jones / family photo

Aug. 17. The son of a Cornelius couple was recently recognized by Military Times as Marine of the Year in a ceremony in Washington, DC.

After a mid-air collision with a fighter jet set his engines on fire, Maj. Cory Jones faced a desperate situation—how to crash land a burning C-130.

Jones is the son of Rhonda and Dean Jones who live on Westmoreland in Cornelius. The retired couple is justifiably proud of their son.

Midair mishap

The recognition is the result of a midair mishap in which Cory’s piloting skills landed a badly damaged plane in a field—and his entire crew of seven walked away.

It all happened on a routine refueling mission two years ago, when an F-35B collided with the huge tanker.

“I did not expect to be able to fly the aircraft away from this situation because there haven’t been any successful midair collision with a C-130, that I know of, in which the crew survives,” Jones said in a video released by the 2nd Marine Air Wing.

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross in February. The pilot of the F-35B was able to eject safely.

Parents in Cornelius

Jones, who is based at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock, is married to Lori and they have two small children. Lori is a flight nurse in the Air Force Reserves.

He has a brother, Jeremy, who is a Charlotte firefighter. He is married to Amanda and they live in Cornelius. They have two teenagers.

Parents Rhonda and Dean, who are both North Meck natives, moved to Cornelius in 1997 and have been here ever since.

Dean recently retired from Duke Energy after more than 33 years; Rhonda retired from Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph (now Atrium) several years ago.

Trip to our nation’s capital

They traveled to Washington, DC in July for the Service Members of the Year awards.

Activities throughout the week included private meetings with US Sen. Richard Burr and US Sen. Thom Tillis and a tour of the White House, where they were greeted by First Lady Jill Biden.

At a Washington Nationals game, they were introduced on the field prior to the game.

The awards ceremony itself was held July 12.

“It was a very proud moment for all of us,” Rhonda said.

To view an amazing video, click here.

In February, Maj. Cory Jones, who graduated from North Mecklenburg High before graduating from East Carolina University, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal, the nation’s fourth-highest award for bravery.