A soldier decorated by the queen died of cancer a week after renewing her wedding vows in the hospital.
Major Huw Francis Isaac Jones died shortly before Christmas at the age of 48, a few months after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease.
Originally from Senghenydd, the respected four-year-old soldier and dad died shortly after renewing his vows with his wife Patricia.
Now his widow has paid tribute to “the most incredible human being” as he approaches one year after his diagnosis.
The couple met in 1999 when Huw was sent to Belize, where Ms. Jones originally came from. They met while he was out with his mother and sister and after having been friends for about two years they started dating and then got married. “The rest is history,” said Patricia.
Huw was supposed to be in Belize for six months, but he continued to extend his time so that he could stay longer to be with his future wife.
He said, “He never proposed to me, he just told me we would get married.
“I moved to the UK. It was never a place I thought of living. I lived in America and went home only for my mother’s wedding anniversary. I never looked back.”
They got married and came to the UK in 2001, with Patricia describing them as “the happiest couple that ever existed”.
He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times and honored by the queen.
Patricia said, “I missed him a lot when he was out there. But I always knew he would come home to me. I never expected cancer to take him away, never in a million years.”
Huw was diagnosed with cancer last April. Patricia said, “Everything happened suddenly. Everything from start to finish was just a big blur.
“He underwent surgery in September and was told that he had a 10-year life expectancy. But then, after the surgery, the type of cancer he had was quickly aggressive and it all went downhill. The cancer has played with everyone. “
On December 2, the couple renewed their vows at Stoke hospital after the military helped organize the ceremony in one day.
Patricia said: “It was the most magical, saddest, most beautiful day. We renewed our vows with our children.
“My son accompanied me down the corridor and my daughters walked forward while he was waiting for me in his wheelchair. We renewed our vows again before I lost him a week later.
“It was difficult but it was also a celebration of love and life and for him to know what does not matter where he goes I will always love him and he loved me.
“We had something that people haven’t even had in a lifetime but I’ve had it for 20 years, which is pretty short, but I had it.”
Huw’s funeral, which had all the military honors, took place on January 21 in Shropshire with around 500 people present.
After several deployments around the world he was awarded the Royal Red Cross by the Queen in 2008 for his services in the infirmary, earning the ARRC letters after his name.
Ms. Jones described her husband, a passionate sailor and fisherman, as a man who “loved life”. He said, “He had an evil sense of humor. Very very intelligent man. He was my best friend.”
Despite her excruciating loss, Patricia said that her military wife life had helped keep her strong. Patricia, who thanked her in-laws and the armed forces for their support, said: “I have no family in the UK. It was me, the children and him – but he’s gone.
“So being a military wife means being strong – some are successful and some are not. But I came to the UK in 2001 and he left for Oman in September – so he left me in the UK alone.
“Then you have two choices: survive alone or not. And I’m the kind of person that I don’t feel sorry for myself, so you manage. You learn to manage, you learn to do it and you keep busy – you just have to go on.”
Jones, born of parents Gillian and Edwin Jones, leaves his children Lewis, Vivian, Ariadne and Edmund.
Vow renewals were organized by his military colleagues, nurses who take care of him in the hospital and Kath Ryan.