ETOWAH CO., Ala. (WBRC) - Judy Frederick never met her uncle, James Acton Jones. But she's heard so much about him, and about how he perished aboard a submarine sunk by the Japanese in World War II, that she feels the family's sense of sudden loss in February 1944.
“I just knew it was devastating to the family to know, to get news of his loss, that my grandmother, his mother, was especially devastated, she really didn’t believe he was gone,” Frederick said.
Torpedoman's Mate Petty Officer First Class James Acton Jones of Gadsden was aboard the USS Grayback, SS-208, when it was bombed first by Japanese land-based aircraft, then by depth charges, in February 1944. It was on its tenth mission, and with only two torpedoes left, had been ordered back to port in Pearl Harbor.
Jones and 79 other crewmen had been declared missing, something his mother and Frederick's grandmother never fully accepted.
“As other mothers were notified of losses of their sons, and received their gold stars, his mother, as we called Mama Jones, refused to hang the gold star,” Frederick said.
Frederick said her grandmother always expected James to walk through the door of her house at any minute.
A group called Lost 52, headed by explorer Tim Taylor, found the sub's wreck in June, but didn't make it public until Sunday. They were reportedly about to give up for the year searching the waters off the coast of Japan, when they spotted the submarine's wreckage.
It's located off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
For the Jones family it’s bittersweet. Only one sibling who knew Jones, his sister Sarah Havens, survives, and she lives in California.
Judy Frederick spoke to her aunt.
“For her it means a lot, I mean for all of us, but especially for her, because that was her big brother, I mean she was only about nine years old,” Frederick said.
"And she asked, 'Will the submarine be raised? Will we visit?' And I said, 'I don't think so, I think that it will stay in place, and be protected,' and she's all right with that," she added.