Dr. George Austin McHenry, who homesteaded in the area of South Stone County that now bears his name beginning in 1889, joined the United States Volunteers in 1898, as a contract surgeon with the rank of Captain. He served in the Spanish American War in Cuba, the Philippine insurrection, and in China. During his time in Cuba, Dr. McHenry directed the yellow fever hospital there. Since he was immune to the disease, he was able to help many others.
While serving in the Spanish American War, McHenry developed a close relationship with Leonard Wood, who later became Chief of Staff of the United States Army and was tasked with establishing military training sites throughout the United States. Because of this relationship, Dr. McHenry was instrumental in proposing the establishment of one of these training sites to be located south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, because of the mild climate, available rail facilities, and geography. The site was selected, and in 1917 it became Camp Shelby, the largest state owned military training facility in the United States.
Did you know our own Dr. Needham Jones belonged to the famous Tuskegee Airmen? While a student at Alcorn A&M College, Jones was called up in the draft just six weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He was allowed to complete the spring semester as a member of the reserves and reported to the Air Corps at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on September 7, 1942. After eight days of testing, he was sent with the 30 highest scoring to Maxwell Air Force Base in Tuskegee, Alabama, and became a member of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. At discharge he had the rank of Corporal.
Dr. Jones spent many years in education in Stone County serving as Principal at Locker High School and then as Assistant Principal at Stone High. Through Dr. Jones efforts, many young people stayed in school to complete their high school education.
Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS), on March 1, 2013, hosted a ceremony officially recognizing Tuskegee Airman and current Hattiesburg resident, Corporal Needham Jones, Sr., at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.