Meg Jones, long time Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and Milwaukee writer, died on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2020 at the age of 58. Best known for her over 20 years of work at the Journal Sentinel where she covered a wide range of beats, including eight trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to cover the military and the impact of the wars in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Before her career in journalism began, Meg worked as a George Webb waitress, performed in the UW-Madison marching band and was a lifelong Packers fan.
In remembrance of Meg and her work, Lake Effect re-aired an interview after she released her book, World War II Milwaukee.
Editor’s note: This story originally ran Dec. 7, 2015 and has been updated.
It was on this day, 74 years ago, that the Japanese bombardment of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II. There are several important Milwaukee names that have prominent connections with that war.
Former mayor Carl Zeidler enlisted in the Navy and was killed in the South Pacific. World War I ace Billy Mitchell died before the Second World War, but had essentially predicted almost to the letter the attack on Pearl Harbor. War photographer Dickey Chapelle was from Shorewood, and Mildred Harnack was the only American woman directly ordered to be executed by Adolf Hilter for her involvement in the anti-Nazi movement. And of course, five-star general Douglas Macarthur spent part of his childhood in Milwaukee and was an alumni of West Division High School (what is now Milwaukee High School of the Arts).
"This isn't like the definitive be-all history of Milwaukee during World War II," explains Jones. "It's just highlighting some of the interesting stories, some of the unusual occurrences, some things were I was reading along and I was like, 'what?'"
For Jones, writing a book was new territory compared to her reporting on military and veterans issues. While the interest in the topic was strong, she only knew the bigger picture of Milwaukee in World War II. Jones framed the book based on her knowledge of a Milwaukee captain of the USS Arizona at the beginning of the war, and the role Douglas Macarthur played in commanding the USS Missouri and his signature on the Armistice with Wisconsin Made pens.
"I thought here are these two very influential people with Milwaukee ties at the beginning and the end of World War II for America, so then that kind of helped me frame the book," explains Jones. "Then I started thinking about the interesting businesses, companies, factories that were making stuff, and then I thought about the interesting people...journalists...I knew that there was also a strong pro-Nazi presence here in Milwaukee also during the 1930s. So things just kind of began falling into place," says Jones.